One night last week, while Kevin was off at a pre-season NFL game, my sister and I fashioned a two-person family dinner. It was more of a girls night in, but we called it family dinner out of habit. We threw together a salad—Ali had requested something salad-y and fiesta-ish—of grilled corn and vidalias, multi-colored tiny tomatoes, avocado and ribbons of romaine, all bound up in a cool, creamy chipotle-lime dressing. We sat on the deck and ate, watched the sun set, let the wind whip our hair, curled our feet up under us on our chairs and, as sisters are known to do, talked well into the evening.
It was a really nice night and one when I felt really present. It was the kind of the night that made me think: I will miss nights like this. Nights when it’s light for a couple hours, even after work; when the produce is so fresh and bursting with summer that you barely need to cook to experience a delicious dinner; when I’m lucky enough to have my sister live only a mile away; when we get to be together, just the two of us. Be it the inevitable arrival of autumn, busy schedules, or moves, I know these kinds of nights are precious and I did my best to savor it.
(Click “more” for the rest of the story, more photos & the recipe.)
On the food side of things, I can’t help but gleefully think about roasting and braising again and I’ve entertained more than one daydream about Brussels sprouts and gourds. But my summer to-cook list is still deliciously, enticingly long. I waited weeks, months, for the tomatoes that now practically spill out of bins at the farmers’ markets. I need to try not to rush them out in favor of fall’s first Honeycrisp apples. Because these days—days of sweet corn, fresh herbs, fuzzy peaches, juicy tomatoes; days of salsas, grills, fruit pies and, don’t forget!, ice cream—will be gone all too soon.
So here’s to that quiet night in with my sister, to a salad simple enough to let summer’s bounty shine, and to the weeks of summer we still have. I, for one, vow to enjoy it. I’m not quite ready to turn the calendar to autumn and it’s new set of tastes. Not just yet.
Chipotle Corn Salad
Adapted from Food & Wine
4 ears of corn
1 medium Vidalia or Walla Walla onion, thickly sliced crosswise
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup sour cream or Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, plus lime wedges for garnish
1 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, seeded and finely chopped
1 tablespoon chives, thinly sliced, plus more for garnish
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 avocado, peeled, pitted and sliced
Light a grill or preheat a grill pan. Brush the corn and onion slices with the olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Grill over moderately high heat until charred in spots but still slightly crisp, about 7 minutes. Let cool slightly, then cut the kernels from the cobs and coarsely chop the onion. Add the sliced tomatoes.
In a medium bowl, mix the sour cream with the lime juice, chopped chipotle chiles, sliced chives and salt and pepper, to taste. Add the sliced romaine to the bowl and stir to coat the lettuce with the dressing. Arrange the dressed romaine on a platter.
Top with the corn mixture. Arrange the sliced avocado on top of the corn mixture. Garnish with chives and lime wedges.