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Roasted corn salad ideal for cookout

Recipe: Chopped veggies in a light vinaigrette can cope with heat

Roasted corn salad in a serving bowl
Ready for the cookout: This colorful salad can be
served cold or room temperature. (Photos:
Kathy Morrison)

Oh, that forecast! Why did the hottest day of the month have to be Memorial Day? Anyone planning an outing or (fully vaccinated) home gathering Monday will have to factor in that predicted 104-degree or higher weather. And of course around here the temperature peaks just as you're getting ready to prepare or serve dinner.

This salad is my suggestion for the cookout table. The only cooking required can be done ahead, most of the vegetables are raw, and the dressing does not contain risky-in-heat mayonnaise. The salad can be served cold or room temperature, and is versatile enough to tweak to family tastes.

The base is the wonderful fresh corn now coming into market. The ears are roasted under the broiler or on the grill, and the roasted kernels stripped off to become the dominant vegetable in the salad. Also in there for color and texture are red bell pepper,  celery, red onion and cucumber; easy additions or substitutions could include sun-dried tomatoes, sliced olives or chopped carrots. The thyme could be switched out for fresh basil or parsley, too.

""
Four ears of bicolor corn went into this
recipe.

Roasted corn salad

Makes 4-6 servings; easily doubled

Ingredients:

4 or 5 ears of corn, husked

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced

2 or 3 celery stalks, quartered lengthwise and diced

1 cucumber, peeled and seeded, then diced

1/2 large red onion, diced

Other possible additions: 1/2 cup or more sliced sun-dried tomatoes; 1 cup sliced olives; 3/4 cup diced or shredded raw carrots

Dressing:

Leaves from 1 bunch of fresh thyme, roughly chopped (1 generous tablespoon), plus more leaves for garnish if desired

""
This is the supporting cast. I used about half the
thyme in that bunch, which was  just trimmed off
the plant.

1/3 cup cider vinegar

2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

Salt

Freshly ground black pepper

Instructions:

Preheat the broiler or the grill. Brush the ears of corn with the 2 tablespoons olive oil and broil or grill until they're roasted on all sides, turning frequently to avoid burning. (Corn has a lot of sugar and can burn quickly) Let cool.

Combine the chopped bell pepper, cucumber, red onion and celery in a large bowl.

Whisk together the cider vinegar and about 1/2 cup of the olive oil, the thyme leaves, about 1/4 teaspoon salt and several grinds of pepper. Taste, and add more olive oil if desired, and correct the seasonings to taste.

Add a touch of salt and several grinds of pepper to the veggies already in the bowl, if desired. (I like pepper with corn, so I tend to use a lot.)

""
The corn cools after roasting. Use tongs to turn them
often while they're cooking.

Cut the kernels off the cooled cobs and stir them into the bowl with the other veggies.  Re-whisk the dressing and pour about half of it over the vegetables, mixing thoroughly.

Taste and add more dressing or more salt and pepper as desired.

Cover and chill the salad until ready to serve. (One hour at least is best for flavors to meld.)

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Garden Checklist for week of July 14

Your garden needs you!

* Keep your vegetable garden watered, mulched and weeded. Water before 8 a.m. to reduce the chance of fungal infection and to conserve moisture.

* Feed vegetable plants bone meal, rock phosphate or other fertilizers high in phosphate to stimulate more blooms and fruiting. (But wait until daily high temperatures drop out of the 100s.)

* Don’t let tomatoes wilt or dry out completely. Give tomatoes a deep watering two to three times a week.

* Harvest vegetables promptly to encourage plants to produce more. Squash especially tends to grow rapidly in hot weather. Keep an eye on zucchini.

* Pinch back chrysanthemums for bushy plants and more flowers in September.

* Remove spent flowers from roses, daylilies and other bloomers as they finish flowering.

* Pinch off blooms from basil so the plant will grow more leaves.

* Cut back lavender after flowering to promote a second bloom.

* It's not too late to add a splash of color. Plant petunias, snapdragons, zinnias and marigolds.

* From seed, plant corn, pumpkins, radishes, winter squash and sunflowers.

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