With the currents of change ever in motion, I find comfort in certain annual arrivals, those things that show up, over and over, almost like clockwork. Habits and rituals!
Every March, coinciding with Bill’s goddaughter’s birthday, our plum tree puts out a shock of blooms–a portent of the fruit to come. By the 4th of July, I can count on finding the first of the Bradley tomatoes, in all their ripe-red glory, at the farmers market.
And, in early June, right before Nashville’s Country Music “Fan Fare,” our good neighbor and gardener Ray appears with his special fare: the gift of his green beans: thin, tender, and just picked.
Yesterday afternoon, a knock at the front door–and there was Ray, brown sack of green beans in hand. “Time for your yearly allotment,” he said with a wry smile.
I peeked inside. The beans still had the garden warmth in them.
When presented with fresh-as-it-gets, one is prudent to act quickly. I thanked Ray, and made haste to the kitchen to reassess dinner plans. Something different for a salad!
We have been eating a lot of salads. Our garden plot of mixed lettuces has been flourishing. Each day, I pick and clean a few handfuls for dinner. I might pluck a few sprigs from the feathery patch of dillweed. Rows of green onions have grown tall–so great to yank a couple of them out of the ground as needed.
And, the weather has been more like late August than early June. It’s propelled us to cool dining: minimal use of the stove, and maximum use of the greens, before summer temperatures turn them bitter.
I remembered a wonderful salad I had many years ago in Philadelphia, at a little independent cafe called The White Dog. Very forward in the farm-to-table movement, they procured their produce from the Amish in Lancaster County. This salad married fresh grilled corn, greens, and bacon in a tangy buttermilk based dressing. It was simple and delicious—and could be adapted in a number of directions.
Green beans, such as Ray’s, would work. Later in the summer, some Sungold tomatoes would be divine in the toss. Cucumbers are a natural. Poached Salmon too.
It all hinges on the buttermilk.
Essentially a “ranch” dressing, this is what ranch might really be like, if it weren’t distilled into a packaged powder, or laced with corn syrup, chemical preservatives and bottled. Buttermilk dressings are so easy to whisk up, so tasty, that you’ll never want the commercially made stuff ever.
Green onions and fresh dill bring the summer garden into the dressing.
I’ve made this batch a little thin—with less mayo. If you like a more full-bodied dressing, add a spoonful or two more.
As for this salad, you can use one skillet for the small amount of cooking. First, cook the bacon. After you remove the crisp bits and drain off the grease, griddle and char the corn. It will pick up a little leftover smokiness. Last, those slender green beans–which take mere moments to blanche: Add a little water to the same skillet, and give them a quick plunge.
A delectable combination of creamy and crisp, salt and sweet,
Yet another delicious way to celebrate my yearly allotment.
GREEN BEAN-BACON-GRILLED CORN SALAD
2 strips thick-cut Bacon, cut into small pieces
1 large ear of Corn
4 oz. fresh Green Beans
fresh washed Lettuces for salad base
Buttermilk-Dill Dressing (see below)
In a large skillet, cook bacon on medium low heat until crisp. Remove bacon to a paper towel to drain. Pour off grease. Return skillet to heat and drop in the ear of corn. Cover and let the corn steam and slightly char as it cooks. Add a few glugs of water if it seems too dry, and the corn is not steaming. Cook the corn for about 7-9 minutes. Remove from skillet. Add green beans to skillet and cover with water. Add a pinch of salt. Blanche on medium heat for about 3-4 minutes.
Remove from heat and assemble salad.
Cut corn, in chunks, off of the cob. Toss with green beans and place on a bed of lettuce.
Sprinkle bacon bits over the vegetables. Spoon the buttermilk-dill dressing over the salad. Dig in.
3/4 cup Buttermilk (lowfat is fine to use)
1-2 Green Onions, sliced thinly
a few sprigs of Fresh Dillweed, finely chopped to make 2 T.
1 T. fresh Lemon Juice
2 T. Hellman’s or Duke’s Mayonnaise (more, if you want fuller bodied dressing)
a few grindings of Black Pepper
Whisk all of the ingredients together in a mixing bowl. Add more lemon for tartness, or more mayo for fuller body. Taste for salt and pepper. Refrigerate. Flavors will develop over time, (although the dressing is good right away, too.) and the dressing will keep, covered, for about a week.
Makes 1 cup