Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Summer Saute'


An ear of corn just hours away from harvest at Full Belly Farm. 

Being an urban girl at the moment, the farmers' market is my connection with the country.  
For some reason the Tuesday Berkeley farmers' market feels a tad more intimate than the others; perhaps it is the narrow corridor of a street that the booths are on, and the fact that I end up rubbing arms and shopping baskets with many other market-goers as I shop.  I feel more up-close with the vendors, too.   Under the shade of their awning for the afternoon, they are tan (the kind of tan you get from working outside, not the kind you get from lounging) and earthy.  If they don't have soil under their fingernails, I at least imagine that they do.  They seem grounded and in their bodies.  Everytime I interact with them and their tables of produce, I fantasize that I am one of them ~ just in town for the afternoon.  
As if you didn't know, going to the farmers' markets continues to be my favorite activity of the week.  I love walking to the market with a general loose guide of what I want and need, then picking the produce that most urgently grabs my attention, and creating a menu out of it as I walk along.  So far this season the fruit has stolen the spotlight as I walk down the line, getting lured in by each plump fragrant sample piece.  But summertime vegetables (ok ~ we all know that some of what we call "vegetables" are technically fruit, but follow me here) are starting to nudge their way in.  The show-stopper for me this week has been corn.  Corn!  I love corn ~ any way you fix it (even creamed corn from a can).

Here's a simple recipe I created from veggies that caught my attention today:
Summer Saute' 
~ makes two heapin' helpings
olive oil and butter
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 a bunch rainbow chard ~ the stem sliced like celery, the leaves chopped or in a wide chiffonade*     
3 ears of corn ~ kernels stripped off the ear
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
a small handful of basil leaves ~ cut into a chiffonade

In a large skillet, warm the butter and olive oil and saute' the garlic with the chard stems on medium low for a few minutes, stirring so as not to let the garlic brown.  Add the chard leaves, still dripping with the water they were washed in, and turn the heat up higher as you put a lid on the skillet.  Let those wilt and cook to your liking.  At the very last few minutes, add the corn kernels and stir.  You don't have to cook them long at all.  Salt and pepper to taste.   Add the basil after the dish is off the heat, or as a garnish to each individual plate.  This dish can be served piping hot or cold.  With a few vagrant cornsilks still in there, this dish feels like summer.  

* to chiffonade:  line the leaves up lengthwise, and roll them together like a big cigar.  As you hold the "cigar" firmly on the cutting board with one hand, make decisive cuts to shred the lot cross-wise into strips.  For greens like kale and chard, I'm liking to cut the strips about as wide as my finger.  I think chiffonade is the best way to cut basil; it doesn't oxidize and turn brown as much as if you mince it.  Shred basil into 1/4 inch strips.  

(my photo doesn't give juicy still-hot-from-the-sun justice to corn. .. more like a textbook. .)

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