summer living


Summer time, and the livin' is easy. Oh, is it now? Gerswhin, get it together.  I suppose it's easier livin' wuth this than livin with 5 feet of snow, so I'll take it.

I will say, the livin' is MADE a bit more easy when you use food and ingredients as your barometer for summertime living. Tomatoes, zucchini, corn, peaches....everything! Summertime ingredients are all exploding with flavor - you can get by with the simplest of preparations.  It's good for instant gratification!

So let's talk some summertime ingredients.  Tomatoes (YES!) - still not at their peak yet, but well on their way.  I couldn't resist.  Sweet corn - the epitome of summer!  You know what they say - what grows together, goes together. So cheesy...but so true. I decided to do a little something with my summertime veggies (sidebar: technically, fruit and grass), keep it simple, and let the ingredients do the work.  The only item I truly do much of anything to are the balsamic marinated pearl onions.  So good!

Summer Tomatoes with Sweet Corn Vinaigrette, Roasted Zucchini, Balsamic Marinated Onions, and Popcorn
1.5-2# heirloom tomatoes, diced (large)
1 large zucchini or 2 small zucchini - I used a huge Costata Romanesco Zucchini
3 ears corn
1/4 cup basil, roughly torn/chopped
Balsamic Onions (recipe follows)
1/4 popcorn kernels
Granulated garlic
Dehydrated lemon zest
Olive oil
Fresh ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 300F, then get started off by making a corn reduction.  Shuck each of the ears of corn, removing all the silk.  Break each ear in half, grate the kernels off on a box grater, and place all in a shallow saucepan.  Add water to cover, and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat, and allow the liquid to reduce for about 10-12 minutes. Strain the liquid through cheese cloth, and bring the liquid back up to a boil.  Reduce to a syrupy consistency.  Let cool and season to taste.  Emulsify with a bit of olive oil and set aside.

While the corn liquid is reducing, thinly slice the zucchini on a mandolin - about 1/2 centimer thick.  Brush each slice, front and back, with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place in the oven and cook until just roasted through and golden.

Nexy, pop the popcorn.  Yo ucan either use an air popper, or put some kernels in a pan with a bit of oil over medium heat and wait till all of the kernels are popped. Make sure you don't burn them!  Toss with a bit of granulated garlic and dehydrated lemon zest.  Taste for seasoning.

Roughly chop the tomatoes and toss with a few tablespoons of the corn vinaigrette and a pinch of basil.  Season with salt and pepper if necessary. On a plate, place a few zucchini slices, and top with a bit of the tomato mixture.  Scatter some popcorn around, top with the remaining basil, and enjoy!

Definitely a solid summer combo.  If you use these ingredients when they're right in season, all of the flavors come through brightly and don't overpower one another.  A bit of sweetness is added from the corn reduction and gives a hint of corn flavor.  The popcorn adds a bit of fun to the dish, but most importantly a nice crunch. Overall, delicious! If you like, finish with a bit of grated parmesan cheese.

Balsamic Onions
1-2 cups red pearl onions
Balsamic Vinegar, to cover

Bring a medium saucepan full of water to a boil.  Meanwhile, cut the tips (not the root) end off of the onion, and any papery skin.  When the water starts to boil, gently toss in the onions, and let cook for about ~3 minutes, or until tender.  Strain, rinse with cold water, and let cool.  When the onions are cool enough to touch - this is the fun part - grab the onion by the root base, and literally squeeze them to pop out the heart of the onion.  This gets rid of the first outer layers of the onion.  Perfect!

Place in a mason jar or other sealable container, and cover with balsamic.  These get better with time, so the further ahead you can make them - even a few days - the better.  Don't be afraid to make large batches either - these are absolutely delicious!  


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