Thursday, August 07, 2008

Corn, Zucchini and Mozzarella Salad

When I am not obsessing over beets this summer, I have been more than usually attentive to zucchini and fresh corn. Since I started blanching zucchini (and broccoli too, by the bye), I have had much more success in using it without overcooking it. And this summer there has been a beautiful abundance of summer squashes.

I had a few ears of fresh corn and some zucchini that I picked up at the green market, and I wanted to do something cool and refreshing, like a salad. I also seem to have become obsessed with salads this season, and have taken a particular pleasure out of being as creative as I can in trying to come up with combinations of flavors of which I would not normally think.

Now corn, zucchini and tomato are not all that unusual together; in fact, summer seems to demand that they be brought together at least once. I did not have the tomatoes so I hopped on down to Treasure Island to see if they had any of the pear tomatoes that I have come to love so much, and I was lucky enough to find them. At the deli on the way to the produce section (it's at the other end of the store, actually, but the deli is always on the way to everything else at Treasure Island), they had beautiful small mozzarella bocconcini that I just knew would be the perfect protein to add.

I chopped and blanched the zucchini while I microwaved the corn. By the time the corn was cooked, husked, and left to cool enough to be handled, the water for the zucchini was boiling and I dropped it in, turned off the heat, and let it sit for four to five minutes. While it was blanching I cut the kernels off the cob, halved the pear tomatoes and chopped up some red onions, basil and parsley. It only took a minute to put together the vinaigrette, and in a short period of time, with little fuss, muss (and heat), I had a delicious dinner salad. Add a nice crisp-crusted piece of garlic bread and it's the perfect summer meal.

2-3 ears corn, still in the husk
3-4 medium-small zucchini, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 small red onion, finely diced
1 pint pear tomatoes, cut in half on the diagonal
1 container (8-oz.) mozzarella bocconcini, cut in half
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 Tbsp freshly-squeezed lemon juice
3 Tbsp white wine vinegar
8 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
salt and pepper to taste

Rinse corn and put on a microwaveable plate, with the husks still on. Cook on high for 4-5 minutes. While still hot, peel under cold running water then leave to cool off enough to handle.
Blanch zucchini by dropping it into a pot of boiling salted water, turning the heat off, covering, and letting it sit for 4-5 minutes.

Combine the corn, zucchini, onion and garlic in a large bowl and mix well. Add the tomatoes and the cheese and mix a little more gently.

In a small bowl, combine the lemon juice, vinegar, olive oil, and salt and pepper. Whisk well to combine, and pour over salad. Mix well, then let sit for at least half an hour before serving. After it's been in the refrigerator, be sure to bring to room temperature before serving.

The salad will keep for a few days in the refrigerator; after that the cheese takes on an unappetizing texture.

created 7/23/08


outside dog said...

Why cook the corn?

dejamo said...

Thanks for stopping by, w. australopithecus.

Short answer: Why not? What are you, some kind of caveman?

Considered answer: I blanch the corn more than cook it, and I do that because I do not like the taste/texture of raw corn. It's not necessary to the dish that the corn be cooked, and I think it would taste just as good if the corn were raw, if you like raw corn.

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