The weather was beautiful on Saturday, and I had been at work all day, so I was very happy to come home to a glass of rosé and dinner on the grill. Jon had picked up some gorgeous sweet corn from Dunbar Gardens, and there was a ribeye from an upriver Angus farm, as well as some eggplant left over from the last farmer’s market, which I decided to make into another batch of caponata.
Jon rubbed the corn with oil and a dry spice mix before grilling (see his recipe below). I love corn done this way, with just a little char and plenty of salt and hot pepper. He had run out of New Mexico chile powder, so he substituted a little extra cayenne and some dried chile flakes. The corn had quite a kick.
For the caponata, I tried something a little different. First, I used Castelvetrano olives, an unpitted green olive with a meaty texture and wonderful nutty flavor. We happened to have a few left, and I didn’t want to waste them, so I got out the Oxo cherry/olive pitter from my IFBC goodie bag. Astonishingly, it worked like a charm! A very handy little gadget.
I chopped up the olives and tossed them with olive oil, red wine vinegar, capers, and chopped fresh tomatoes. The eggplant, which Jon dusted with more of his spice mix, was grilled and chopped up, then mixed with the other ingredients.
Finally, the secret ingredient: grilled garlic. I took a head of newly harvested garlic, cut the tips off the top of the cloves, then wrapped the whole thing in foil and set it on the grill. Once everything else was finished cooking, I unwrapped it and popped the garlic out of its skin into the caponata.
This turned out to be a really good idea. Some of the garlic dissolved into the caponata, and other cloves held their shape. It had that sweet caramelized flavor that well-roasted garlic has, without being in the least burnt. I tried fishing out a clove and smashing it onto the corn, which was also a good idea. With a bottle of Willis Hall Cabernet Franc, this dinner really made my weekend.
Southwest Spice Rub (for grilled corn or flank steak)
adapted from The Complete Meat Cookbook by Bruce Aidells and Denis Kelly
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp chile powder
2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
1 1/2 tsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp cayenne
Mix all ingredients together. Toss corn into a bag or bowl with some canola oil, then add spice mix to taste and rub it in. Grill as desired.