Sweet Summer Corn!

Yewande Komolafe’s corn and shrimp beignets are a perfect start to a party — or a festive summer dinner.

By Genevieve Ko

Hello, fellow home cooks. I’m filling in for Emily again this week and thinking about — and loving — the casual weeknight dinners of high summer. In my home, we often eat with our hands and pack up meals to enjoy the sunset at the beach or in the park. My kids’ friends drop in, and we squeeze around the table, pulling up stools from the kitchen counter when we run out of chairs.

Sometimes, I just feed people straight from the stove. Or, rather, people come to the stove when they smell Yewande Komolafe’s corn and shrimp beignets frying. Sweet corn kernels sliced off the cob punctuate every bite, fat with plump shrimp. They’re great as party appetizers, of course, but also make a fun meal.

So do sandwiches. I’m not sure why lunch-for-dinner isn’t a thing, but it should be. When the sun is still shining in the evening, it feels right to have a messy sandwich with a few handfuls of chips and an icy drink.

1. Corn and Shrimp Beignets

When you bite into one of these savory fritters — probably before you even get to the table — you go from thin, crackly shell to an airy yet creamy center. To keep these savory fritters light, Yewande stirs bubbly seltzer into the one-bowl batter. It’s dinner with a green salad or the start to a great party.

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2. Frijoles de la Olla

Frijoles de la olla are beans cooked in a pot, and Jocelyn Ramirez has given us the formula for preparing dried pintos in an Instant Pot so they don’t steam up the kitchen on hot days. They cook faster in a pressure cooker, too. They still take over an hour, but you don’t have to do anything but wait. Deeply flavored with chiles, garlic and dried mushrooms, the brothy beans are comforting, especially with a side of warm tortillas. Any leftovers can be transformed into the tastiest chili.

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3. Linguine and Clams With Fresh Red Sauce

Kay Chun has made weeknight clams a reality — with canned whole ones! She calls them a pantry hero and uses the briny juices they’re packed in for a sauce of garlicky burst cherry tomatoes. The delicate clams get tossed in at the end so they stay tender.

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4. Slow-Cooker Hot-Honey Chicken Sandwiches

Slow cookers sometimes make meat taste watery, but Sarah DiGregorio solves that problem in this recipe by not adding any liquid to the machine. The spice-coated chicken releases enough natural juices to cook to tenderness before getting slicked with hot honey. Even if this dish cooks indoors, it’s great for an outdoor picnic dinner.

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5. Chickpea Salad Sandwiches

In another stroke of pantry genius from Kay Chun, canned chickpeas are smashed with garlic, tahini and lemon juice, then mixed with crisp celery, scallions and savory Parmesan for a salad that keeps in the fridge for days. It’s great sandwiched for dinner on the beach and just as delicious over greens or grains or both.

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