Aloha, I’ve missed you. Yes, you.

I am taking a risk here by blogging in broad daylight; I am pretty sure this has never happened before. I am normally cloaked by darkness as I type. It’s like that protected feeling you get when you sneak food in the middle of the night – maybe since the lights are out, no one will notice that seventeen Oreos went missing from the package. Come on, I know you’ve done that before. Anyway, that’s how I feel about writing in the dark. Maybe since it’s dark no one will notice all my typos, or they will at least forgive me for them since it’s late and “she must be tired.” Not today! I am stepping out of my shell and blogging before dinner – a dinner that has been ready for hours, tucked away in the fridge ready to be served when Daniel comes home from work.

Speaking of work, I was supposed to train someone this morning but my morning client showed up with 3-inch open toed sandal wedges ready to work out. Out of the goodness of my heart, I gave her the benefit of the doubt. I’m sure she just really wanted hers calves to get an extra workout… For safety reasons, I had to reschedule her; heels aren’t exactly kosher in the gym. Speaking of kosher…

I love me some Kosher salt; I much prefer it over table salt due to it’s cleaner flavor and coarser texture. As long as I’m not baking (a time when table salt is better) then I always use Kosher salt in place of table salt. Table salt, the super fine granules, contain additives – namely iodine – which makes it taste more metallic. Kosher salt does not contain any additives so it tastes a bit more natural. The only thing you have to be concerned with when cooking is the proper substitution amounts. Different brands of Kosher salt lend themselves to different sized granules, but in general, Kosher salt takes up about double the surface area as table salt. Therefore, for recipes calling for 1 Tablespoon of table salt you could theoretically add 2 Tablespoons of Kosher salt. Psychologically, that just looks like too much salt to me, so I normally go about 1.5x the prescribed table salt amount.

Facts about Kosher salt:
Kosher salt is often the preferred salt for cooking meats because it binds better and helps create that nice steak or burger crust. Kosher salt is also used for curing meats (drawing out the blood)… i.e. making them, you guessed it, KOSHER.

The texture of salt got me thinking about my philosophy on the texture of food in general: dining is as much about texture as it is about flavor and appearance. A perfect dish to me is one with vibrant colors, a variety of textures, and pronounced yet balanced flavors. So, as to demonstrate this perfect trifecta….may I present to you a zucchini, tomato, and corn salad with basil vinaigrette and feta cheese.

color, flavor, texture trifecta

color, flavor, texture trifecta

Yes, after I took that picture, I devoured the spoon.

Salad Ingredients:
4 ears of fresh corn, husked
6 medium roma tomatoes, cored and seeded
1 large zucchini squash, chunked?
1/4 cup fat free feta cheese

*1/2 cup slivered red onions would be a fantastic addition to this recipe, however my husband can’t stand raw onions of any kind. You know what I can’t stand? The fact that I have to omit them from recipes. Humph.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and boil corn 3-4 minutes until kernels are tender. While corn is cooking, core, seed and chop the tomatoes into 1/4 to 1/2 inch pieces. Cut the zucchini into quarters lengthwise, then chop into 1/2 inch pieces. Remove corn from boiling water and place in pot of ice water to stop the cooking and cool the cobs. Once cooled, dry the cobs and cut off the kernels. Saute zucchini in a dab of EVOO for a couple of minutes in a large oven-proof pan. This part is optional. You could skip this step and toss the salad with raw zuchinni for some extra crunch. When tender, add corn to the pan and place in the oven on High Broil for about seven minutes or until the corn and zucchini start to brown.

You will want the corn and zucchini to cool completely before adding tomatoes and basil dressing. I popped mine in the freezer for 25 minutes or so. Works like a charm!

Basil Vinaigrette:
3/4 cup fresh basil leaves
1 1/2 Tbsp champagne mimosa vinegar*
1 1/2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
small pinch Kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper

Using a food processor or hand emulsion blender, puree oil, vinegar, basil, salt and pepper until desired consistency. Mine was almost smooth. Toss the tomatoes, corn, and zucchini in the dressing and garnish with a generous helping of fat-free feta cheese. Serve chilled.

*I know that most people don’t have this particular delicious champagne mimosa vinegar on-hand. You could definitely subsitute regular champagne vinegar,  white wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, or even balsamic vinegar instead. Just remember that champagne vinegar is lighter than most other vinegars so if you go with another type cut the amount by half a tablespoon or so, then add more if needed. Olivia Olive Oil in Nashville, TN makes a smorgasbord of oils and vinegars that are definitely worth ordering!

And there you have it. Crunchy corn kernels, sweet tomatoes, softened zucchini, tangy feta, and a basil punch. Texture, color, and flavor…

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