Tag Archives: corn

Simple Green Bean Corn and Tomato Salad with Vinaigrette

I often hear others say they don’t like salad.  My first reaction is, really?  How can someone not like salad?  And then I wonder if the person is suffering from the idea that salad involves a head of lettuce and a few tomatoes slathered in bottled white creamy dressing and understand.  That would get old quickly.  But salad doesn’t have to involve lettuce.  I think the first time the idea of salad without lettuce was presented to me was when we lived in Spain.  Thinly sliced onions, cucumbers, and tomatoes were arranged on a big plate and drizzled with a light dressing of water, vinegar, and olive oil and sprinkled with salt.  It was delicious.  Over the years, each time my mother made this salad, she added sliced red and green peppers to the mix and would allow it to sit so the vegetables could marinate a bit.  We loved this salad in the summer, picking at it as we went in and out of the house on hot days.  The crunchy, briny vegetables were always a treat and we never tired of them prepared that way.

We eat salad all year long unless I’m going through one of my lazy streaks when doing something a bit different with a salad takes more time than I am interested in giving it.  That’s deplorable when you consider that it doesn’t take much to be creative if you’ve got the right ingredients on hand — and I usually do.  We’re lucky to have an extremely long growing season here, and with Mexico just to the south, are able to benefit from what is grown there when it isn’t available here.  Our farmer’s markets keep locally grown vegetables and fruit available every day of the week in communities around San Diego all year long so there’s no excuse not to be creative with a salad.

Some of our favorite flavor combinations are derived from classic combos:  basil, tomato and mozzarella; tomato, avocado, jalapenos, and cilantro; bacon, lettuce, tomato, and blue cheese; cucumbers, onions, roasted peppers, kalamatas, and feta.  When we want to add something more substantial to our salads, then prosciutto is added to the basil tomato combo.  Grilled shrimp, chicken, or steak can be added to the second.  White beans added to the third.  It’s fun to mix and match everything sometimes to make sure there’s a nice balance of crunch to creamy, and tart to sweet.

In the extreme heat of summer, a good salad can be a one dish meal.  All you need is fresh tender crisp ingredients, a good vinaigrette and a bit of creativity.

If you’re just home from work and not relishing the idea of prepping all the vegetables then get all the ingredient possibilities out of the fridge and put everyone to work.  Pour a cool beverage to sip while you’re prepping and talk about the day.  If you’ve got picky eaters in the house, the place the ingredients in separate bowls, salad bar style — but make the best possible combo on a plate first and allow the others to see it to give them the idea of what is possible.  Make a big deal over the art of a perfectly loaded fork.  If you don’t have converts after a few sessions, then at least you’ll have had fun in the process.

This simple green bean corn and tomato salad is a simple combination of summer vegetables that is perfect for a barbeque, picnic, or just to have ready for a hot day when even plugging in the slow cooker is more than you can deal with.

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Boston Butter Lettuce Salad with Avocado, Corn, & Tomatoes

One of the things my husband will tell you I ask him is whether he’s had anything green during the day.  He’s fairly patient with this interrogation because he’s intelligent and knows that ultimately, regardless of what he eats, there have to be vegetables in his diet– especially brightly colored vegetables.  But sometimes, green is enough, and often easier because all it takes to incorporate it into a day’s worth of meals is to have a salad.  A big salad.

I know many think salad is a warm weather dish, but to me, it’s one of the easiest ways to make sure vegetables are on the plate.  Fresh vegetables.  Nothing fancy — just a mix of what sounds good, what’s in the fridge, or what’s in season.  And?

The salad needs to take up half the plate.

I grew up eating salads made exclusively with iceberg lettuce.  I’m sure many of us did, and from what we now know, it’s because that’s what was in the market.  Zero choice.  But one of the first types of lettuce I discovered when I was freshly moved out of my mother’s house was Boston Butter Lettuce.  It was beautiful, delicate, and something I’d never seen before.  Although I originally saw it in small heads placed in rows upside down in the produce rack, more and more, the heads I’ve become accustomed to seeing are larger.  Much larger, and sealed safely inside plastic containers to keep them from being bruised.  I felt decadent the first time I bought a head of butter lettuce,  enjoying the tender leaves with all kinds of tasty salad ingredients, and thinking that yes, it tasted a bit on the buttery side.

