When I was a kid, the only thing preventing complete despair over the end of summer vacation was that it happened to coincide with peak corn and tomato season. As a grown-up and a dinner lover, I still feel this way! When these two August VIPs are at their best, a good meal is virtually guaranteed. Here are a few ways to optimize the season…
Corn and Tomato Stew with Sausages
Add 3 tablespoons of olive oil to a medium pot set over medium heat; add 1/2 small onion (chopped), the kernels from 4 ears of corn (raw), 1 small minced jalapeño (leave as much or as little of the pith/seeds depending on your heat preference), salt and pepper. After vegetables soften, add 1 large tomato or 2 medium tomatoes (chopped into small chunks) and stir, cooking down for a few minutes over medium-low heat. Meanwhile, grill or pan-fry four sausages (sweet or hot Italian, veggie, chicken, any kind) until cooked through, about 8 to 10 minutes total, turning every 2 minutes or so. Serve stew in bowls with sliced sausages as shown. Top with minced scallions if desired.
Panzanella with Gigante Beans
Roast 4 cups cubed bread (cubes should be about 1 1/2 inches and drizzled with a little olive oil; don’t drench them) in a 400°F oven for 10 to 12 minutes until they look golden and crunchy. Let the croutons cool, then toss with quartered tomatoes, a 15-ounce can of gigante or butter beans (drained and rinsed) torn fresh basil, red wine vinegar, olive oil, kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. (To make this completely oven-less, use store-bought croutons.) And there’s no reason why you couldn’t toss in some corn kernels here.
Tomato Cheese Tart
Preheat oven to 375°F. Roll out completely thawed puff pastry on a sheet of lightly floured parchment paper. Prick pastry in a few places with a fork and brush all over with olive oil. Slide the parchment paper onto a baking sheet. Arrange 4 or 5 sliced tomatoes on top (any kind and a little overlap is fine, just leave about a 1-inch border), then drizzle with another tablespoon of olive oil. (I use my fingers to sort of “paint” the tomatoes.) Sprinkle with any cheese (feta, goat, cheddar, Parm), salt and pepper and bake tart until edges of pastry are browned, puffed, and crisp, 25 to 30 minutes. (Start checking on it after 15.) Let tart cool about 10 minutes before slicing. Garnish with herbs like thyme, chives, basil, parsley.
Corn on the Cob with Miso-Scallion Butter
In a small mixing bowl, hand-mash 4 tablespoons butter, 1 1/2 tablespoons sweet white miso, and 2 scallions (finely minced) until completely combined. (It’s easiest when butter is super soft; also I use one of the beater attachments from my electric mixer for this.) Place on a platter and dollop miso-scallion butter all over corn, turning ears so they are thoroughly buttered. Finish with sea salt.
Chopped Summer Salad
You already know that the easiest way to optimize the season is to simply combine chopped tomatoes with raw corn kernels, add some torn basil, maybe some scallions or a minced red onion, olive oil, a little red wine vinegar. But also, consider throwing fruit into the mix, like peaches (peaches, tomatoes, blue cheese) or watermelon (watermelon, tomatoes, cucumbers, mint, feta) for a little shake-up. And yes, I realize tomato work a fruit. Hard to forget this time of year when they’re just so sweet. Related: How great is Samin’s chopped salad tacos?
And don’t forget about these favorites: Gazpacho, Tomato Salad with Sweet Corn and Basil Dressing, and Maque Choux.
What would you add?
PS A summer farmer’s market plan and how to upgrade a regular green salad.