Bountiful season

 Last week, it was an email that made my day. This week, it’s a letter. And with one glance at the return address, I knew it contained a recipe. Yippee!

The name on that envelope, you see, was that of a woman I know to be a good cook. Jan Hartman of Okabena is somewhat legendary for the spreads she puts together for an annual holiday open house. I did a story on her quite a few years back, so I anticipated that what she was sending me was a recipe.

“After that article, it was so fun — everywhere I went people asked me if I as still baking or if I brought them some cookies,” she commented in her missive.

But Jan’s submission this time around isn’t for a cookie or a bar. “I made this cherry tomato salad, and it was wonderful,” she continued. “I doubled it and used farmers market tomatoes — 1 pint red, 1 pint orange. I took it to a neighborhood party at the lake (four couples) and three of them called for the recipe. So I’m hoping your readers will enjoy. It’s definitely timely with all the tomatoes now.”

Yes, Jan — you are timely in more than ways than one. Your letter provided a use for some of the tomatoes sitting on my counter AND gave me fodder for this week’s blog. And readers, Jan sent a long a bonus salad recipe that would make use of any greens you might have left in your garden, or the fall crop when it comes around.

Cherry Tomato-Blue Cheese Salad

With a sharp knife, thinly slice 1 pound cherry tomatoes, stemmed, horizontally and arrange in a single layer in a glass or ceramic platter with a rim. Peel 2 large shallots and slice crosswise into thin rings. Separate the rings and sprinkle them over the tomatoes.

In a medium bowl, whisk together 3 tablespoons sherry vinegar, ½ teaspoon salt and black pepper to taste. Whisk in ½ cup olive oil. Pour the dressing over the shallots and tomatoes.

Garnish the salad with 2 to 3 ounces blue cheese crumbles and 2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley. Let stand at least 1 hour, or up to 2 hours, before serving.

Wilted Lettuce

Tear 6 cups leaf lettuce into a mixing bowl. Add 5 green onions, chopped, and 5 radishes, sliced. Dice 4 slices bacon; fry until crisp and drain. Add ¼ cup vinegar to the bacon grease and bring to a boil. Pour over lettuce mixture and serve immediately.

I recently received the latest addition of the Minnesota Grown “Pick of the Month” email newsletter, highlighting the best of the fresh produce of the season available in area farmers markets. If you’re looking for something more to do with sweet corn than just eat it off the cob, here’s one of the recipes shared therein.

Sweet Corn Casserole

Cut enough fresh sweet corn off the cob to yield 2 cups. Combine corn with 1 can cream-style corn, 1 package Jiffy corn bread mix, 1 cup sour cream, 2 well-beaten eggs and ½ cup vegetable oil.

Place mixture in casserole and bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes. Top with ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese and bake another 5 to 10 minutes.

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