Easy Sweet Corn Salad with Basil and Feta

White square plate with sweet corn salad with basil and feta cheese.

Fresh corn is such a distinctly nostalgic thing to eat. It’s attached to so many memories of heading sleepily home after a day at The Pinery, a provincial park lining several sandy beaches along Lake Huron. My parents would pull over at a roadside produce stand, the kind involving a strict honour system and a glass jar for payment, and come back with bags of fresh corn and peaches. Compared to my idyllic childhood experience of lazily prepping corn on a lawn chair in the backyard, still wearing my bathing suit in case the lawn sprinkler was turned on after dinner, husking corn in a small apartment is slightly less picturesque. Although any method of preparing the corn will work, I like to roast mine husk, silk, and all in my toaster oven; the corn is steamed and the rest falls away easily once its cooled down. Using apple cider vinegar for the pickled shallots makes the corn taste even sweeter and fresh basil offers, well, the amazing taste and aroma of fresh basil. You could use Cotija cheese or chevre if you prefer, but I like creamy Macedonian feta best of all. Since fresh corn is only available for a short amount of time you can definitely use good-quality frozen corn in its place, heat it up in a small amount of olive oil in a cast iron skillet until just starting to char in spots. This salad goes with just about any summer meal you can think of; barbecued chicken, skewered vegetables with tzatziki, and watermelon are a few of my favourite accompaniments.

sweet corn salad with basil and feta:

Corn from 5-6 cobs of corn

3 shallots, finely minced

3 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup olive oil

1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard

1 large handful of fresh basil + more for garnish, cut in a chiffonade

About 2/3 cup of crumbled feta cheese

Kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper

Add the corn to a large salad bowl. In a small mixing bowl combine the shallots with the apple cider vinegar; let stand for 15 minutes. Add the olive oil, mustard, basil, salt, and pepper to taste; pour over the corn. Finish the salad by sprinkling with the crumbled feta and extra basil, tasting to see if it needs and more salt or freshly cracked pepper. Enjoy chilled or at room temperature.

I know fall is fast approaching when my American Analog Set listening goes up, soon I’ll be walking around in warm sweaters at night listening to this album on headphones. For now, I perversely listen to them while preparing some of the summeriest food imaginable. Such a lovely melody, I can smell the autumn leaves already.

American Analog Set – Magnificent Seventies

Garlicky Greens with a Fried Egg

I like to make this when I’ll be eating alone because it can be made in one skillet and ingredients are easily tampered with for a different taste each time you prepare these garlicky greens with a fried egg perched on top. Whenever I buy greens I immediately wash and seperate them upon arriving home and then store them in a large reusable takeout container on top of a piece of damp paper towel. I find that this method ensures gorgeous green leaves for at least a week, during which I will usually have made these greens and copious green smoothies. You can use whichever types of greens you like; for this meal I used my 3 favourites which are red swiss chard, kale, and bok choy. Peppery greens like mustard greens and broccoli rabe would also be lovely accompaniements to the garlic and soy dressing. Garlic chili paste is my condiment of choice for this dinner; sriracha, salsa, spicy mustard or even cilantro pesto are all perfect too.

garlicky greens with a fried egg:

About 4 cups of mixed greens, roughly torn into small-ish pieces

2 tsp. mild cooking oil such as grapeseed or canola

4 cloves of garlic, minced finely

1/4 cup of soy sauce

1 tsp. sesame oil

1 tsp. rice wine vinegar

1tsp. dried chili flakes (this makes it quite spicy so scale back by at least half if you don’t want that much heat)

1 tsp. toasted sesame seeds

1 egg

Your choice of savoury condiment

1. Over medium-high heat cook the greens in the oil, adding some water if needed. Using kitchen tongs toss the greens quickly as they cook, after a minute or two add the minced garlic, soy sauce, sesame oil, hot chilis and sesame seeds and continue to cook until the greens are wilted and very bright. Transfer to your plate.

2. Put the skillet back on the burner and fry an egg, there should be enough oil left over that you don’t need to add more but be the judge of that yourself. To me the idea of a runny yolk is romantic when eating eggs but in reality I hate runny yolks and make sure my egg is completely cooked through before I eat it; again, I leave this in your hands.

3. Place the egg on top of your mountain of greens, add condiment of choice and eat rapidly and happily.

My top 3 trying-to-relax-after-work artists are Nick Drake, Chet Baker, and American Analog Set. Therefore it’s not stretch at all to say that I’ll be listening to this band at least 3 nights a week and lately more specifically their album Set Free (I tend to oscillate between Set Free and the very different The Fun of Watching Fireworks.) Their music is always perfectly suited to my mood and to my environment, insistently adaptable to pretty much everything for 10 years of my life.

American Analog Set – Green Green Grass

Easy Green Curry

This is one easy green curry to put together for a meal that is light tasting yet voluptuous with coconut milk and generous amounts of both lemon and lime zest to boost and complement the lovely green of the vegetables. I chose the vegetables based on produce prices this morning; other choices could include zucchini, peas, broccoli, other types of Chinese cabbage, and green beans. I’ve made this green curry with jasmine rice and it’s equally delicious, but rice noodles can simply be soaked in room temperature water for an hour or so before consuming and I realize that many people are experiencing hot weather that doesn’t exactly inspire additional sources of heat. Also, while on the subject of heat, if you prefer a spicier green curry add a minced green chili to the coconut milk with the stock and aromatics.

green curry:

1 400 mL can of coconut milk

2 Tbsp. green curry paste

2 Tbsp. fish sauce or soy sauce

1 tsp. sugar

1 Tbsp. minced fresh ginger root

1 1/2 cups of vegetable stock

Zest of one lime and one lemon

1 medium-sized bunch of asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 bunch of scallions, the whites and the greens cut into 1-inch pieces

6 bunches of baby bok choy

The juice of 1-2 limes

Cilantro, roughly torn for garnish

Rice noodles, cooked according to package directions and rinsed under cold water

1. In a medium-sized saucepan whisk together a small amount of the coconut milk with the curry paste over medium-high heat; allow to boil gently for a few minutes before adding the rest of the coconut milk.

2. Add the fish oil, vegetable stock, ginger root, sugar, lemon and lime zest to the coconut milk and curry paste mixture and bring to a slow boil for 3-5 minutes. Stir in the asparagus, scallions, and bok choy and cook for 3-4 minutes – they really should remain slightly crispy when being served.

3. Stir in the lime juice and serve over rice noodles with a generous garnish of cilantro.

The American Analog Set has been a constant for me throughout the end of high school and my entire university career. I have the strongest memories of walking around in the rain on campus, looking at the autumn-orange trees against the black dome of my umbrella, feeling slightly more secure in surroundings that often left me feeling invisible. I think of this music as comforting and constant and somewhat sexy, every time I put it on I remember something about why I love it and why it’s important. Tonight I was cooking and I wanted the little pieces of belonging that have always come from the music that I grew into my own self with.

American Analog Set – Gone to Earth