Labor Day is almost upon us, and it feels like the crossroads of the seasons; Summer just behind us, Fall just ahead. My favorite fruit stall at the Union Square Farmer’s Market is right on the thematic money, with peaches and nectarines on one side, apples on the other.
But before we dive wholeheartedly into a world of butternut squash, compotes, crumbles, pumpkins and mushrooms, there’s time for one last weekend of Summer with a capital S.
Pesto will be made and frozen. Ice cream will be consumed. Lobster rolls are on the menu for lunch. There will be Frisbee. There will be flip flops. And there will be grilling.
I love to grill. It runs in the family, I suppose. My Dad is a big BBQ-er, in spite of British weather that is often less than conducive to the activity. I have vivid memories from every age of my childhood of him huddling under an umbrella, tongs in hand, turning chicken or steaks or lamb.
And here’ s a genuine grilling tip: wipe the hot grill with an onion that you slice in half and hold with tongs to both clean and also season the grill.
If I had to pick one dish that sums up this summer for me, it would be corn salad with heirloom tomatoes.
Corn from the Farmers Market, quickly boiled, or roasted on the grill pan then shucked into a dish. Green, yellow and scarlet tomatoes chopped into chunks and added to the mix. Fresh basil and parsley from the pots of the balcony. Olive oil, salt, pepper and a spritz of lemon.
Maybe a handful of black olives. Perhaps a diced zuchinni or two. Arugula lurking in the fridge? Toss that in with the mix. Possibly diced shallot, or a handful of chives.
I’m almost embarrassed to admit how many of my dinners and lunches this summer centered on this simple salad.
For lunch, with a quickly sautéed onion and red pepper, piled into a flatbread and topped with some yogurt. Stuffed into a baked potato. Served alongside some roasted shrimp or leftover chicken. Stirred into cous cous or quinoa.
For dinner, accompanying some lemon marinated skirt steak, or salmon. Topping burgers and hot dogs straight off the grill. Scattered onto pizza dough with grated mozzarella or queso fresco. Stirred into orzo and topped with a handful of ricotta salata.
So as my last grilling hurrah, I’m making the corn salad with some herb marinated butterflied chicken
BBQ butterflied chicken with rosemary, lemon and garlic
You can also make this dish on a griddle pan or even in a roasting dish in the oven if you live in the kind of NY apartment where there’s no outdoor space.1 chicken – ask the butcher to butterfly it for you, or snip down both sides of the spine with kitchen scissors and squash flat
2 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary 2 tbsp fresh parsley 2 tbsp fresh mint or basil 4 tbsp olive oil 5 cloves garlic 1 large lemon Salt and pepper
- Grate the garlic into a bowl. Add the olive oil, the zest and juice of the lemon and the herbs. Season well – especially with salt and pour over the chicken. Leave to marinate for at least half an hour – preferably overnight in the fridge or for a couple of hours
- Fire up the grill. Once it’s properly hot, wipe with a cut onion, then cook the chicken skin side down for 10 mins. Turn the chicken over and place on a baking sheet on the grill. Cook for a further 15 minutes. Put directly on the grill for 5 more minutes. The chicken should be cooked through, and the juices should run clear
- Or, preheat the oven to 400f and bake the chicken for 40 minutes. Turn the chicken over and cook for another 20 minutes
- Carve the chicken into pieces – this is more chopping into chunks than carving into slicies) and serve with the cooking juices poured over (hence the tray on the grill), ideally with crusty bread to mop them up and a crisp green salad