Super Savory Summer Sides

During the summer season at a local farm stand, my grown-up-self reacts much like my kid-self did when inside a candy store back in the day. Growing up I could barely stomach a vegetable, and practically lived on sweets. Thank goodness my tastebuds have “matured” since then. Now I crave vegetables and rarely eat sweets.

With the bounty of fresh produce, I get excited about all of my choices and the plethora of recipes in which to incorporate the abundant harvest. Two of my faves are fresh corn and tomatoes—can’t get enough of them from July through September. And the possibilities are endless, so when I happened upon these three recipe gems, I pounced into action—making all three within the same amount of days.

three.sides

The first recipe Buttery Balsamic Corn with Shiitake and Grilled Onion uses corn stripped from a fresh, husked cob—no need to precook. The red onion slices will need to be grilled for a caramelized finish, a step you can do a day or so ahead.
QUICK TIP: Use a clean toothbrush to remove the silk from the ears of corn, which can sometimes be a frustrating chore.

While the Miso-Glazed Eggplant recipe doesn’t utilize corn or tomatoes, the ingredients struck a chord with me. I love the umami flavor of miso! Our fifth taste sensation, umami is what makes foods taste savory, complex and deeply satisfying. Consider this rich, pungent paste a supercharged Asian mayo; made from steamed soybeans that have been fermented with rice, barley, or rye. White miso, used here, is the most common variety adding nutty undertones to whatever it touches.

Russ thinks we could improve on this recipe by slicing the eggplant into thick planks and grilling them on both sides, after which you slather on the miso mixture and finish with several minutes under the broiler. We think the slices would make for a better visual on your plate. Hey, we all eat with our eyes first…

Finally, Pattypan Succotash incorporates baby pattypan squash, and screams summer with all of the fresh and colorful ingredients. Alas, neither our supermarket nor local farm stand carried pattypans so another option was to use summer squash as an alternative, which is what we did. Because we had some green beans to use up, we added those when cooking the squash and peppers. Some of the other components? Fresh corn and tomatoes of course!
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Buttery Balsamic Corn with Shiitake and Grilled Onion

(by Joanne Smart)

While grilling the onion for this colorful side dish, we threw some fresh tuna steaks on the grate, and assembled a quick caprese salad as well—dinner, done.

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Slice the kernels directly from the cob without cooking in advance.

Ingredients

  • 1 small red onion, trimmed and cut into 3 or 4 slices
  • 1 tsp. olive oil; more as needed
  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 7 to 8 oz. fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed and coarsely chopped
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 cups fresh corn kernels (from 3 to 4 medium ears)
  • 1 tsp. balsamic vinegar; more to taste

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The red onion slices can be grilled a day ahead of time if necessary.

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Grill the onion slices until tender with some char marks, 4 to 5 minutes per side. 

Directions

  1. Prepare a medium-high (400°F to 475°F) charcoal or gas grill fire. Rub each onion slice with a little olive oil, and grill, turning occasionally, until tender with some grill marks, about 8 minutes. Remove from the grill and coarsely chop.
  2. In a 12-inch skillet, heat 1 Tbs. of the butter and the olive oil over medium heat. Add the shiitake, and season well with salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned and almost tender, 3 to 4 minutes.
  3. Add the corn, onion, and the remaining 1 Tbs. butter, and cook, tossing occasionally, until the corn is tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the balsamic vinegar, season to taste with salt, pepper, and more vinegar, and serve.

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Miso-Glazed Eggplant

(by Erica Clark)

We ended up using the darker red miso. Not on purpose. Of the two containers of miso in the frig, we assumed one was “white,” but you know what happens when one “assumes”… Anywho, it just intensified the flavor and produced a darker color as noted in the photos. And unless you are a fan of real bold and spicy flavors, you may want to omit the Sriracha.

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Slice the eggplant in half, then rub with sesame oil and generously sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Ingredients

  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced, white and green parts separate
  • 2 small Italian eggplants, sliced in half lengthwise
  • Asian sesame oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbs. white miso
  • 1 Tbs. mirin
  • 1 tsp. granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp.grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. sesame seeds
  • Sriracha, optional

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Once the halves are oiled and seasoned, lay the cut side down on a foil-lined baking sheet.

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Just prior to broiling, spread the miso mixture liberally over the cut side. We found that we had to broil at least 4-5 minutes to achieve the slightly charred finish.

Directions

  1. Heat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Brush the eggplant all over with sesame oil, and season with salt and pepper. Place cut side down on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet, and roast for 10 minutes. Flip and roast until tender, another 10 to 15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, combine the miso, mirin, sugar, ginger, scallion whites, and 2 tsp. water in a small bowl. Spread the miso mixture on the cut side of the eggplant, and broil on high until dark in spots, about 2 minutes.
  4. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds, scallion greens, and a little Sriracha, if you like.

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Pattypan Succotash

(by Liz Pearson)

This classic Southern side dish is chock full of squash, corn, peppers, and fresh beans. Pattypan squash, as well as the summer squash, lends a mild buttery flavor. The baby ones, if you can find them, look pretty sweet, too.

Perhaps because I added more veggies than the recipe called for, I had to cook the squash, peppers and green beans around 10 minutes, about 3 times longer than instructed. Make sure you don’t omit the last step of topping with fresh lemon juice and chopped chives as they add a wonderful bright note to the flavors.

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Ingredients

  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 12 oz. pattypan squash (or other summer squash), cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 small red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup fresh corn kernels (from 1-1/2 to 2 medium ears)
  • 1 cup shelled fresh baby lima beans (or frozen, thawed)
  • 1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
  • 2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
  • Thinly sliced fresh chives, for garnish

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After the squash, pepper and green beans are tender, the lima beans, corn and thyme are added to be cooked another several minutes.

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The medley of vegetables just before the fresh lemon juice and chopped chives are added. 

Directions

  1. Melt the butter in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the squash and bell pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the squash is tender and golden, about 3 minutes.
  3. Add the corn, lima beans, thyme, 1-1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 3 minutes more.
  4. Stir in the tomatoes and lemon juice. Serve garnished with chives.

Let us know which of the three was your favorite!

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