Monthly Archives: July 2011

Summer on a Plate

At the lake, I love a dish with a long inactive prep time. Marinades, anything requiring a requiring a rest in the fridge, or ingredients brought to room temperature- these are recipes I lack the patience to make for a weeknight dinner. But on a Saturday at the cottage, I can take care of these tasks after lunch and still squeeze in a full afternoon of floating. Last weekend, I made dinner for some friends and my parents, including an heirloom tomato and corn salad that has been lying latent in my mind since I read it in last June’s Bon Appetit. The corn, still in it’s husk, soaks in a bowl of water for an hour before going on the grill, where it steams in it’s own little wrapper. It is shucked, tossed back on the grill for a little charring, sliced from the cob, and tossed with heirloom tomatoes in a fresh basil vinaigrette. This salad is phenomenal, with the perfect balance of sweetness and acidity, and I highly recommend the full-out version- if you have two hours, a grill, and a mother will asbestos hands and killer knife skills (she offered!).

I knew I needed to recreate this salad immediately, so driving home, I picked up some sweet corn and a few early heirloom tomatoes at a little farmstand in preparation for Round 2. This is the Monday evening, 7 p.m. start time version. Still light and summery, the addition of whole wheat pasta rounds out the dish with an appealing nutty flavor.

Heirloom Tomato and Sweet Corn Pasta
Adapted from Bon Appetit

8 oz whole wheat penne pasta
4 medium heirloom tomatoes
4 ears sweet corn, shucked
1 clove garlic, minced
3 Tbsp white wine vinegar
Olive oil
1/4 cup basil, thinly sliced, plus additional for garnish

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook pasta until al dente; drain, and set aside to cool.

Core tomatoes, and chop into bite-sized pieces, reserving 1 handful of diced tomatoes with their juices.

With a very sharp knife, slice the corn kernels from the cob. In a large saute pan, heat 1 Tbsp of olive oil and add minced garlic, then corn. Cook over medium-high heat until browned. Turn off heat and add reserved tomatoes to deglaze the plan. Briefly stir, then remove pan from heat and set aside to cool.

To make vinaigrette, combine white wine vinegar, 1/4 cup olive oil, basil, and a pinch of salt in a small jar.  Shake vigorously to emulsify.

In a large bowl, gently toss pasta, tomatoes, and corn mixture with the vinaigrette. Salt to taste, and garnish with basil.



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Saturday in the Park

Each summer I face, as they say, a first world problem: deciding whether to spend my weekends at my favorite place in the world, or enjoying the many charms of a Chicago summer. The 8 minute bike ride to the beach, and the opening of an ice cream shop halfway between there and my home make a strong argument in favor of the latter. Moreover, there is a distinct je ne sais quoi about this city; lying on a picnic blanket with your friends in the shadow of the skyline, at the feet of a wittily gilded statue of Alexander Hamilton, knowing that anything you could possibly want is a short cab ride away, there is pleasure in not needing anything beyond the icy cooler of beer and cava pinning down the corner of your tarp. For us nature-deprived city children, the shade of a single pine tree and the smoke from a propane-fueled mini-Weber are more than enough to evoke the great outdoors.

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