At its best, summer cooking should be light yet satisfying, keep the heat to a minimum, and include lots of shortcuts. Realistically, we want to eat well without spending too much time in the kitchen!
All-in-one skillet dinners that deliver a complete meal while limiting the cleanup are something I appreciate any time of year. Many of the one-pan meals I make in the colder months include heartier elements like ground beef, rice, and beans, but the following option focuses on light, flaky fish and an assortment of field-fresh produce.
This is a delightful dinner when fresh corn is in season, but the ease of this meal makes frozen corn a worthy stand-in over the colder months. Sometimes, I use leftover corn on the cob, sliced from the cob, and give it a quick sauté along with the green onions.
Speaking of corn on the cob, do you have a preferred way to butter it? We recently had some friends over for dinner and everyone enjoyed our family’s favorite trick. The method seems sort of silly, but it’s rather effective. I mentioned it several years ago in this space, but I thought it worth repeating.
Simply cut regular sandwich bread into squares big enough to hold a pat of butter. Then slice the butter into pats and place them on the bread. Arrange the butter-topped bread on a plate and pass at the table. The bread grips the butter and makes easy work of this sometimes-tricky task. No slippery butter squirming off the corn, no mess, and no waiting for the single stick of butter to be passed. It’s kid-friendly but always a hit with the adults as well. And the leftover squares of bread taste pretty good, too!
Yields 4 servings.
- 2 slices bacon, chopped
- 4 flounder fillets (between 4-6 ounces each; may substitute tilapia or other mild, flaky fish of choice)
- 1/4 teaspoon each kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 2 1/2 cups fresh corn (about 4 ears; frozen and thawed may be substituted)
- 3 sliced green onions, white and green parts
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
- Optional for serving: 4 lime wedges, chopped fresh basil or chives, salt and pepper to taste
Heat a large skillet over medium heat and cook the bacon until crisp. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate.
Sprinkle the fish with the salt and pepper. Over medium-high heat, sauté the fish fillets in the bacon drippings until just barely cooked through the center. Depending on the thickness of the fish, this will likely take 3-4 minutes for the first side and 1-2 minutes more on the second side. Remove the fish to a plate and keep warm. (The fish will continue to cook a little bit when removed from the heat.)
Add the corn and the green onions to the skillet * and sauté over medium to medium-high heat for 3 minutes or until beginning to brown, stirring occasionally. Add the butter and cook long enough for the butter to melt and be stirred into the corn mixture, about a minute. Stir in the tomatoes. **
Serve each fish fillet over one-fourth of the corn mixture, and top with one-fourth of the reserved bacon. Sprinkle with fresh basil or chives, a bit of salt and pepper, and top with a lime wedge, if desired.
- *If the pan seems dry prior to sautéing the corn, you may wish to coat with a couple teaspoons of olive oil. Depending on the type of skillet used, this may or may not be needed.
- **When tomatoes are in season and really good, I typically add them to the skillet after the corn is cooked, as stated in the recipe. If you prefer cooked tomatoes, you may sauté them for a few minutes along with the corn. Also, out-of-season grape and cherry tomatoes will be slightly less flavorful than their summertime counterparts but are often pretty good fresh produce options. Cooking just long enough to break them down slightly tends to enhance the flavor.
Leftover corn on the cob may absolutely be used in this recipe. Below is my favorite trick for buttering the corn. It’s mess-free and speedy…and the leftover bread tastes pretty good, too!