Dinner Begins with Corn & Tomatoes

I’m heading into week two down here in South Carolina and I regret to inform you that your weekly dispatch of Three Things has been downgraded this week to just Two Things, but what beautiful two things they are…It’s corn and tomato season, baby! This week begins the stretch of weeks we spend all year pining for: when the corn is like candy and the tomatoes are the deepest red, heavy with flavor. I’m not kidding when I say that every single night we have cooked down here, corn and tomatoes have figured prominently in the meal. Here’s what we’ve made so far…

Sausages with Corn-Tomato Hash 

You might call this the cheater’s version of a Creole maque choux, where corn, tomatoes, and peppers cook down into stew-iness. We picked up some sweet Italian sausages at a local market, and from there it was easy.
The How-to: Add 3 tablespoons 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 sweet Italian sausages 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.

Gazpacho with Shrimp (with Buttered Corn on the Cob)

Bless the New York Times for turning their mega-popular Seville-style gazpacho into an instagram post. This is good for two reasons 1) anyone can access it, no subscription required* and 2) it really communicates how unbelievably easy it is to make. (I remember writer Julia Moskin described this blender version as flexible and easy as making a smoothie.) There was extra shrimp lying around so one diner got lucky, but the rest of us went full vegetarian. Buttered corn on the cob on the side. What is better?
*But I feel the need to mention that a subscription to NYT Cooking does pay back in the most delicious dividends.

I don’t ever want to not have Gazpacho in a pitcher in the fridge, ready to pour into my chilled drinking glass for lunch.

Chicken Paillard with Tomato-Corn Salad

This dinner in fact wasn’t exactly what I hoped it would be. It was partly inspired by a 5-ingredient chicken dinner on Cup of Jo, and partly inspired by a cold chicken dish I used to obsess over at New York’s Bar Pitti back in the day. The chicken was pounded paper thin, then grilled, then chilled, then topped with a gorgeous tomato-heavy green salad. My version was close, but next time I’m pounding even thinner…and, obviously, adding corn.
The How-to: POUND four chicken breasts paper thin…then pound some more! (My goal was to make each breast the size of a dinner plate.) If you have time, marinate in a ziploc bag in a little olive oil, 2 smashed garlic cloves, juice from half a lemon, salt, and pepper. Grill on a medium-hot grill about 3 minutes a side, or more depending on thickness. (It should be firm to the touch but not rock hard.) If you have time, chill the chicken in the refrigerator. Meanwhile make your salad. Five or six cups of the freshest greens you can find — I’d go arugula even though you’re looking at a mix of greens up here — then tomatoes, the kernels from two cooked ears of corn, and my All-Purpose vinaigrette. Serve each piece chicken topped with a big mess of salad. Bread on the side if you think you need it.

Shrimp Rolls with Corn-Tomato Salad

You might sense a pattern! Here’s the deal: If the corn and tomatoes don’t play a starring roll in the main dish, they are sure to appear in salad form. This is the same salad as described in the recipe above, but we added some sliced avocado and an extra tomato to make it more chunky, less leafy. Shown here with my is-it-even-vacation-if-we-haven’t-eaten-shrimp-rolls Shrimp Rolls. Recipe also in Dinner: The Playbook.

Warm Summer Shrimp Salad with Butter Beans

You already know about this winner, which I wrote about in last week’s newsletter. Potatoes, tomatoes, corn, butter beans, shrimp. We served it warm because we were hungry, but imagine it chilled with a glass of rose? Summer, don’t ever end!

What I’m thinking for this week…

….Toasts with ricotta and tomato-basil salad…fresh-tomato-and-corn pasta sauce…a tomato tart…a risotto made with corn stock and fresh tomato juice…low-and-slow-roasted, crunchy-topped tomatoes with lima beans…you know I will keep you posted.

Every week, I send out a free newsletter called “Three Things” — a few quick thoughts on what I’m cooking and reading and eating. To have these recipes sent directly to your inbox sign up for my newsletter here

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