It's mid-July. How did that happen already?
Every summer, 4th of July is sort of a bittersweet holiday for me. It's the pinnacle of summer, and while I love the fireworks and the cookouts, it also whispers "Summer is half-way over. It's going to go fast from here." Stores take July 1st as their signal to start putting up all their back-to-school items, and then before you know it, it's August and all the regular stresses of busy fall life begin to descend.
I'm intentionally trying a different attitude this year. I want to soak up every moment of this summer--the long daylight and bike-rides at sunset, watering my little garden, reading for pleasure, eating ice cream and other frozen treats, and just generally basking in this slower pace of life. I know it won't last forever, but I don't want to waste one moment of it worrying.
Mid-July also happens to be my and Adam's anniversary. Last year I recreated our wedding cake. (amaretto cake with lavender icing) This year, I contemplated recreating our entire wedding menu, but then I realized that was insane.
I've now decided to just do one dish at a time. That should last me until our fifth wedding anniversary at least, I think….
I remember seeing this tomato, corn, avocado and basil salad on the caterer's sample menu and knowing immediately I wanted to serve it our wedding. There are many downsides to getting married in July in North Carolina, but one benefit is the exceptional produce. The fresh tomatoes and corn really shine in this dish.
I added my own twist to this recipe based on a similar one I found in the book Delancy. Molly uses a basil shallot vinaigrette and allows the shallots and garlic to pickle in the vinegar for an hour before assembling the salad. It's definitely not necessary, but we found it added a nice acidic contrast to the other flavors.
My better half is traveling a lot for week lately, and I'm feeling his absence strongly. I've written sappy things about marriage before, so I won't go overboard today.
I'll just say that I am so thankful for him, and for the way our love makes this sometimes disappointing and unpredictable life so so good.
Enjoy these last few weeks of July, friends!
Tomato, Corn & Avocado Stacks with Basil Shallot Vinaigrette
2 large beefsteak tomatoes, sliced
1 fresh ears of corn, kernels carefully removed with a sharp knife
1 ripe avocado, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 medium shallot, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
5 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1/8 tsp sugar
pinch of salt & pepper
10 fresh basil leaves, divided
In a small bowl, combine the shallots, garlic and vinegar. Set aside for 1 hour or more to let the flavors adjust. (The shallot and garlic flavors are mellowed and slightly pickled by the vinegar.)
Whisk in the olive oil, sugar, salt, and 5 of the basil leaves. Use the back of a spoon to press the basil leaves, releasing their oil. Let the dressing rest for another 30 minutes, then transfer to a mason jar or other air-tight container and remove the basil leaves.
To assemble the salad, combine the corn kernels and avocado in a medium bowl. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Arrange the sliced tomatoes on a plate. Top with the corn/avocado mixture. Drizzle with basil shallot vinaigrette. Sprinkle the top of each stack with shredded basil leaves
Salad recipe adapted from our wedding menu. Basil Shallot vinaigrette adapted from Molly Wizenberg's Delancey.
Wedding photo from the amazing Lime Green Photography.