green bean, tomato and corn salad with serrano vinaigrette

green bean, tomato and corn salad with serrano vinaigrette on
green bean, tomato and corn salad with serrano vinaigrette on

There's a flood of summer produce at the farmers markets this week: peaches, heirloom tomatoes, sweet corn, zucchini of every stripe and color! It’s the arrival of the corn and tomatoes though that signals the peak of summer for me; I grew up in corn country and summer dinners often involved corn on the cob served with a thick pat of butter and salted slabs of tomato from my grandma’s garden.

For all the market treasures they bring, these high summer days also breed a certain anxiety in me. So glorious and so fleeting, the month of August kicks my garden variety FOMO into high gear. What if I don't make bbq ribs? Or see an outdoor movie?! Or go on a picnic?!? I haven't taken a single swim all season and time is running out!!!

green bean, tomato and corn salad with serrano vinaigrette on
green bean, tomato and corn salad with serrano vinaigrette on
green bean, tomato and corn salad with serrano vinaigrette on

Of course, I realize that part of this is simply a reaction to the stress of being an adult with adult responsibilities. (Hello, mortgage!) And part of it is my own unique strain of anxiety. But a good part of this impulse to maximize summer fun comes from the child-like spirit buried (more or less deeply) within us all. 

The rational part of me says I should spend my days in front of my camera/computer/phone/stove developing recipes, shooting for the blog and working on the logistics for my next culinary retreat. The 6-year-old version of me wants to go barefoot all day and eat ice cream cones that drip down my arm in the heat and spend hours splashing around at the pool. 

As much as I sometimes want to ignore that 6-year-old version of me, I think it's important to be reminded that summer only comes once a year and that play is an essential part of creativity and yes, even productivity.

green bean, tomato and corn salad with serrano vinaigrette on
green bean, tomato and corn salad with serrano vinaigrette on

So this week I have a recipe that features my favorite summer produce and is so easy to make it will leave you plenty of time for summer frolicking.

Which is precisely what I intend to do over the next four weeks. This Saturday I’m hosting a pop-up dinner with my friend Kyle (which is essentially a glorified backyard barbeque). Beau and I just booked a spur-of-the-moment glamping weekend on a farm outside Seattle. The week after that, I’ll be camping with my momma on Orcas Island. In between, I plan on taking a dip in Lake Washington, eating ice-cold slices of watermelon, working on my nap game, finishing another novel and dreaming up a super-sexy popsicle flavor combination for hot days.

green bean, tomato and corn salad with serrano vinaigrette on

I've decided to work a little less and play a little more. Which is what the month of August, with all it's sweet produce and bright sunshine was made for.

I think the 6-year-old me would approve.

Green Bean, Tomato and Corn Salad with Serrano Vinaigrette

  • 1 lb tender green beans, stemmed
  • Kosher or sea salt, to taste
  • 2 ears sweet corn, shucked
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons champagne or white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup finely minced shallot
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 serrano chile (or to taste), very thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup chopped or sliced basil, cilantro or mint (or a mix)
  • 1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled (optional)

*Notes: Having grown up in corn country, I am admittedly something of a corn snob. But please, please, please use the freshest, sweetest corn you can find for this recipe. It makes all the difference. Corn starts converting its sugars to starch as soon as it's picked, so freshness is key. I try to buy corn at the farmers market that was picked that morning (ask your farmer). I also don't hesitate to pull back the husk and silk to see how fresh the corn is. You want tight, shiny kernels with no mushy or brown spots. I sometimes even pop a kernel off the cob and taste it to see how sweet the corn is. 

- The green beans and corn can be prepared a day in advance. 

- The vinaigrette will keep, covered and refrigerated for a day or so. It will keep a few days longer if you don’t add the serranos until you dress the salad.

green bean, tomato and corn salad with serrano vinaigrette on

Bring a large pot of generously salted water to the boil. While the water is heating, prepare an ice bath by filling a large bowl with ice and water. 
When the water comes to the boil, add the green beans and cook until crisp-tender. (The precise time will vary depending on the size of your beans.) Remove the beans from the water with tongs or a slotted spoons and transfer to the ice bath. When beans are completely cooled, remove them from the ice bath and lay them out on a a kitchen towel to dry.

While the beans are cooking, cut the corn from the cobs and set aside. Slice the cherry tomatoes in half and set aside.

