Recipe: Chopped veggies in a light vinaigrette can cope with heat
Ready for the cookout: This colorful salad can be
served cold or room temperature. (Photos:
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
Makes 4-6 servings; easily doubled
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
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
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
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.
Cover and chill the salad until ready to serve. (One hour at least is best for flavors to meld.)
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Dig In: Garden checklist for week of Jan. 29
Bundle up and get work done!
* Prune, prune, prune. Now is the time to cut back most deciduous trees and shrubs. The exceptions are spring-flowering shrubs such as lilacs.
* Now is the time to prune fruit trees, except apricot and cherry trees. Clean up leaves and debris around the trees to prevent the spread of disease.
* Prune roses, even if they’re still trying to bloom or sprouting new growth. Strip off any remaining leaves, so the bush will be able to put out new growth in early spring.
* Prune Christmas camellias (Camellia sasanqua), the early-flowering varieties, after their bloom. They don’t need much, but selective pruning can promote bushiness, upright growth and more bloom next winter. Feed with an acid-type fertilizer. But don’t feed your Japonica camellias until after they finish blooming next month. Feeding while camellias are in bloom may cause them to drop unopened buds.
* Clean up leaves and debris around your newly pruned roses and shrubs. Put down fresh mulch or bark to keep roots cozy.
* Apply horticultural oil to fruit trees to control scale, mites and aphids. Oils need 24 hours of dry weather after application to be effective.
* This is also the time to spray a copper-based oil to peach and nectarine trees to fight leaf curl. Avoid spraying on windy days.
* Divide daylilies, Shasta daisies and other perennials.
* Cut back and divide chrysanthemums.
* Plant bare-root roses, trees and shrubs.
* Transplant pansies, violas, calendulas, English daisies, snapdragons and fairy primroses.
* In the vegetable garden, plant fava beans, head lettuce, mustard, onion sets, radicchio and radishes.
* Plant bare-root asparagus and root divisions of rhubarb.
* In the bulb department, plant callas, anemones, ranunculus and gladiolus for bloom from late spring into summer.
* Plant blooming azaleas, camellias and rhododendrons. If you’re shopping for these beautiful landscape plants, you can now find them in full flower at local nurseries.
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