The best meal is made with the freshest ingredients of summer - GulfToday

The best meal is made with the freshest ingredients of summer

food summer 1

Charred okra, corn and Jimmy Nardello peppers combine in this ode-to-summer dish. TNS

Ben Mims

During the summer, my cooking takes a noticeable shift. I put traditional composed dishes — like, say, a lasagna or roast chicken with potatoes — on the back burner in favor of one-bowl vegetable grab-bags to eat all the peak-summer produce I can get my hands on. This salad is one of those dishes, and I’ll eat it over and over until the vegetables vanish from the markets.

This dish is fantastic hot, but it still tastes great after a couple hours sitting at room temperature. The heat and spices in the sausage add a ton of flavor to the sweet corn, peppers and green, toothsome okra. Use the ripest tomato you can find for the best flavor. And if you like, add chunks of mozzarella, feta or goat cheese to the salad at the end before serving.

1 tomato

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1 almond-size garlic clove, minced

8 ounces spicy sausage

3 tablespoons olive oil

Jimmy Nardello peppers (4 ounces), stemmed and torn into strips lengthwise (see Ingredient Note, below, for substitutions)

8 ounces okra, split lengthwise

1 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels (from 3 to 4 ears)

Granulated sugar (optional)

Flaky sea salt

Torn basil or flat-leaf parsley leaves, to garnish

1. Cut the tomato into half-inch-thick wedges or slices and arrange them evenly over the bottom of a large serving platter. Season the tomatoes with salt and black pepper. In a small bowl, stir together the vinegar and garlic.

2. Crumble the sausage into a large nonstick skillet, then place over medium heat. Once the sausage starts sizzling, continue cooking, stirring occasionally and breaking up the crumbles as you go, until deeply golden brown and crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. Using a wooden spoon or heat-proof silicone spatula, scrape the sausage and its fat into a large bowl.

3. Return the skillet to medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add the peppers, season with salt and black pepper and cook, in a single layer and undisturbed, until lightly blistered on one side, about 2 minutes. Toss the peppers and cook, undisturbed, until blistered all over and just tender, 1 to 2 minutes more. Scrape the peppers into the bowl and leave them on top of the sausage.

4. Return the skillet to medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add the okra to the skillet, season with salt and black pepper and cook, using tongs to arrange each piece cut side down as much as you can (this helps rid them of their slimy texture, but don’t sweat over it), until charred on one side, 3 to 4 minutes. Toss the okra in the skillet and continue cooking until lightly charred on the other side and just tender, 3 to 4 minutes more. Scrape the okra into the bowl and leave it on top of the peppers.

5. Return the skillet to medium heat and add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add the corn, season with salt and black pepper, and sugar if using, and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and lightly browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Scrape the corn into the bowl, add the vinegar-garlic mixture and toss everything together while warm.

6. Immediately spoon the salad over the tomatoes in an even layer. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt and more black pepper. Garnish with basil just before serving.

Tribune News Service

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