Last week’s unexpected spin up into 90+° temps was a much needed reminder that Summer isn’t quite over. Although I love love love autumn, the hoopla surrounding the restart of the school year — parent or not, you can’t escape it — sends me quietly reeling, with visions of gray slush and dark, gloomy days and long, bone-chilling nights. Not a winter girl, am I, not one little bit.
It felt, confusingly, like July, watering the more sensitive veggies every day and being poked relentlessly by mosquitoes all the while. The intense, low-slung, post-dinner sun burning one side of my face, then the other, as I move here and there, from garden to garden, juggling the large mixing bowls that collect the evening’s harvest.
And so, summer vegetables, while winding down, are still plentiful. And with that first, intense (glutinous, almost) indulgence of minimally-prepared fresh veggies far in July’s rear-view mirror, it’s time to play.
Now, grilled corn is nothing new, but I saw a wonderfully simple presentation in Fine Cooking magazine recently, and it inspired me to pull out the grill and give it a shot.
Corn, sliced into slabs rather than a rain of unruly kernels, is a visual delight on the serving platter and a subtle textural experience: spooning a slab of corn into your gob is more like enjoying the chew of a slice of watermelon, or an apple, rather than the crunchy popcorn-popping-!pop! of loose kernels.
Did that make any sense? Like, at all? You probably have to try it to see what I mean. Not life-changing or hashtag worthy – but nice and surprising all the same.
I’ve made a lot of homemade salad dressings this year, and each dressing is my new favorite in the moment.
This dressing is no exception: tangy creme fraiche is heavily scented with fresh-from-the-garden French tarragon, lightened sweetened with honey, and made extra creamy with a little goat cheese. I could’ve finished off the dressing right out of the bowl, but knew that it would accent the grilled corn strips salad perfectly.
Crispy arugula and pickings from a new garden crop of cilantro — a cool weather crop, despite its association with salsa — get a kick of spice from the just-the-right-amount-of-heat serrano chili pepper (my favorite medium-hot variety) and provide an awesome base for the planks of corn.
Drizzled generously with the tarragon dressing, this grilled corn strips salad is a delicious way to celebrate the lingering of summer’s best vegetables.
- 1/3 cup creme fraiche
- 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 2 tablespoons fresh tarragon, chopped
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 dash freshly ground black pepper
- 2 heaping tablespoons goat cheese, crumbled
- 4 ears corn, shucked and silks removed
- olive oil, for brushing
- 1 handful arugula, torn into bite-sized pieces
- 1 small serrano pepper, thinly sliced (optional)
- 1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
- salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Whisk together the creme fraiche, vinegar, honey, salt and pepper until smooth. Stir in the tarragon, then the goat cheese crumbles. Refrigerate until ready to use.
- Preheat the grill to high and prepare for direct grilling.
- Lightly brush the ears of corn with olive oil and lay them on the grill. Cook, turning every few minutes, until all sides are slightly charred (about 10 minutes). Remove from the flame and allow the ears to cool.
- Use a small, serrated knife to remove the kernels from the ears. Keep the ears near horizontal to the cutting board as you slice from stem to tip, and go slowly. The goal is to remove the kernels in connected strips. As a small strip is freed from the cob, stop slicing and gently transfer it to the cutting board.
- Line a platter with the arugula, then gently arrange the corn strips on top. Scatter the serrano slices, and sprinkle the chopped cilantro over the top.
- Spoon a portion of the tarragon creme dressing lighlty over the salad, making sure to let colors of the salad peek through. Finish the salad with a pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Serve the remaining dressing on the side at the table.
Source: adapted loosely from FineCooking.com