To make the vinaigrette, combine the lime juice, vinegar, shallot, thyme and a generous pinch of salt in a medium bowl. Gradually whisk in the olive oil. Add the serrano; taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.

To assemble the salad, combine the green beans, corn, tomatoes and half the remaining herbs in a large bowl. Dress with the vinaigrette to taste. Transfer to a serving platter and top with the rest of the herbs and the feta (if using). 

Makes 4-6 servings.

Vinaigrette recipe adapted from Hugh Acheson

green bean, tomato and corn salad with serrano vinaigrette on

simple suppers: salmon chowder with fennel and corn

salmon chowder with fennel and corn //

We’ve arrived at the in-between season. In between light and dark. Sun dresses and sweaters. Breezy picnics and holiday roasts. It’s that precarious moment that floats at the intersection of summer and fall, characterized by morning fog and the afternoon shedding of layers. 

salmon chowder with fennel and corn //

I am writing this from my kitchen table, listening to a gentle breeze rock the blinds. It’s warm and there’s a fan oscillating lazily in the corner. But something feels different. I know you feel it, too. The air is different. The light is different. The trees are gilded at their edges.

I like that this in-between season usually only lasts a handful of weeks, its brevity leading me to savor it all the more. To slip in a few more hours in the garden or one more afternoon of reading in the sun. 

salmon chowder with fennel and corn //

So this week’s Simple Supper is dedicated to the in-between season. When you want your cooking to reflect the brightness of summer and the comfort of fall all at once. This Salmon Chowder with Fennel and Corn is substantial enough to stand on it’s own as a meal. But it’s lighter than most chowders. And I’ve added delicate, herbaceous fennel (bulb and seed); sweet summer corn and enough white wine to lift and brighten the whole affair. 

salmon chowder with fennel and corn //

To me, this is what summer-into-fall cooking should feel like. And the whole thing comes together in under an hour. Which should leave you plenty of time for any end-of-summer frolicking you might want to take care of.

As always, I hope you’ll make this dish your own. Let me know in the comments, below, if you have any questions on substitutions or techniques and/or if you’re feeling these Simple Suppers recipes. I love to hear from you!

salmon chowder with fennel and corn //

Salmon Chowder with Fennel and Corn

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus additional to garnish
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seed
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • ½ medium fennel bulb, diced, fronds reserved for garnish
  • 3 small carrots, peeled and sliced into rounds
  • ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika (regular paprika works, too)
  • Kosher or sea salt, to taste
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup clam juice
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 large Yukon Gold potato, peeled and cut into large dice
  • 1 ½ cups corn (from about 2 cobs of fresh corn or 1 14-oz. can)
  • ½ cup cream
  • ½ teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
  • 1 lb. wild salmon, skin and pin bones removed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley, to garnish
  • 3 tablespoons snipped chives, to garnish

*Notes: I originally developed this recipe to pair with Tieton Cider Works Wild Washington apple cider. It is delicous with cider and if you have access to Tieton Cider Works cider or another great dry or semi-dry apple cider, you should feel free to substitute it for the wine.

- I've made this chowder with king, sockeye and coho salmon. Surprisingly, I liked it best with the leanest of these of these, the coho. I think the milder flavor of coho works well with the delicate sweet corn and fennel. If you love big salmon flavor, try king or sockeye. I think white king would be especially nice.

- I learned the trick about adding the salmon off the heat from Becky Selengut. She's an amazing chef and a seafood guru. If you don't know her or her cookbooks, you should.

salmon chowder with fennel and corn //

In a large, heavy-bottomed stockpot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the fennel seed and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add the onion, fennel, carrots, smoked paprika and a generous pinch of salt and cook, stirring frequently, for 1 minute. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and cook until the vegetables are translucent and have softened a bit, about 8 minutes. Do not brown.

Add the white wine and bay leaf and increase the heat to medium. Cook, uncovered, for 3 minutes. Add the clam juice, milk, potato and corn. Bring the chowder to a bare simmer. (Do not let it boil or it will break; it will taste fine, but look curdled.) Continue to cook at a bare simmer, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are quite tender, about 30 minutes. Stir in the cream and black pepper and bring the chowder back up to a bare simmer.

Remove the chowder from the heat and add the salmon. Cover and let sit for 5 minutes off the heat. This will cook the salmon through without overcooking it.

Serve the chowder garnished with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of fennel fronds, parsley, and chives.

Makes 4-6 servings.

salmon chowder with fennel and corn //