During our short trip to Laguna Beach this past summer, we had a late lunch on the balcony overlooking the beach at The Beach House.  Although we both agreed the food was wonderful, I especially enjoyed the completely green salad made of a whole head of butter lettuce and all other green ingredients tucked under the leaves. Avocado, green striped tomatoes, green onions — wonderful.

When I saw the “Boston Lettuce Salad with Herbs” in the September issue of Food & Wine, I decided to make a similar version of a delicious Boston Butter Lettuce Salad.

Perfect for dinner, a special occasion, or just lunch all by yourself.

Check off your greens for the day!

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Hold the Grease: Tacos with Potatoes and Skillet Corn and A Trip to Old Town San Diego

Late in April each year the Cinco de Mayo ruckus begins.  Ads on television air, local restaurants sport signs about Cinco de Mayo happy hours and don strings of red, green, and white flags, grocery stores advertise their specials full of bagged chips and cheese sauce in jars, and Twitter is abuzz with questions about what everyone will be making for their Cinco de Mayo parties.

“Interesting” but far from authentic variations on tacos and guacamole surface, there’s talk of new-fangled margaritas and cerveza, and for those interested in dessert, margarita cupcakes seem to be everywhere sporting that perfectly swirled, creamy top.  “You want it with or without salt?”

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Fresh Corn and Tomato Pie

Fresh Corn and Tomato Pie

It’s been a couple of weeks since my youngest headed off to college, and it’s become very apparent that tailoring my cooking portions down by a third is not going to be as easy as I first thought.  Let’s discuss the fresh corn I purchased recently, shall we?

I bought four ears, restraining myself because they were 10 for a dollar.  Sure, I could have purchased 10, and like an organized consumer, freeze most of it for later use.  You should see my freezer.

No, I settled with the four ears knowing I’d be able to make a few recipes before we felt as if we were on corn overload.  Bear in mind that each ear of corn produces more than one cup of kernels and that one serving is only 1/4 cup.  Two recipes for two would mean 16 meals consisting of…

Corn.

Sweet, crunchy, versatile corn that, when enjoyed in a nice pie made with homegrown tomatoes, won’t get stuck in your teeth.

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Shrimp and Corn Chowder

Shrimp & Corn Chowder

It’s only a matter of time once the hint of Fall teases me with cool afternoons that I start thinking of soup.  I’m not partial to any kind of soup in particular as long as it’s warm and satisfying.  Sometimes I long for a clear broth and others something silky and smooth.  This time, I was in the mood for something chunky with a bit of richness — like clam chowder — except I didn’t have clams.  Seafood chowder sounded excellent too, but I wasn’t sure the tilapia I had in the freezer would be the right kind of fish for that.  No, I’d have to settle for the plump pieces of shrimp I had and the sweet corn and potatoes that needed to be used instead.  I just needed to find  a recipe that wouldn’t take up an  afternoon to prepare.

I enjoy my recipe searches because in the process I compare and contrast general quantities of ingredients, consider the variety of spices used and admire an unusual spin here and there.  It’s always nice to find a version that is healthy without taking away the satisfying aspect of the dish, too.   Every once in a while, I find a recipe that stuns me.  In my search for Shrimp and Corn Chowder, I found a recipe that seems to be making its rounds, finding it posted at several different sites.  Serving six, it calls for one quart of half-and-half, one quart of heavy cream, and one-half cup of margerine. Seriously.  I just about fell out of my chair wondering why on Earth it was necessary to put that much fat into a recipe that could easily do with much lighter ingredients and avoid classifying it as diet food.

Thankfully, I found a great recipe at Nook & Pantry, and although I didn’t follow it exactly as written, my version is not too far off.  Shrimp & Corn Chowder anyone?

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