I dream and patiently wait from one summer to the next for the first fresh corn from our local farms. I shall never be accused of eating corn on the cob off-season or caught selecting ears of corn off supermarket shelves at any time of the year. To do so would be to abuse my taste buds. I love corn to distraction and for the first few weeks of its arrival I delight in eating it in messy splendor; the tender, milky kernels dripping with sweet melted butter and a dash of sea salt.
We’ve been eating local, fresh corn straight up for a month or so, and now, for a bit of variety I’m ready to play and take the kernels off the cob. Yes, there’s a long list of ingredients in my summer vegetable sauté but the recipe can be made ahead and, even days later, the tasty leftovers can be reheated and put into an omelet or whole-wheat tortillas for delicious tacos. Team corn off the cob with sugar snap peas and scallions with fresh lobster chunks and you have one heck of a summer salad.
Ideally corn should be purchased early in the day so that it does not dry in the warm sun. With the variety of corn planted at different stages, happily local corn will be into October – and then I will patiently wait for its return to our farm fields, the following summer.
SUMMER VEGETABLE SAUTE
Prepare this do-ahead vegetable sauté and you will be glad you did.
Makes 8 to 10 servings
3 to 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 fennel, trimmed, cored and thinly sliced
2 ripe local tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced
1/4 cup cold tap water
2 zucchini, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon dried leaf oregano (not powder)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup fresh corn kernels, about 2 ears corn
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped flat-leaf Italian parsley
1. In a large 12-inch skillet, heat the oil over medium heat and add the onion and garlic and sauté for about 3 minutes until onion is translucent, stirring occasionally. Add the fennel, and stir to cook for 4 to 5 minutes. Then add diced tomato and stir to mix and continue to cook for two minutes or so. Add water and zucchini and cook at a medium-low simmer for about 8 to 10 minutes until zucchini is tender. Season the vegetables with salt and pepper to taste, and the oregano. (Remember the cook must always taste.) Finally add the corn and stir-sauté for 5 to 7 minutes. Add parsley and simmer for another 10 to 12 minutes or so and taste for final seasoning.
Note: The recipe makes a fair amount, about 2 quarts. I don’t recommend freezing. Enjoy the dish straight up with family and friends. You can also fold some of the leftover mixture into a tortilla with a bit of grated cheese for tacos, or just give some to an appreciative neighbor.
TACOS WITH SAUTEED SUMMER VEGETABLES
1 1/2 teaspoons unsalted butter
2 whole-wheat tortillas
1/4 cup shredded Mexican cheese mix, divided
1/2 cup sautéed vegetable mix, divided
1. Melt butter in a sturdy non-stick skillet. When butter foam subsides, put in the tortilla, sprinkle cheese on one half of the tortilla then top with vegetables. Fold over second half of tortilla and cook for about 2 minutes. Flip the tortilla and cook for 1 to 2 minutes longer; transfer to a dish. Repeat with second tortilla and serve.
CORN, SUGAR SNAP PEAS AND LOBSTER SALAD
Team sweet milky corn kernels with the crunch of scallions and snow pea pods. Then add toothsome chunks of cooked lobster for a fabulous summer salad.
Serves 4 to 5
4 to 5 ears of corn
1/2 pound sugar snap peas
1/3 cup chopped scallions
2 tablespoons basil ribbons*
1 1/2 tablespoons snipped chives
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
2 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound cooked lobster meat, cut into chunks
1. Cook the corn in salted boiling water for 2 minutes then lift out corn with tongs to drain on paper towel. Blanch the sugar snap peas in the same water the corn cooked in for 1 minute. Drain and dry on paper towel.
2. When corn is cool enough to handle, stand upright at the wide end in a large bowl and cut down on the kernels into the bowl with a medium slicing knife. Add the sugar snap peas, scallions, basil ribbons and snipped chives. Season with salt and pepper; dress with vinegar and oil and toss gently to mix. Taste to adjust seasoning as necessary. Can be prepared ahead to this point. Refrigerate covered in a suitable container.
3. When ready to serve, add the lobster pieces and toss to mix. Taste to adjust seasoning if necessary before serving.
*To cut basil “ribbons,” stack fresh leaves of basil then roll up like a cigar. Slice across the leaves to cut into ribbons.
Visit Silvia’s website at www.savoringthehamptons.com to read her blogs and more recipes.