Monday, October 12, 2009

Summer's End: Corn, Zucchini and Red Pepper Saute

Happy Columbus Day to all you Americans out there. It's the first Columbus day I have had as a holiday since I worked for the city and I am enjoying it for all it's worth. I'm feeling lazy on this chilly Monday morning so I am just hanging around the apartment dong nothing.

Summer has ended with a bang and Fall has barely whimpered, and it already feels like winter here in Chicago. The temperature dropped below thirty over the weekend and scarves, mittens and hats were out in full force. It has made for an odd juxtaposition at the grocery store - zucchini, corn and peppers displayed alongside pumpkins, squash and taffy apples. The corn and zucchini are still reasonably priced, so I decided to go one last round with the summer veggies before hunkering down to hearty soups and stews.

I didn't want to go to a lot of trouble, and I wanted to highlight the vegetables themselves so I opted for a simple saute. I diced the zucchini and peppers so they were roughly the same size as the corn. A base of red onion brought together the sweet crisp of corn, the earthy crunch of the zucchini, and the smoky note of red pepper. A little pancetta crisped up and sprinkled on top gives it a little burst of protein and makes for a light, satisfying meal while you are contemplating what kind of stew to make for that first fall meal.

1/4 lb. thinly-sliced pancetta, diced
1/4 red onion, diced
1/3 medium red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 medium zucchini, diced
2 ears fresh corn, removed from the cob (can used cooked fresh, or frozen)
salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
2 Tbsp freshly chopped herbs, if desired

Cook pancetta over medium heat until crispy. Remove to a paper-towel lined plate and set aside.

Drain all but 1 to 2 tablespoons of the fat from the pancetta. Add the onions, salt and pepper and saute until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add red pepper and saute for another 2 minutes. Add zucchini and corn and cook for an additional 2 to 3 minutes, until all of the vegetables are just soft. (If using cooked or frozen corn, add it last and cook until it's heated through.)

Remove from the heat and add the lime juice. If you are using fresh herbs, add them now. Taste and adjust the seasonings as necessary.

Dish out the servings. Sprinkle the crisp pancetta over the saute just before serving.

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