The end of August always messes with me. It used to be the pain of going back to school, now it’s the pain of losing access to my beloved summer produce. This year it’s especially bad; even though it’s still hot and even though I just picked my first tomato a week ago, there’s that whisper of fall in the air. I feel like I’m just getting started and it’s almost over.
But we shan’t dwell. No, we’d best ignore the school buses practicing their routes, the saw bugs buzzing at dusk and dawn, the pumpkin-festooned covers of magazines that have started arriving, and just go on and enjoy what we’ve got while it’s here. We’d best make hay while the sun shines.
So let’s do this. Let’s make another tasty salad jammed with summer flavors: ripe tomatoes from the garden, sweet corn, and basil. It’s still too warm to cook indoors, so , obviously, we’ll have to put the grill to use. Why don’t we add some calamari and take it from simple summer side dish to stunning summer entree? Ready? Let’s do this late-summer dinner dance.
Head to your garden or the farmer’s market and load up on the late summer goodies: big, red heirloom tomatoes, sweet corn, and fragrant fresh basil.
Mix up a simple marinade for the calamari–just olive oil, lemon juice and zest, salt, and a hefty pinch of red pepper flakes. Start with whole tubes of calamari, preferably with tentacles attached or nearby, so they seem less likely to actually be this.
Grill a couple of ears of sweet corn and a bunch of scallions until they begin to char here and there. Add the calamari and grill for a minute or 2 on each side until they’ve turned opaque.
Head on inside and getting chopping. Slice the corn off the cob and into a bowl. Chunk up a juicy red tomato. Chop the grilled scallions and cut the calamari tubes crosswise into rings. Toss the veggies with olive oil and lemon juice and add lots of torn basil leaves. If you have purple basil, use it! Your salad will look like even more of a party on a plate.
- ¾ # Calamari Tubes & Tentacles, cleaned, rinsed, and patted dry
- 2 ears Sweet Corn
- 1 large Tomato (I used a giant heirloom variety; if you’re using a smaller tomato, 2+ might be preferable.), cut into ½ in. chunks
- 1 bunch (about 8) Scallions
- 3 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil, divided
- zest of 1 Lemon
- ¼-1/2 tsp. Red Pepper Flakes
- Kosher Salt
- 2 Tbsp. + 2 tsp. Fresh Lemon Juice
- ¼ c. torn Basil Leaves (I used a mix of green & purple basil)
- Combine 2 Tbsp. of the olive oil, lemon zest, 2 Tbsp. lemon juice, red pepper flakes to taste, and ½ tsp. salt in a small baking pan or shallow bowl. Toss calamari tubes and tentacles with the mixture, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to marinate in the refrigerator for about 1 hr.
- Light the grill. Create an even, hot fire. Grill the corn and scallions until slightly charred. This should take 8-10 minutes, depending on how hot your grill is. Watch the scallions carefully; they can go from slightly charred to burnt pretty quickly. Grill the calamari until opaque, 1-2 minutes per side. Pile the tentacles together to prevent them from dropping between the grill grates or place on a piece of foil.
- Let the corn cool slightly, until you are able to handle it. Slice the kernels off the cobs and into a bowl. Cut the white and light green parts of the scallions into 1 in. lengths and add them to the bowl along with the tomato. Dress with about 1 Tbsp. olive oil, 2 tsp. lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Scatter the basil in and toss once more.
- Cut the calamari tubes crosswise into rings. I like to make thicker rings, ranging from ¼ in. to ½ in. thick for a variety of textures. If you prefer thin and even calamari rings, by all means, cut them in ⅛-1/4 in intervals. Mound the rings along with the tentacles atop the salad and serve.