Friday, August 26, 2016

Dilled, Crunchy Sweet-Corn Salad with Buttermilk Dressing

Consider this recipe to be your formal acknowledgement of summer's nearing end. Yes, the heat and humidity remain as obscene as ever, forcing me to continue my two-shower-a-day regimen to maintain questionable hygiene, even so.  But as the signs of season's closing continue to creep in—brisk mornings, a rapidly receding dusk—I find myself, like clockwork, in an emotional rollercoaster, the same one year after year. There is the part of me looks forward to Fall: this abbreviated glimpse of sought-after gold and bronze and fire red, the one that makes NYC whole again. As rapidly as we escaped for beach and sun, we come scampering back, rejuvenated as we walk the streets, enveloped in a delicious light breeze that only a few weeks prior had been stagnant and stinky, filled with air conditioner drippings.  School starts, Jewish High Holidays commence...Fall is good. But Fall is so short, and it so quickly divulges into winter, where we will be once again swooning for—

—summer! The other half of me is hysterical at the prospect of leaving you, your carefree swagger and beautiful bounty. That's what I'm going to miss the most, I realize. Not the 9pm sunsets, the summer Fridays, the inherent calm. My copious seasonal produce is going to leave me, and for that, I must mourn.

But as for all types of mournings (even those as trivial as this), one most confront the grief head on, which is why I will acknowledge the end of this beautiful season with a feast of summation. I will send off summer with this Dilled, Crunchy Sweet-Corn Salad with Buttermilk Dressing, boasting an entire ingredient list that can be found at the farmers market, right now. It's the kind of dish that makes summer food so special: clean, light, and easy; pure goodness thanks to ingredients so fresh. It is a salad meant to be devoured; the satisfying crunch of corn, cucumber and pepper against a backdrop of milk and tang. Dill—the freshest tasting of all herbs, I would argue—is paired with ample parsley, and briny feta is the cherry on top. Your past three months are contained inside this salad.

Before buying buttermilk, see if you have the ingredients to make your own: 1 tablespoon of lemon juice stirred into 1 cup regular milk makes a two-second DIY version, complete with the requisite acidity.  This salad will keep for a week; the dressing does get a little runny but it didn't bother me at all, I was ready to drink it. (You can also just keep it separate). I also halved the olive oil, the recipe just needs a touch. After eating a whole batch for a week, I feel ready to say farewell to summer with bittersweet certainty. Catch ya next time!

Dilled, Crunchy Sweet-Corn Salad with Buttermilk Dressing (from Food52)
Serves 4

Ingredients:

For the salad:
1 clove shallot, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
3 ears of fresh, uncooked corn*, the kernels scraped from the cobs with a sharp knife (about 2¾ c)
4 Persian or 8 kirby cucumbers, quartered lengthwise and sliced crosswise into ½ inch dice
1 long red sweet pepper, seeded, ribs removed and diced
1 small handfull fresh dill (about 4 smallish sprigs), minced
¼ c minced fresh parsley
Crumbled Feta cheese, as a garnish

For the dressing:
¼ c buttermilk
2/3 c plain European style thin yogurt, stirred (Greek is OK too)
1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
3 Tbsp minced Vidalia or other sweet onion
1 small clove garlic, minced and mashed with a pinch of salt
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste.

*You can also cook the corn if you prefer.

Directions:
1. Salt the shallot slices in ½ tsp salt and allow to sit about 20 minutes to draw out any harshness (optional, I did not do this). Rinse well with water and pat dry with a paper towel.
2.  In a large bowl toss the corn kernels lightly to separate them, add the shallot and the remaining salad ingredients and toss again to combine. In a smaller bowl combine the buttermilk, vinegar, onion, yogurt, and garlic and whisk to combine. Add the oil in a slow stream, whisking, until amalgamated.
3.  Season with freshly ground pepper and salt to taste. Serve the salad slightly chilled, garnished with the feta cheese. Pass the dressing separately.

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