While I’m sinking my teeth into juicy tomatoes and golden corn on the cob I’m simultaneously dreaming of pumpkin bread. Call me a multi-tasker. The latter part of August never fails to leave me content with the present while also dreaming of the future. I’m not ready to let go of my overwhelming summer produce choices, but am very ready to let go of constant sunshine for a while. A few clouds, maybe some drizzle, sweater (ahem, sweatpants) weather and a trip to see colorful fall leaves is in my dreams at the moment. Meanwhile I’ve been heard muttering things at mealtime like I think I’ll cry when tomatoes are out of season, and we need to eat fresh corn every day this month. So before I dream too much, let’s enjoy the late summer staples.
I feel so fortunate to live near Tanaka Farms here in Orange County. They are a little farm that is a slice of heaven for me when I need to escape the city each week, even for just a few minutes. They grown some of the sweetest corn and most flavorful tomatoes I’ve ever tasted in my life. I’ll drive by four or five grocery stores to shop at their farm stand, and will even leave the farmers market each Saturday sans a few crops so I can stop by Tanaka’s stand and stock up. A basket of their cherry tomatoes is like a bag of candy to me, and I can down them one by one – something I’ve otherwise never been able to do. I hope each one of you has a special place like this to visit each summer in your area of the world, and if not, maybe one day soon (come visit, there are lots of ‘maters to go around).
The other week I (over) cooked up a big batch of pinto beans in my pressure cooker and they sort of fell to pieces. As I looked at their shapeless form I thought, chili. Luckily I always keep a few boxes of plain tomatoes in the pantry, but recently I’ve also kept a jar of fire roasted tomatoes. The latter is our fave to use in Mexican flavored chilis, like this one here. For this reason I love chili, all it takes are some beans and tomatoes and you have dinner. Everything else you add is flavor (garlic, onion, spices) and those all come together pretty quickly too. I put a pot of quinoa on the stove to cook while the chili simmered. I knew I wanted something fresh and bright to pile on top of our chili and quinoa bowls – and had been eyeing the corn on all day. This cherry tomato and corn salad comes together in a hot second with the help of the broiler. And just like that, we were enjoying these loaded summer bowls for dinner in under thirty minutes! They have become a new favorite, and we’ve since made them three more times, so it’s with lots of excitement that I get to share them with you here today.
In other news, I’ve just wrapped up shooting all of my equipment for the kitchen equipment guide resource page to come on the site (!). Now I just need to write all of the content and I’ll be sharing it with you so soon – end of next week? Seems ambitious, but I’m going to say it that way I have a push to get-er-done. As great a time it has been going out of town the past few weekends camping, visiting friends, and driving to Phoenix – I’m excited to be staying local this weekend. A trip to the farmers market and some menu planning for a Monday night dinner with our friends is on my list of things to enjoy. But here I am thinking in the future again and dismissing the next two days of the workweek. Let’s make those worthwhile too! I’m going to go bake something with chocolate. xx
CHERRY TOMATO & CORN SALAD W/ PINTO BEAN CHILI & QUINOA
Makes 6 servings, reheats well for meals all week.
pinto bean chili
2 1/2 cups fire roasted tomatoes (I use this one.)
5 cups cooked pinto beans, rinsed and drained
3 large cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup diced yellow onion
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
cracks of fresh black pepper
1 1/2 dry quinoa
2 3/4 (if quinoa is soaked) to 3 (if not soaked) cups filtered water
cherry tomato & corn salad
1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes
3 ears of fresh corn
1 cup chopped, fresh cilantro leaves (and soft stems)
squeeze of fresh lemon juice
salt & pepper
Begin by situating an oven rack 8 inches below the broiler flame in the oven. Turn the boiler on high. Remove the husk from the cobs of corn and place under the broiler on the rack. Turn every 3 to 5 minutes as the kernels become golden and plump.
Once the corn is in the oven, situate two medium pots on the stove. Rinse the quinoa under running water until water runs clear, then add to one pot with the water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a slow simmer, cover, and let cook until all water is absorbed (12 to 15 minutes). Leave to steam with the lid on for another 10 minutes before fluffing with a fork and serving.
Once the quinoa is being brought to a boil, add the chili ingredients to the second pot, all at once. Bring to a simmer and let cook over medium heat for the duration of the quinoa cooking and corn salad being made. Stirring every 5 minutes or so to prevent sticking. Taste and salt as needed.
While the two pots are cooking on the stove and the corn is turning golden under the broiler, prep the cherry tomatoes and cilantro for the corn salad. Wash the cherry tomatoes, pat dry, and slice into quarters. Place them all in a medium size mixing bowl. Rinse and chop the cilantro as well, adding to the same bowl. Cover with a good squeeze of lemon juice and toss.
When the corn is finished, let cool slightly, then slice the kernels off of the cob with a sharp knife. Add to the mixing bowl with the tomatoes and cilantro and toss again. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Assemble the bowls by placing a serving of fluffed quinoa in one half, and the pinto bean chili filling up the other half. Top with plenty of the cherry tomato and corn salad, and enjoy right away.
Leftovers: Cool and store any leftovers in airtight glass containers/jars in the fridge. The chili can be reheated in a small saucepan on the stove over low heat, and the cooked quinoa can be steamed. The cherry tomato and corn salad is perfectly fine served chilled, and all is best eaten within five days.
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