At the end of the summer, we all are awash in corn, zucchini and tomatoes. This is, by and large, a good thing. But it begs for a bit of creativity in the kitchen so the end-of-summer vegetables don’t mount up and threaten to overtake us.
If you are growing any of these items in a garden you really need an arsenal of recipes to keep the influx at bay. I have a neighbour who once told me that when he was growing up, August was the only time the people in his town locked their cars. They did it because otherwise they might come back to find someone had left a bag of zucchini on the seat.
Lucky for me this neighbour has a serious green thumb, and I never lock my car.
Even if you don’t have a garden, these items are plentiful at the farmers markets and supermarkets, and as summer starts to ebb we all want as much of this produce as we can get. Soon we’ll be reminiscing about ripe, red tomatoes; plump, sweet corn; and firm zucchini with their emerald skins. But for now, they are ours for the eating.
This Cobb salad has chickpeas and eggs as the main proteins, and the traditional bacon as well, which could be left out if it’s not your thing. You could of course add a row of cooked cubed or shredded chicken or cooked shrimp, or substitute it for the chickpeas. Most of us think of zucchini as a vegetable to be cooked, but if you get small, very firm zucchini, they are lovely shredded, diced or peeled into ribbons and eaten raw.
LATE SUMMER COBB SALAD WITH BUTTERMILK-THYME DRESSING
You are welcome to cook bacon the old fashioned way on the stovetop, or you can bake it in a 350 F oven on a wire rack inserted into a rimmed baking sheet for about 15 minutes, or until crispy. Baking it is neater, less splattery, less hands on.
And to make perfect hard-boiled eggs, start by placing the eggs in a large saucepan and adding enough cool water to cover by at least 1 inch. Bring the water to a boil over high heat. Allow the water to boil for 30 seconds, then remove the saucepan from the heat and let the eggs sit in the water for 9 minutes. Drain and rinse under cool water for a few minutes.
Peeling the eggs while they are still slightly warm often makes it easier to remove the shells in big pieces, so you don’t have to chip them off and mess up the eggs. Tap them lightly on the counter, then give them a quick roll to crackle the shells and peel them carefully. It also often helps to peel the eggs while they are submerged in water.
Start to finish: 25 minutes
For the dressing:
1/2 cup buttermilk, shaken
2 tablespoons sour cream or plain Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
For the salad:
5 cups thinly sliced romaine lettuce (or a combination of iceberg and romaine, for more crunch)
8 slices bacon, cooked and roughly crumbled
3 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and diced large
1 pint (2 cups) cherry tomatoes, halved (or 2 cups diced larger tomatoes)
2 cups lightly cooked corn kernels
2 cups diced zucchini
15 1/2-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
Ground black pepper
To prepare the dressing, in a small container or jar with a lid, combine the buttermilk, sour cream or yogurt, mustard, vinegar, olive oil, thyme, garlic and a hefty pinch each of salt and pepper. Shake well. Can be refrigerated for up to 5 days. Shake before using.
To prepare the salad, spread the lettuce evenly over a large serving platter or shallow bowl. On top of the lettuce, make nice neat rows of the crumbled bacon, eggs, tomatoes, corn, zucchini, chickpeas, onion and feta. (The order is of no consequence, whatever strikes you.) Season with pepper, then drizzle with a bit of dressing and serve the rest on the side.
Katie Workman has written two cookbooks focused on easy, family-friendly cooking, “Dinner Solved!” and “The Mom 100 Cookbook.” She blogs at www.themom100.com.