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This salad uses corn as a jumping-off point for something really unusual. Sara binds an assortment of lightly cooked veggies (shallots, pepper, green beans and corn) with a lemon juice and maple syrup dressing that's both light and creamy because it's made in a blender. Purple basil, which wilts slightly due to the heat, adds color and fragrance, and fresh ancho (a.k.a. poblano) lends a bit of heat. The salad serves as a bed for smoked trout (we recommend a good-quality brand that's not too salty), and the whole thing is topped off with a thick slice of homemade rye garlic bread. Sara calls for young garlic, which is delicious but pungent, so you may want to use a smaller clove.
We ended up adjusting this cast of characters a touch: you'll see how below!
First step: softening the dried pasilla pepper that we were substituting for the ancho. More on this in a bit.
We were a touch skeptical we'd need both tablespoons of butter for the garlic butter, but Sara was right, it was perfect.
We shaved a ton of corn that day...
Once the pepper was reconstituted, there was very little flesh to work with. Improvising a bit, we substituted half a fresh jalapeno pepper, although it added only the slightest hint of heat, so you should feel free to use more.
We got a whole smoked trout, and Amanda expertly flaked it, starting with removing the skin.
Millions of pin bones -- be careful, and warn your guests!
The simple blender dressing emulsified beautifully -- it was practically creamy.
We softened the peppers and shallot, and then added the green beans. Once they softened, we added the corn.
To finish, a handful of (perfectly gorgeous) purple basil.
Dressing and seasoning to taste. Be wary of oversalting, as the smoked trout can be quite salty itself.
This corn salad epitomizes the freshness of summer. Sweet raw corn kernels and their milk mix with the bright acid of tomatoes and the kick of red onion; a hint of balsamic vinegar adds a caramel tang. The flavors mellow and meld as the salad sits for a bit. Peter says they're optional, but we added both the basil and sugar snaps, blanching the latter briefly in salted boiling water and removing the strings before cutting them in thirds. We upped the balsamic vinegar to 4 tablespoons because we'd added another quart of veggies -- you can simply add it to taste.
The ingredients came almost entirely from the farmers' market.
Even husking corn is fun! (Although husking is great activity for interested children...)
Drying the grape tomatoes, just like we did the blueberries a few weeks ago, gently in a kitchen towel.
Now, the recipe called for two quarts of grape tomatoes. This is a lot of tomatoes. Luckily, there'a trick for slicing all the little buggers in half. First, get two lids (deli or quart container lids work great) that are the same size, and fill one of the lids with tomatoes...
Cover them with the other, inverted, lid.
And while applying even pressure, slice between the lids. A very sharp chef's knife works well, as does a serrated knife. You're left with perfectly halved tomatoes in roughly one millionth of the time.
We chose to use the optional quart of sugar snap peas, but we didn't use them raw, instead we blanched them for 2-3 minutes in boiling, salted water. If the sugar snaps are gorgeous and perfectly fresh, they'd be great raw, but ours weren't quite as perfect as we would have liked, and blanching them made all the difference.
After shaving the kernels off, Merrill was sure to scrape the cobs with the back of her knife, to get all the corn milk out of the cob.
Once the sugar snaps were blanched, we peeled off their strings, and cut them in thirds.
After tossing all the vegetables together, we seasoned (guess how...) and used 4T of balsamic vinegar.
As the salad sat, the corn released some its juices, dressing it a bit. It was lovely.