When I created this summer salad, I was envisioning the corn on the cob sold by our neighborhood Mexican elote street vendors. “Elote” simply means “corn on the cob” in Spanish. The vendors traditionally serve the cobs coal-roasted with a squeeze of lime juice, slathered with (imitation) butter and mayonnaise, rolled in Cotija cheese and sprinkled with Ancho chile powder or cilantro. Sounds like overkill, but when done properly, they’re utterly addictive.
For my salad version, I originally envisioned closely following the traditional list of ingredients, but since I was making this side dish for a sweltering June afternoon barbecue, I decided sunbaked mayonnaise may not be the best choice for a food-poisoning free day. My consternation then turned to cilantro. While I love the bright-green herb (especially on sandwiches and in salads), I realize there are many cilantro-haters out there, claiming it tastes like soap (others even asserting “cilantro allergies,” but color me doubtful.) Accordingly, I opted for the less-divisive dried Mexico oregano. The final recipe resembles nothing of Mexican street elote, but, nevertheless, it’s quite tasty and perfect for a summer backyard barbecue.
Lentils, with a shape somewhat resembling coins, are symbols of riches and prosperity in Italy. After eight long years, we have finally sold my childhood home this week. What better way to celebrate this little boon than with these symbols of financial good fortune?
Rather than the golden-egg-laying goose the house was expected to be, it morphed into an albatross that created unanticipated familial stress over the last eight years. My oldest sibling wanted to sell immediately, during the real estate collapse, while another mentioned keeping it for 45 years. I managed, surprisingly, to remain neutral over most of the years (caught up in my own personal turmoil, I suppose) until last year – then my exasperation bubbled up, boiled over. Get me out of here – I want to take my share and run! Trouble with the tenants, damage to the property, lawsuits and disagreements between us brought me to the verge of walking away. This house and all its complications was my last fetter to my siblings. Now, no longer financially shackled, I can, should I chose to, slip away never to be found again. Not that I want to, but there’s something liberating in realizing that I could.
Tonight, before I celebrate with my lentil salad, I say thank you to my mom and dad for making this financial provision. I am grateful for this good fortune and I hope to use my portion in a manner that will make them proud.
1 large or two small carrots, shredded (about 1 cup)
⅓ cup onion, chopped
¼ head cabbage, shredded (about 3 cups)
½ cup Feta cheese
Salt and pepper to taste
In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar, thyme, garlic, sugar and Dijon. Add olive oil in a steady stream, whisking constantly. Set dressing aside.
Cook lentils according to package directions.
While lentils are cooking, in a medium size skillet over high heat, sauté corn, red pepper, carrot and onion until softened and onions are translucent. Do not brown.
Place cabbage in a large bowl. Drain lentils. Cover cabbage with warm lentils and sautéed vegetables to help soften cabbage. While salad is still warm, fold in dressing and feta cheese. Cover salad and let rest for 30 minutes at room temperature to allow flavors to meld. Before serving, season with salt and pepper.
Remember how you suffered through the last week of school before summer vacation? You couldn’t wait for summer to begin, concentrating seemed impossible, time in the classroom dragged on forever, and you were incensed if teachers asked you to do any actual work. You just had to get through those…last…few…day.
Déjà vu. I’m one week away from being officially laid off and the hour can’t arrive soon enough. I’m anxious for the moment when my time is once mine to spend as I desire. Sign my yearbook already and let’s get on with it.
In honor of the season (although it doesn’t officially begin until Monday), today’s recipe highlights a summer produce classic – freshly-picked sweet summer corn.
I’m a planner, by trade as much as by nature. I’ve been in planning mode for my imminent Europe trip. After a plane change and two train rides, I’ll find myself in Northern Italy for a week of pasta school. School is followed by a week solo in Prague for exploring and, finally, one afternoon in Milan before heading home. I’ve created a few different guide maps for the trip – maps of the can’t-miss tourist sites, the must-visit restaurants, and, of course, maps of the local artigianale gelato shops, at least while I’m in Italy. My Italian gelato class in 2013 has converted me into a gelato elitist. This wait has become a countdown to exceptional gelato as much as a pasta school countdown. Let the trip begin.
In the interim, I’m trying to behave:
Summer Gazpacho and Bean Salad
Various colored tomatoes (heirloom preferred)
Yellow bell pepper
1 14.5 oz. can
Great Northern beans
Red wine vinegar
Hot pepper sauce
Cut tomatoes into wedges and cut wedges in half crosswise. Thinly slice celery and green onions. Dice cucumber and bell pepper. Drain and rinse beans. In a large bowl, combine beans and vegetables. In a small bowl, combine vinegar, salt, pepper and hot sauce. Slowly whisk in olive oil until combined. Pour dressing over vegetables, stir well and let marinate at least 30 minutes before serving.
Just in time for July 4th, this colorful cacophony of summer produce bursts with fresh farmers market flavors.
Summer Tomato Nectarine Salad
Inspired by Cooking Light Tomato Salad with Peach Dressing
Salt and pepper
Red Wine vinegar
Fresh thyme (chopped)
Salt and pepper
Large heirloom tomatoes
Shock basil and mint in boiling water for 15 seconds. Transfer to ice water to stop cooking. Puree basil, mint and olive oil in blender. Season with salt and pepper and set aside so flavors can blend. Drizzle can be made a day in advance.
Stir together red wine vinegar, thyme, and shallot. Season with salt and pepper. Vinaigrette can be made a day in advance.
Finely chop nectarine and fold into vinaigrette. Thickly slice tomatoes and arrange on platter. Drizzle with nectarine mixture. Add burrata. Drizzle basil-mint sauce around platter and on burrata.