Monday, August 23, 2010
Summer Squeeze: Roasted Corn and Tomato Salad
When I was coming up with side dish ideas for the pasta tasting I did a few weeks ago, I knew I wanted to use tomatoes and fresh corn for one dish because they were in such abundance, and both crops have tasted better than average this year. When I showed the idea to a friend, she said “but it’s so everyday and boring.” Well, of course she’s right, but I would not be daunted. I set out to come up with a couple of twists that might look a little less everyday.
I love to squeeze every bit of flavor out of the ingredients I have, so instead of a raw salad, I thought I would roast the vegetable. Besides, I thought a roasted salad would pair better with a raw pasta sauce (pesto).
To try and make it a little more elegant, I decided to serve the salad in tomato boats – just hollowed out the tomato halves and roasted them along with the corn. It makes portioning much easier (don’t you sometimes hate trying to figure out how much is enough?), and I used the tomato flesh for another dish later on.
The salad dressing couldn’t be simpler – just oil and vinegar with a couple of dried herbs thrown in. And I used one of my favorite inexpensive flavor weapons: roasted garlic.
Roasted garlic is such a breeze – I just throw a halved-head of garlic and some olive oil into foil and toss it in the oven for 30 or 45 minutes. It comes out so fragrant and rich. I mash it down, combine it with a touch more olive oil, and stash it in the fridge for weeks. I’m not sure how long you can realistically expect to keep it in the fridge, but I’ve worked off of the same head of roasted garlic for a month or more. The trick is to make sure the oil covers the garlic – it acts as a great preservative. You’ve got roasted garlic add at a moment’s notice, and it costs about 45 cents to make.
Roasted garlic can make all the difference in a simple dish like this. Raw garlic could easily overpower the other flavors, but roasted boosts the overall flavor without drowning out the corn and tomatoes.
This dish was part of the winning combination for the pasta tasting party. You could say that it squeezed out a win.
Recipe: Roasted Corn and Tomato Salad