I look forward to the change of seasons with both anticipation and a hint of sadness. How could summer be over so soon I ask myself every year. But just as I’m lamenting the fact that the beach towels have officially entered their winter hibernation in the linen closet, I remember what a great season fall really is.
Autumn arrived this past weekend and with it plans of apple picking, pumpkin carving and hay rides. Mulled cider will soon be on the menu to take the chill of already brisk evenings. All good things, but I still feel the need to send summer off with an appropriate tribute. A “same time, next year” kind of thing.
By the looks of things, the crowd at the local Saturday’s West Windsor Community Farmer’s Market felt the same way. Shoppers are still picking up some lovely late summer produce. The last of the fresh peaches, corn, and plums sit next to pears, kale and other fall crops. I suppose this really is the best of all worlds — a way to transition out of the steamy summer months and into a season that brings us back indoors, to the proverbial hearth…and to weekend afternoons spent watching college football, the MLB playoffs, and Sunday (and Monday, and Thursday) NFL games.
With all that going on, a great summer send off is something that can be eaten in front of the TV, beer (or sippy cup) in one hand, nibbles in the other. If you’re already grilling up some hickory-smoked chicken thighs, a strip steak or sausages and can still get some good fresh corn, I recommend you try:
Late Summer Salsa with Grilled Corn, Avocado and Tomatoes
3 ears of corn
1 ripe avocado, diced into 1/2 inch cubes
1 large heirloom tomato, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 scallions, whites thinly sliced (discard green tops, or freeze for later use in stocks)
1 green bell pepper, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1 lime, juiced
1 jalapeño, finely sliced (optional)
Tortilla chips and sour cream for serving
1 tablespoon diced fresh cilantro for garnish (optional)
Prepare your grill for indirect grilling, heating up coals on one side of the grill to a temperature of approximately 350 degrees. If cooking on a gas grill, light only one side of your grill. (For an explanation of direct vs. indirect grilling, see this earlier post on hickory-smoked chicken thighs.) Prep your corn by pulling back — but not removing — the husk. Take the corn silk off each ear of corn as best you can, and bring the husk back up over the ear, securing at the top with a piece of twine or a piece of corn husk. Soak the corn in water to cover for 30 minutes.
Place the ears of corn on the cooler side of your grill and cook for 15 – 20 minutes, rotating the ears of corn several times during the grilling. The corn will cook inside the husk. Be careful not to burn the corn husks, though they may get a little charred in places and this is NOT a bad thing…just adds some smoky flavor to the dish.
When the corn is tender, remove from the grill and allow to cool before husking. Then break each ear in half and, on a large cutting board, cut the kernels off each ear (you don’t have to break the corn in half, but I find it easier to handle this way).
Note – if you want to skip the grilling and just husk and boil your corn on the stove top, go nuts. Your salsa will not be as smoky, but you will save time.
Put the corn into a large mixing bowl and add the avocado, tomato, scallions, bell pepper, lime juice, jalapeño slices, and salt and pepper to taste.
You can serve this in a variety of ways but we scooped sour cream into dipping bowls and topped with the salsa, a sprinkle of cilantro, and served the chips on the side. You could just as easily serve the sour cream and salsa separately, or forgo the sour cream entirely.
Serves: 4 – 6
Parent rating: Five stars. Great go-to on game day. It makes great use of the last corn, tomatoes and peppers of the summer, plus I feel like the family gets an extra serving of veggies while noshing. This even makes a good dinner when served with chicken or perhaps a side of rice and beans.
Kid rating: Five stars, without jalapeños. One star with. Our girls with gobble this down as long as it’s not too spicy. Dips are always fun. Dips with lots of veggies = touchdown!