A Summer Lunch

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As mentioned in my introduction, I have an impulsive cooking style. One day I'll vilify sugar, and the next I'll welcome it with open arms. My contradictory health posts may come across as hypocritical, but life is about moderation.  Sometimes there is no substitute for a nostalgic slice of key lime pie on a summer day. So with that said, I kept tradition with two classic items on this menu. You won't find a vegan replacement mayonnaise, gluten free bread, or sugarless dessert. For those of you that are disappointed, I'll give you this opportunity to slip out quietly through the back (or stick around for the vegan salad- which is delicious I might add). For the gluttonous, welcome! 

I decided to make a Charred Corn and Watermelon Salad, Lobster Rolls, and Key Lime Pie to commemorate the beginning of the season. If green is the color of spring, then reds, yellows, and oranges represent summer. This season yields sweet, colorful produce that is best kept uncomplicated. Simplicity is key.

America can't claim many dishes, but the lobster roll is surely its greatest culinary achievement (in my eyes anyway). Nothing screams American pride like carbs and mayonnaise, and that just so happens to be the greatest vessel for this prized crustacean. A simple squeeze of lemon and fresh herbs garnish this decadent summer sandwich.

The accompanying salad couldn't be outsummered if it tried. The season's bounty comes together to create a fresh, colorful, and beautiful dish, while the preparation couldn't be more simple. Its versatility as a side would pair wonderfully with any summer grilling or stand alone well as a vegan entree.

There's not much to be said about key lime pie except: could there be a more delicious or perfect finish to any summer meal? I think not.


 Recipes

 Charred Corn and Watermelon Salad 

2 ears of corn 

2 cups watermelon, cut into 1 inch dice 

1 cup red grape tomatoes, halved 

1 cup yellow teardrop tomatoes, halved 

1 avocado, cut into 1 inch dice

1/2 red onion, thinly sliced 

10 leaves fresh basil, thinly sliced

5 sprigs mint , chopped finely

Vinaigrette- 

juice from one lime 

1/4 tsp mustard 

1 tbs red wine vinegar  

1 tsp salt 

2 tbs olive oil 

1 tbs freshly chopped chives 

 

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the corn and cook for 5 minutes. Drain. Using tongs, char the corn over an open flame from a gas stove or grill until charred. Cut the kernels off of the cob.

2. Combine all ingredients for the vinaigrette except for the chives. Whisk until emulsified. Stir in the chives.

3. Combine all ingredients for the salad, pour over the vinaigrette, and mix until incorporated. Serve immediately.

Note- If making ahead of time, combine all except vinaigrette, avocado, and fresh herbs which should be added at the last minute.  

 

Lobster Rolls 

4 live lobsters

1/2 cup mayonnaise 

juice from 1 lemon 

3 sprigs tarragon, finely chopped 

1 tbs freshly chopped chives 

1 stalk celery, chopped very finely 

4 New England Style or regular hot dog buns 

2 tbs butter 

 

1. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Add the lobsters and cover immediately. Cook for 5 minutes or until bright red. Drain and cool. When the lobsters are cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the tail and claws and discard the shells. Place in the refrigerator to cool.

2. Prepare the dressing. Combine mayonnaise and lemon juice. Stir in celery, chives, and tarragon.

3. Once the lobster meat has cooled completely, cut into a small dice and add to the dressing. 

4. Using 1/2 tbs butter per hot dog bun, toast the buns until nicely browned. Fill the buns with the lobster and serve immediately with lemon on the side.

Note- The lobsters can be cooked and cooled 1 day ahead. Combine with the mayo just before serving.  

 

Key Lime Pie (adapted from Martha Stewart)

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs

6 tbs unsalted butter, melted and cooled

1  can (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk 

4 large egg yolks 

1/2 cup of freshly squeezed lime or key lime juice 

1 tbs lime zest 

1 cup heavy cream, chilled 

1 tbs sugar 

1. Heat oven to 375  degrees. Combine graham-cracker crumbs, and butter; mix well. Press into a 9-inch pie plate, and bake until lightly browned, about 12 minutes. Remove from oven, and transfer to a wire rack until completely cooled.

2. Lower oven to 325  degrees. In a medium bowl, gently whisk together condensed milk, egg yolks, Key lime juice, and zest. Pour into the prepared, cooled crust.

3. Return pie to oven, and bake until the center is set but still quivers when the pan is nudged, 15 to 17 minutes. Let cool completely on a wire rack.

4. Shortly before serving, combine cream and 1 tablespoon sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment. Whisk on medium speed until soft peaks form, 2 to 3 minutes. Spoon over cooled pie; garnish with zest. Serve immediately.