In Boulder, Colorado, the farmer’s market is at its peak for summer. I can’t believe my eyes – such a variety of produce! Our short growing season means it takes us awhile to catch up with the bounty everyone else is enjoying across the country. Up until August it’s all kale and swiss chard, salad greens and beets. For the few weeks in August when I can find every kind of chili pepper imaginable, beans (green, yellow, and purple!), tomatoes, corn, peaches, plums, okra, carrots, apples, and melons, I think, “This must be what it’s like to live in California.” Seeing all the colors, shapes, and textures is a major boost to my mood and I greedily fill my basket. At home, the challenge is to carefully store everything in the fridge and make plans for enjoying the glut before it starts to deteriorate. Salads are easy and satisfying, cherished during these last days of summer. Like Cinderella, I know the clock is ticking and soon the party will be over.
Though my eyes tell me it’s summer, I can feel the approach of autumn. There’s a chill in the air when I wake in the morning, and the quality of light is changing – it seems more golden, less direct, softer. Last week the kids went back to school, and yesterday I brought my leather boots to Perry’s Shoe Shop (like I do every autumn) to make them look good as new. My little dachshund, Minnie, seems to feel the approach of autumn too. I’ve noticed a spring in her step and caught her sniffing the breeze, taking note of new smells and dropping temperatures.
Fall is coming, but it’s not here just yet. I’m knee deep in the bounty of summer, making jam, baking pies, and tossing salads. For now I’m eating juicy tomatoes and sweet corn. I’m getting all the wear I can out of bright and cheerful summer dresses. I may even try to spend one more sunny afternoon at the pool. What are you doing to savor the last days of summer?
one of my summer dresses, a Vera Bradley print, photo taken by James Anderson
Tomato Salad with Grilled Corn, Shrimp, and Chili-Lime Vinaigrette
Serves 6 as a side dish or appetizer
This salad is a celebration of summer. A variety of tomatoes contributes bold colors of red, yellow, and pink, but feel free to use whatever tomatoes you’ve got on hand – all red types are just fine and a handful of cherry tomatoes works well too. Char-grilled corn and shrimp add depth to the fresh flavors of the salad. If you can get your hands on smoked salt (found in spice shops) sprinkle it over the salad just before serving. The chili-lime vinaigrette packs a punch, but you can adjust the heat by using less jalapeno or substituting your favorite fresh chili pepper.
Ingredients for the salad
- 1 pound shrimp
- 3 ears of corn
- 4 green onions
- 2 pounds tomatoes, various shapes and colors
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- Salt, preferably sea salt or kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Smoked sea salt as a final seasoning is optional
Ingredients for the Chili-Lime Vinaigrette
Makes ½ cup of vinaigrette
- 1 lime
- 1 jalapeno
- ¼ teaspoon paprika
- 1 pinch of sugar
- ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons neutral-tasting vegetable oil
Peel and devein the shrimp. You can save the shrimp shells for making shrimp stock. Tightly wrap them in a plastic bag and store them in the freezer. Toss the shrimp in 1 tablespoon olive oil and season with salt. Set the shrimp aside at room temperature while you prepare the vegetables. Prepare the corn by removing the husk and silk threads, then brush with olive oil and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Set the corn aside.
Prepare the rest of the salad ingredients. Thinly slice the green onions, both white and green parts. Cut up the tomatoes in whatever shapes you prefer- a mix of wedges and round slices creates an attractive visual on the plate. Set the tomatoes and green onions aside while you grill the shrimp and corn.
Heat a gas or charcoal grill on high. Once the grill is good and hot, place the two ears of corn on the grill and cook, turning every 2 minutes, until the corn is nicely browned, about 10 minutes. Remove the corn from the grill and set it aside to cool. Place the shrimp on the grill and cook for 2 minutes, then flip the shrimp and cook the other side for 1 minute more, until their flesh is pink and firm.
Compose the salad. Arrange all the slices of tomato on a large platter. Slice the corn off the cob and scatter the kernels over the tomatoes. Add the grilled shrimp. Sprinkle over the sliced green onions.
Make the vinaigrette. Pour the juice from 1 lime into a medium bowl. Remove the top and seeds from the jalapeno and discard them. Chop the jalapeno as finely as possible, then toss it into the bowl with the lime juice. Add paprika and a pinch of sugar. Whisk the ingredients together and gradually pour in ¼ cup of the vegetable oil while whisking continuously to emulsify the vinaigrette. Taste the vinaigrette and if it’s too tart, whisk in an additional tablespoon of vegetable oil. Taste again and add 1 more tablespoon vegetable oil if needed.
Pour the chili-lime vinaigrette over the salad. Season the salad with a few pinches of smoked salt or regular salt. Serve immediately.