Okay, here’s a confession. I try to be as good as possible with leftovers, but reinventing a dish — or using the components in a different way — is an area where I’m not so skilled. It bothers me, this failing of mine, but at least I’m aware of it, right? And at least I’ve got friends to help me out.
Melissa was helping me tidy up after Saturday night’s dinner when I asked her, “Is this basil worth saving?” I had a small bundle of basil ribbons left, but not so small a bunch that I could chuck them without thinking.
“Yes,” she said emphatically. “There’s so many things you can do. Toss it with some greens tomorrow, or some pasta. Or,” she said slowly, an idea clearly forming in her head, “you could make a corn salad. Use some dressing, some tomatoes, cheese…”
As Melissa spoke more about corn and basil, I began thinking of corn’s sweet crunch and how each bright bite automatically brings to mind the glorious, lazy days of summer — days of humidity as thick as honey, days of sun flowing through densely-leafed trees like lemonade from a pitcher. Then I turned to the window and looked out into the dark, the glow cast from my well-lit kitchen reflected back at me, and through that I saw the falling powdery snow.
I’m not much for summer or winter — I’m more of a spring/fall girl myself — but right then and there I wanted something to remind me that the cold isn’t around forever. Since we had just eaten I knew I’d have to wait, so last night I eagerly unloaded my fridge. Out came a crumbly piece of goat cheese, out came the teeny fistful of shredded basil, out came the leftover vinaigrette Melissa emulsified, out came a lonely unseasonal tomato, out came a slug of butter. From the freezer I unearthed a small bag of sweet corn, which went into a sauté pan after the melted butter. Soon corn was all I could smell. A few short minutes later, I was folding myself into a blanket (which I secured in place with a binder clip, how chic!) and wrapping my cold hands around the corn’s still-toasty bowl. If I closed my eyes, I could have fooled myself into thinking it was the sun keeping me warm.
Made-Up Corn Salad
Makes two portions
2 cups cooked corn kernels, fresh or frozen
1 medium tomato, cored, seeded and chopped
fresh basil chiffonade
4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
1 ½ tablespoons red wine vinegar
½ tablespoon honey
2 ½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- If you’re using frozen kernels, melt 1 tablespoon of butter in a sauté pan over medium heat; add corn and hear until warmed through. Set aside to cool.
- In a small bowl, combine vinegar, honey, and salt and pepper to taste. Slowly whisk in olive oil until mixture is completely emulsified.
- In a larger bowl, combine corn, tomato, basil and goat cheese; drizzle the reserved vinaigrette over the salad, toss and serve.