On a recent Saturday, after a leisurely afternoon plodding around Prospect Park, two friends and I strolled toward a Japanese restaurant without a reservation, one of the more daring things a New Yorker can do these days.
Auspiciously, we were seated right away, and we ordered a round of beers and some edamame. Overcome by the sort of silliness a spontaneous summer day affords you, our table soon descended into an all-consuming giggle pit. Between fits of laughter and played-out bits, we came up for air only to snack on the warm pods, which arrived unexpectedly blistered by a grill, rather than blanched or steamed.
The pleasantly smoky exteriors yielded to beans that had retained some of those fire-kissed flavors. We knocked them back quickly, leaving behind a single pod as a token of that persistent yet unspoken friendship bylaw that no one dare eat the last anything, lest you appear greedy.
There’s a certain bliss to blistered vegetables. Cooking them hot, fast and undisturbed until the outsides crackle and burnish, but the insides retain much of their fresh snappiness, is an inspired way to prepare snackable produce like edamame and shishito peppers.
But don’t stop at party platters. Other crisp green vegetables are primed for blistering, especially when the goal is to add depth of flavor to simple weeknight meals. Colu Henry blisters green beans, and tomatoes, in a hot cast-iron skillet for a supremely seasonal salad that’s tossed in a dressing of harissa, honey and lime juice and garnished with mint.
Yewande Komolafe blisters snap peas for her vegan one-pan crispy tofu with cashews, a beloved recipe with more than 8,000 ratings. “I made the original version of this dish once,” one New York Times Cooking reader commented, “but I have since made the blistered snap peas as a side dish many times. They may as well be two different recipes! The snap peas are a fresh, delicious go-to.”
And blistered broccoli adds loads of texture to this 15-minute pasta from Dawn Perry, in which the singed florets mingle among walnuts, pecorino, lemon zest and mint. “The trick to creating deeply browned, pan-seared broccoli involves two things,” Dawn writes, “high heat and no touching.”
One More Thing!
I don’t have the fortitude — or the central air-conditioning — to turn on my oven from June through August. But these last few days in New York have all of the markers of false fall, and my baking senses are tingling. Will this cooler weather hold? Will I be able to make a summer cobbler with summer fruit before summer’s end?
Here’s to hoping. I want to scale down Jerelle Guy’s blackberry corn cobbler from eight servings to four so that I can eat it, alone, over the course of a couple of days. And even simpler is the Chez Panisse blueberry cobbler, which calls for little more than six ingredients (not including salt) and an hour of my time.
Happy false fall to all observing, and see you next week!