Summer Salad of Tomatoes, Peaches, Avocado and Corn with Crab

August 10, 2012

Start to finish: 30 minutes
Hands on time: 30 minutes

I usually feel dinner challenged at this point of the summer. It’s too hot to turn on the oven and who wants another grilled chicken breast or burger by August 1?  But now is the best time to take advantage of the “eat it while it’s fresh” seasonal produce and in my neck of the woods that means corn, tomatoes and New Haven peaches. How about a fresh dinner salad from my latest farmer’s market run?

Lucky for us the sunny, dry summer has blessed our region with some of the best tasting produce in memory. It might not be a bumper crop, but the flavor has been spectacular and I’m more than happy to pay the slightly higher prices. Sometimes, though, the best produce comes free from a friend’s garden. As if on cue, Joe Coffee surprised me the other day with the best tomatoes of the season. Think of the most delicious tomato you ever tasted… yes, they were that good.

With ingredients this pristine, it’s best to keep it simple. Combining tomato and peach is like any good marriage; one improves upon the other. The peach makes the tomato sweeter and the tomato’s acid gives the sweetness of the peach a little oooomph. Crunchy corn, buttery avocado, a summer perfume of basil, shallot vinaigrette and sea tinged crab round out this colorful meal. Truly a party on a plate, you want to use only the highest quality produce, salt, pepper, olive oil and balsamic for this no-cook meal to hit the high notes. If only I could eat like this every night.

So there you have it. A non-challenging, no cook meal courtesy of summer, local farmers and of course, Joe Coffee.

It’s that easy: There’s no need to crack open a crab and manually pick out the meat. Philips, a widely available purveyor of refrigerated crabmeat, has done all the messy work for you. Look for it in the refrigerated case in an 8 oz/225 g plastic container.

2 delicious tomatoes, sliced
2 New Haven peaches or similar tree ripened peach, sliced
1 ripe avocado, sliced
1 shallot, minced, about 2 tbsp/30 ml
Fleur de sel (French sea salt)
Freshly ground black pepper (I use tellicherry)
2 tbsp/30 ml balsamic vinegar (nice if aged 5 years or so)
1 ear corn, shucked
1/4 cup/60 ml best you can afford extra virgin olive oil
8 oz/225 g back fin crabmeat (see I’ts that easy)
About 10 basil leaves, torn

Slice the tomato, peach and avocado and mince the shallot on a large cutting board. Arrange the sliced produce attractively on two plates and sprinkle it with fleur de sel and black pepper. Combine the shallot and vinegar in a medium bowl along with a pinch of salt and grind pepper.

Shuck the corn and cut the kernels from the cob with a sharp knife. ( I do it in a bowl and to corral the errant run away kernels.) Scatter the corn over the salads.

Whisk the remaining oil into the vinegar and taste to see if it needs more salt or pepper.. Drizzle half the dressing over the plates and toss the crab into the remaining bowl of vinaigrette tossing it gently so as not to break up the lumps of crab. Taste the crab and season it again with more salt and pepper if it needs it. Each element has to be able to stand on its own for this salad to be exceptional.

Scatter the basil over the top and divide the crab between the salads. If you are feeling like a sybarite, drizzle with more olive oil. Dine.

Looking for a little something to go with this salad or stretching it out to serve more than two? Add these Summer Rolls with Shrimp, Cucumber and Mango for a fun side.

In the glass: Gotta go white here. Whatever is refreshing and crisp. I’m loving Arca Nova, a vinho verde from Portugal. It has a little fizz and enough acid to counter the richness of the avocado and crab and yes, it makes this salad taste even more delicious.


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