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A Simple Summer Supper

July 29, 2010

I love winter.  I love how the cold makes me crave the comfort of standing by a warm stove for hours.  I love filling the house with the succulent aromas of braising meats.  I love the blast of steam that comes from boiling pots of pasta.

Summer is different.

It’s hot and it can be sticky.  Having lived in Miami, you won’t find me complaining about the humidity.  Thankfully, with central air, cooking isn’t unbearable, but it just doesn’t have that same primal draw.

This is the first year that I’ve joined a CSA, and I cannot tell you how much it has increased my appreciation for the agricultural bounty of the region.  I find that season-less supermarkets are really soul-killing, from a culinary perspective.  However, it does require a lot of summertime cooking.

Our share on Tuesday contained the first tomatoes of the season: a generous basket of red and beautiful beefsteaks.  There was corn.  There was basil.  Tuesday also happened to be Mrs. Fussy’s birthday, and she took it on herself to make her favorite summer meal.  Plus she shared with me an amazing treat.

Her favorite meal is pasta with a raw tomato sauce, but we also had corn on the cob.  It was less of a meal and more like a highlight reel of summer’s bounty.

The tomatoes got cored, seeded and diced.  Then they were mixed with olive oil, kalamata olives, capers, shredded basil leaves, garlic, kosher salt and fresh black pepper.  Hot pasta is dumped over this bright and flavorful sauce, and everything is tossed together.

In my mind, short of eating them out of hand, or simply dressed with oil and salt, this is one of the best uses for spectacular tomatoes.

The corn was even simpler.  The husked ears were dunked in unsalted boiling water for one minute.  Just enough to warm them up and take away a bit of their rawness.  The kernels popped with sweet and juicy sunshine.  I had more than my fair share.

Of course we shared all of this with the children.

But what we kept for ourselves was the special treat Mrs. Fussy was generous enough to share with me.  As she cored and seeded the tomatoes, she was working over a bowl and collecting the tomato juice and seeds.  In a moment of kitchen downtime, she strained the juice into a small glass and sprinkled a little bit of salt and pepper on top.

I suggested that perhaps it would benefit from a bit of vodka.  And then I took a sip.

Adding vodka would have been dumb.  This was magnificent in its pure simplicity.  Adulterating it in any way would be a crime.  Mrs. Fussy called it “summer in a glass” and I would be foolish to disagree.

Granted, this meal that involved two large pots of boiling water may not be everyone’s idea of a simple summer supper.  I briefly entertained the notion of setting up a couple of electric burners in the garage for some of the more heavy-duty summer cooking tasks, but that’s just crazy.  Maybe normal people use their gas grills for boiling water outside, when they don’t want to fill their house with steam heat.

I’ve always been fundamentally opposed to gas grills, but if it means I can boil water out of the kitchen on hot summer days, I may need to reconsider.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Mr. Sunshine permalink
    July 29, 2010 9:44 am

    I love that raw tomato condiment. A friend of mine adds brie to it; I switched that up to fresh mozza, which I highly recommned. Enjoy.

  2. Phairhead permalink
    July 29, 2010 9:59 am

    We’ve boiled water over a charcoal grill. You’ll just want make sure you have a chimney for it & using cast iron is an absolute must for the corn

  3. July 29, 2010 10:19 am

    If in the kitchen, vote one pot of water and fishing out either the corn or the pasta when its done. If I’m going to the trouble of a chimney full of coals for a dinner on our weber, you better believe I’m roasting the corn vs. boiling it!

    Thank you for the tip on the tomato juice. I always feel guilty seeing that gorgeous stuff go to waste.

  4. Tonia permalink
    July 29, 2010 12:05 pm

    The tomato dish sounds heavenly. I cannot wait for my tomatoes to ripen!!!

  5. Phairhead permalink
    July 30, 2010 9:27 am

    Leah, well yeah obviously grilling corn is preferable to boiling it on a weber. I’m just saying it’s deliciously feasible. I did whilst camping a few weeks ago

  6. Ellen Whitby permalink
    July 31, 2010 11:10 pm

    Happy Birthday Mrs. Fussy!!! A gas grill is definitely the way to go.

  7. August 2, 2010 1:54 pm

    I forgot Mrs. Fussy’s birthday! Happy birthday!

    The simple summer prep sounds lovely. I might try that this weekend.

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