We've had some type of tomato salad with dinner for the past three nights which I feel is a telltale sign that it’s the end of July. On our trip back from eastern Washington Sunday night, we stopped for an early meal at Delancey before heading to Qwest to watch the Sounders match. As a preface to our sausage pizza, we sampled the tomato salad with feta. Dinner on Monday paired tomatoes and fresh corn with sliders as we sat in the backyard enjoying the warm sun. Julienned zucchini was in today's summer vegetable mix.
The Tuesday farmers market in Tacoma is at 6th Ave, technically on Pine Street behind Masa. While there, I grabbed a couple ears of corn, as I knew we had some gorgeous little tomatoes left over from the prior evening's supper. In my market bag, six summer squash of varying colors mingled with the corn, some basil (as I keep killing the basil I attempt to grow), a long, thin cucumber, some tiny eggplant that were so purple they were almost black, and a half pint of raspberries,. Between us, the berries never made it home as they became an impromptu afternoon snack which left E wondering why there was an empty half pint container sitting atop the balance of the produce.
I know I've mentioned this before, but sometimes I feel like I'm cheating in the summer: dinner from sliced vegetables? But then I think that is the essence of fresh, local, quality produce and is the reason we can suffer through months of root vegetable and brassica monotony. For now, I'll put my feelings aside and continue to serve what is simple and fresh, and what I'll be pining for the other 11 months of the year.
Zucchini, Corn & Tomato Salad
1 small zucchini or summer squash, about 6-7" long and 1" in diameter
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1 large ear of freshly picked corn
1 cup of cherry, pear or grape tomatoes
4-5 basil leaves
Shallot vinaigrette (below)
Using a mandoline or peeler, julienne the squash
Toss the squash with the salt and set it in a colander for about 15-20 minutes
Meanwhile, remove the husk and peel from the corn
Cut the kernels from the cob
Slice the tomatoes in halves or quarters, depending on the size
Rinse and dry the squash
Place the squash, then the corn and tomatoes in a plate or a shallow bowl
Chiffonade the basil
Season the salad gently with salt and top with a modest amount of the vinaigrette
Finish with basil
To me, vinaigrette is a dynamic dressing that can vary based on the cook's palate or the application. One thing is for sure, I always like to macerate my shallot in the acid for about 15 minutes prior to combining it with other ingredients. Use these measurements as a suggestion and prepare to taste. You'll have dressing left after the salad which can keep in a tighly covered jar refrigerated for about a week.
3 tablespoons Champagne vinegar
1/4 cup finely chopped shallot
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Macerate the shallot in the vinegar with the salt for about 15 minutes
Add the pepper and whisk in the olive oil slowly to create an emulsion
Taste for seasoning