A Tale of Terror and Bravery – Corn, Zucchini, and Red Pepper Salad with Feta

Corn and zucchini salad with red pepper and feta

Some chopped  fresh veggies

I have debated the merits of including the descriptions of BUGS IN MY FOOD before a tasty recipe, but all other descriptions of this salad pale in comparison to the True Tale of Terror. So, please keep in mind as you read: “Nature is terrible but this corn salad is delicious.”

This is the story of how I almost died, but was the most courageous girl in the world and managed to finish this corn salad despite the extreme terror and agony I suffered.

THERE I WAS, innocently shucking corn for a corn salad. I peeled back the husk, only to see the world’s LARGEST WORM lunge at me from the corn kernels.

death worm

ACTUAL SIZE OF CORN DEATH WORM

 

I screamed and threw the corn into the trash can, then retreated into the furthest corner of the kitchen. Needing to share my terror, I called Christopher, who was driving back from Target.

“Hello?” he said.

“AUUUGGGHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!” I said, bravely, in the calmest tones despite the abject terror before me.

“WHAT’S WRONG!?!” he said, flooring the gas, assuming I was the victim of a stabbing.

“WORM! CORN! AUGH! WORM!”

“That’s – that’s it?” he said, obviously not understanding the sheer terror I had bravely faced.

“IT’S IN THE TRASH CAN WAITING TO ATTACK. TAKE IT AWAY. TAKE IT AWAY.” I said, calmly and rationally, with pure survivor instincts.

He hung up on me, obviously needing to focus on driving speedily to come to my side to fight the Death Worm Beast. I tweeted about my harrowing experience, as one does.

When he finally arrived, not appreciating the ongoing threat, Christopher removed the corn from the trash and examined the worm. I had not expected to face my enemy again so soon. “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?! IT’S GOING TO ATTACK.”

He assured me it was not, but returned it to the trash can. After shucking the rest of the corn and examining the rest for unwelcome guests, the Corn Death Worm and its corresponding corn cob were whisked away to Trash Land.

I, the picture of bravery, knew now what must be done. I must finish the corn salad.

SO. This corn salad, WORM FREE, is absolutely delicious. The dressing is tangy, the vegetables crisp, and the feta cheese creamy. I started out using a recipe from Bon Appetit, but changed up a few of the ingredients along the way. OBVIOUSLY there was less corn than originally planned. I cut down the amount of zucchini because there really is so much raw zucchini one can take. I added a diced red pepper  for crispness and sweetness. I also upped the amount of feta cheese, because if there’s one thingI know, it’s that there is never such a thing as too much cheese.

You should definitely make this salad. You should also definitely check your corn at the store for unwanted intruders.

 

corn and zucchini salad with red peppers and feta

corn salad of bravery

Corn, Zucchini, and Red Pepper Salad with Feta

(Adapted from this recipe by Bon Appetit)

Ingredients

  • 3 ears of corn, husked
  • 1 medium sized zucchini
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/4 cup basil, chopped
  • 1/4 cup parsley, chopped
  • 1/3 cup of olive oil
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 ounces of feta, crumbled

Directions

  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Cook the corn in the boiling water for three minutes until bright yellow, remove from water and let cool. Once cooled, cut the kernels from the cob.
  2. Meanwhile, using a mandoline or vegetable peeler, slice the zucchini lengthwise, forming thin strips.
  3. Combine the corn kernels, zuchinni slices, red pepper, basil, parsley, olive oil, vinegar, and crushed red pepper. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Top with feta.

 

 

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Parmesan and Sage Crusted Pork Chops and Cheezy Orzo

 

Finally a balcony not occupied by wasps.

Parmesan everywhere!

We moved last weekend. It was very dramatic, complete with Christopher spraining his ankle the day before the move. Cooking currently takes eight times longer, since grabbing a fork now involved opening every drawer in the kitchen while yelling “WHY IS EVERYTHING SOMEWHERE WRONG?!”

Tired of take out but reluctant to run one more errand, I wanted to cook a meal from what I already had on hand, which in this case happened to be pork chops and Locatelli Parmesan cheese. Extensive googling of “Pork chop recipe” “pork chop parmesan recipe” “QUICK Pork chop recipe” finally led me to this Cooking Light recipe for Parmesan and Sage Crusted Pork Chops.

I used to be very suspicious of Cooking Light, but far from the usual “use sadness instead of sugar!” and other terrible substitutions you see floating around, they have careful and well crafted recipes that make you go “Really, this is healthy? Nice!”

The battering process they use for the pork in this recipe provides maximum adherence of the lovely cheesey breading. You coat the pork chops in flour to dry them and help adhere the egg whites and mustard mixture, followed by dipping them into the bread crumbs, sage, and Parmesan. The result is a light, flaky, cheesy breading over tender pork with a hint of tang from the mustard.

Obviously I could not allow a “light” recipe to stand alone, so I paired it with cheesy orzo (adding an extra half cup of cheese to the recipe, I regret NOTHING), and a green salad. I left the orzo alone for most of the cooking process until most of the liquid was absorbed, then stirred continuously like it was a risotto, resulting in a creamier texture.

Start to finish, this took about 40 minutes, which could work well on a weeknight. I imagine you would be even speedier if you knew where all your forks were hiding.

Photo Credit: Randy Mayor

Parmesan and Sage Crusted Pork Chops

(Cooking Light, December 2008) – Recipe by Lorrie Hulston Corvin

Serves 4

My Notes: 

  • I sliced those one inch Costco pork chops in half so I didn’t have to fiddle with my meat thermometer and for maximum breading to pork ratio. You could also make things easier on yourself and use thin-cut pork chops.
  • I had no white bread to toast and three containers of bread crumbs to choose from, so I used Panko bread crumbs and it worked perfectly. I’d actually recommend this  over making your own bread crumbs.
  • I used one teaspoon of dried sage instead of fresh.
  • I used dijon mustard.

Ingredients: 

  • 1 (1 1/4-ounce) slice white bread, torn into pieces
  • 1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon prepared mustard
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 4 (4-ounce) boneless thin-cut pork loin chops, trimmed
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons canola oil

Preparation:

  1. Place bread in a food processor; pulse bread 10 times or until coarse crumbs measure about 1 cup. Combine breadcrumbs, cheese, sage, salt, and pepper in a shallow dish. Place flour in another shallow dish. Combine mustard and egg whites in another shallow dish, stirring with a whisk.
  2.  Working with one pork chop at a time, dredge pork in flour, shaking off excess. Dip pork into egg white mixture, allowing excess to drip off. Coat pork completely with breadcrumb mixture. Set aside. Repeat procedure with remaining pork, flour, egg white mixture, and breadcrumb mixture.
  3.  Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add oil to pan, swirling to coat. Add pork; cook 3 minutes on each side or until browned and done.

 

Cheesy Orzo 

Adapted from Rachel Ray

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • 14 ounces chicken broth
  • 1 cups orzo pasta
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano or Romano
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions

  1. Heat an 8 inch pot over moderate heat. Add the olive oil and heat until shimmering. Add the onion and saute unit soft, 2 to three minutes. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Add the orzo and return to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat to a simmer and cover the pan. Simmer for 15 minutes, stirring every five minutes or so, until most of the liquid has been absorbed.
  2. To add a risotto-like texture to the orzo, begin stirring the orzo continuously when most of the liquid has been absorbed. Begin adding the Parmesan, stirring continuously until all cheese has been added and is melted. Serve immediately, with additional Parmesan.