Friday, July 22, 2011

Wheatberry salad with pan-roasted corn, blueberries, and gorgonzola vinaigrette

It's still hot. We need more salads. Also, I still have wheatberries, and my CSA box came in today with fresh corn, lovely plump blueberries, and some sort of weird squash. I suppose we'd better get to business.

Berries and vinaigrette are a seriously winning combination. Let's make that thing.

Wheatberry salad with pan-roasted corn, blueberries, and gorgonzola vinaigrette

  • 1.5 c. dry wheatberries
  • 4 ears fresh summer corn
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced finely
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 1 tsbp. virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. fresh leaf or 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 2 medium zephyr (or other summer) squash, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 4 oz. crumbled gorgonzola cheese
  • 1/2 c. virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 c. cider or sherry vinegar

Put the wheatberries in a large bowl, submerge them in cold water, and leave them to soak for at least an hour. Strain off the soaking water, put the berries in a saucepan with six cups of fresh cold water, and heat to a boil. Reduce heat to simmering and cook for 45 minutes, stirring every ten minutes or so so they don't stick in the pan. If they still have any crunchy center at the end of 45 mintues, continue cooking until they're completely chewy. If any water remains at the end of cooking, strain it off. Rinse the wheatberries in cold water (as you might do to pasta), then drain and set them aside.

Meanwhile, strip and clean the corn. For each cob, peel away the green leaves, break them off with the stem, then remove as many of the thready silks as you can.

If any bits of leaf are stuck to any of your cobs, dig them out—the leaves will stay tough even when cooked! A few stray silks, however, are no problem.

Hopefully your corn is sweet enough that you really want to eat it. Go on and take a bite.

…Now stop eating your sweet, delicious corn. You need it for the salad. To separate the kernels from the cobs, hold a cob by its stem end with the top on a cutting board, then cut along the cob with a long, sharp serrated knife. Don't stress too much about depth; if you cut too shallow, you'll lose a bit of corn, but not enough to ruin the salad, and if you try to go too deep, your knife will stick in the cob and you'll know. Try to find a good in-between point and go with it.

Repeat this six or so times with each cob to get all the kernels off. Save the cobs to gnaw while you work on the rest of the salad. If your corn isn't so delicious that you want to gnaw the raw cobs, you need better corn.

This would also be a good time to trim and mince your garlic and shallot and to chop your squash.

Seriously, what the hell kind of squash is that? Well, no matter, it'll be tasty.

When garlic, shallot, and kernel corn are all ready, heat the butter and 1 tbsp. olive oil in a large sauté pan. (Mixing butter and oil raises the butter's smoke point to a usefully high temperature while retaining its delicious flavor.) When the butter has completely melted, add the garlic and shallot, then cook them over medium heat for thirty seconds or so until the shallots start to soften and you can smell the garlic. Add the corn and squahs, then sauté for another two minutes, cooking until the corn and squash just start to show some slight browning. Add the thyme, cook for another thirty seconds to get its aroma, and remove from heat. Set the corn mixture aside until it cools to room temperature.

Finally, we need some vinaigrette. This is easy. Combine remaining olive oil, vinegar, and coarse-cracked black pepper to taste in a bowl, whisking vigorously to combine. Add gorgonzola, stir to coat the cheese, and let it sit for five minutes or so to allow the flavors to meld slightly.

In the ingredients list, I recommend either cider or sherry vinegar. These have very different flavor profiles—a good cider vinegar will be sweet and fruity, while sherry vinegar is medium-dry, tangy, and rich—but both will suit this dish. If you have another favorite vinegar, feel free to experiment! Tangy, acidic vinegars will suit better than syrupy balsamic-style vinegars, but within the former category almost anything should be delicious.

When all the components are ready, mix them in a large bowl with the blueberries.

Don't forget to mix it up.

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