Now that summer is in full swing, so are our farmers markets, which are brimming with colorful produce at the peak of their ripeness. While everyone has their favorite summer bounty, corn and tomatoes are usually near the top of the list. At least that’s true for me.

So when the time approaches for that produce to make its appearance locally, my thoughts turn to the many ways I will utilize it over the season. Yes, corn and tomatoes can pretty much stand alone on a plate with little more than a sprinkling of salt, but I’m still always looking for more creative dishes to showcase how great they are.

I don’t have to work too hard as they are two of the most versatile vegetables in the garden. They pair well with any number of other ingredients and can easily be either a side dish or a main dish.

This week, I partnered them with a simple pan-fried chicken breast, bacon and basil for a quick and easy one-skillet meal, but if you take the basic recipe for the corn sauté and make a few tweaks, you can transform it into any number of other dishes that give you a fresh look at these two star veggies almost every night of the week. Here are just a few ideas.

Black Bean and Corn Salsa: Lose the chicken, bacon and basil, sauté the corn in vegetable oil or even grill the corn, cut off the kernels and skip the sautéing step. Then add chopped cilantro and jalapeño, and substitute lime juice for the lemon juice. You will have a salad/salsa that you can use inside tacos or burritos, in a taco salad, or as a side dish for grilled meats.

Mexican Corn Salad: If you’ve ever had the traditional grilled Mexican corn, smeared with mayonnaise and sprinkled with cotija cheese, cayenne pepper and lime juice, you are familiar with its addictive qualities. Those qualities translate beautifully to a salad, too. Grill the corn, skip the chicken, bacon (or don’t) and basil, and add a dollop of mayonnaise, a handful of cilantro, a touch of cayenne, lime juice, salt and pepper. This is one you’ll turn to all summer long.

Corn and Tomato Pasta: Make the recipe as directed, enjoy it the first night and use the leftovers to make a completely different dinner later in the week. Just cube the cooked chicken and add it to a skillet warmed with a couple teaspoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the leftover corn sauté to it and cook until heated. Add ½ cup of heavy cream and ¼ cup of grated Parmesan along with 8 ounces of your favorite pasta, cooked to al dente. Cook the mixture for another 2 or 3 minutes, or until heated through.

 

Meredith Deeds is a cookbook author and food writer from Edina. Reach her at meredith@meredithdeeds.com. Follow her on Twitter ­at

@meredithdeeds.