Eight days ago Vance and I were in the middle of throwing one of the most unreal dinner parties we've ever hosted. Nineteen friends and coworkers came to enjoy about thirteen different dishes at a tapas party we won't soon forget. The table was set with rows upon rows of neatly folded napkins; Marcona almonds and a bevy of Spanish cheeses dotted the table at regular intervals, only to be replaced by platter after bowl of homemade tapas-inspired fare.
All but one of our dishes made it out, and to be honest, I don't think we could have stuffed any more food into our guests without having to physically roll them out the door. All that said, we did a lot of eating leftovers (and admittedly, eating out) during our week of recuperation, so sorry for missing a week's worth of posts. (And no, we have no photos from the party — too busy in the kitchen! — but I promise it happened, and it was a worthy excuse for a blog vacation).
Leftovers and I are the opposite of friendly. I generally push them to the back of the fridge until they too closely resemble a sort of science experiment to be eaten anyway. And as hard as I tried to make it through the week eating only what remained of the tapas after the party was over, I too sorely missed fresh vegetables by the end of it.
So as I wandered amongst the produce in the market this afternoon, I felt like a kid in a candy store. Tomatoes of every shape, fresh corn, local okra, onions, peppers (oh, and some slow-churned local butter — how'd that get in there?) begged to be turned into a dinner that would start off the week just right.
This is my "see you next year!" to summer — the end of August couldn't get here fast enough!
Summer Succotash with Corn Cream, Roasted Tomatoes, and Bacon
This dish could just as easily be made without the bacon, but if you're not a veggie, it's worth it. Serves 2.
- 6 okra pods, stems removed
- 2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and somewhat finely diced
- 1 red bell pepper, seeded and somewhat finely diced
- 4 ears of corn, separated
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half lengthwise
- 4 scallions
- 2 pieces thick-cut organic bacon, sliced into 1/4 inch lardons
- Handful of cornmeal
- 6 tbsp vegetable oil
- ½ tsp smoked paprika
- 4 tbsp light cream (half and half), separated
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp olive oil, plus a drizzle for the roasted tomatoes
- Kosher Salt and Pepper
Preheat the oven to 400°.
Step 1 :: Prep
Start by getting all of your veggies ready, as the process goes quite quickly once everything is prepared. Rinse the whole okra pods under cold water, drain, pat dry, trim and cut into 1/4-inch pieces. Set aside.
Dice the bell pepper and remove the kernels from two ears of corn. Those can be set aside in the same bowl. Thinly slice the white and light green parts of the scallions and set aside in a small prep bowl. Slice the green parts of the scallions and keep in a separate bowl.
Step 2 :: Roast Tomatoes
Slice the cherry tomatoes in half, toss with ½ teaspoon of salt and a good crack of black pepper. Spread out into a single layer on a baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes, or until they are browned and melted but not burnt.
Step 3 :: Make the Corn Cream
Meanwhile, remove the kernels from the other two ears of corn. Place the kernels, along with 2 tablespoons light cream into a blender. Season with salt and pepper and blend at high speed for at least 1 minute. Pour the corn cream into a fine sieve set over a bowl. Thoroughly press the juices out of the corn mash and discard the solids. Whisk in ½ teaspoon of smoked paprika and set aside.
Step 4 :: Dry Fry the Okra
Place the cornmeal into a sealable ziptop bag. Add the okra and shake to coat thoroughly. Return the okra to a dry colander and shake off excess cornmeal.
Add the vegetable oil to a medium saute pan. Place over medium-high heat and bring the oil to about 370 degrees F. Add the okra and fry until golden brown on 1 side, approximately 5 to 6 minutes. Stirring occasionally, continue cooking until okra is golden brown on all sides, approximately 5 to 6 minutes longer. Remove the okra from the pan with a slotted spoon or spatula to a paper towel lined plate. Season, to taste, with salt and set aside.
Step 5 :: Bring it all together
Fry the bacon over medium-high heat until nice and crispy, about five minutes. Remove the bacon to a plate and add the white/green scallion slices to the bacon fat. Fry for about a minute until the scallions begin to soften; then, add the remaining corn kernels and diced red pepper. Stir in 1 tablespoon each of olive oil and butter. Continue to cook until the vegetables are cooked but still crunchy, about 4-5 minutes longer. Lower the heat to medium low.
Stir in the corn cream, diced Roma tomatoes, and a little extra light cream if necessary. Continue to cook until everything is heated through. Serve immediately, topped with the crispy bacon, green scallions, fried okra, and roasted cherry tomatoes.