We’d like to take a moment to remember Portland food icon, chef and teacher Robert Reynolds who passed away earlier this week at 70 after a battle with brain cancer. He was a passionate advocate for local produce and the Portland food community, and we will remember him for his simple seasonal cooking demos at the market, his witty and to-the-point tips of the week and his devoted mentoring of many young chefs at his Chef Studio. We will miss him. See below for his recipe for Summer Vegetable Medley from a 2011 cooking demo.
Summer Vegetable Medley w/ Seared Albacore Tuna
by Robert Reynolds
In the time it takes to boil water, you can prep three vegetables, corn, zucchini, and tomatoes. They require less than 5 minutes cooking. Sear a steak or fish a minute and a half on each side twice, that’s another 6 minutes, and you have dinner. Before, during, or after, open a nice red wine and relish the pleasure of putting perfect summer food on the table.
While you put a 2-quart pan of water on to boil, shuck to remove the kernels from two ears of corn. Do it over a bowl to capture them and minimize cleanup. Grate two zucchini through the large holes of a box grater, over a separate bowl lined with a strainer. Sprinkle them with salt lightly enough to draw water, and not so heavy with salt that they would need rinsing (if they do it’s not a big deal).
By the time the water comes to a boil, drop in two vine ripened tomatoes, wait 30 seconds, then remove one with a slotted spoon. Test the doneness by rubbing one with your finger to verify that the skin is loose enough to remove. Run them under cold water to stop the cooking.
Next, season the water with salt and add the corn. While that comes back to a boil, peel, seed and dice the tomatoes. Test the doneness of the corn, remove it into a strainer and run it under cold water. Set the strainer back into the bowl to drain.
Assemble the dish by adding the drained zucchini to the corn. Season with salt and pepper, then add minced garlic, and chopped parsley and oregano. Arrange in a serving bowl. Next to the mix, arrange the tomatoes. Season again, and finish with basil. Dress everything with a drizzle of olive oil finished with a squeeze of lemon.
Set the dish aside and cook the tuna. Rub with oil, sear a minute on each side on high heat, turn the heat off, cover the pan loosely and let it finish to desired doneness. Serve with coarse sea salt and fresh ground pepper.
Place the tuna on a plate, finish with a grinding of pepper, and garnish with the vegetables. The entire preparation takes about 15 minutes. Drink a nice southern Rhone wine to complement the food and enjoy the summer night.
The tuna can be substituted for with New York steak, chicken breast, filet of salmon, etc.
New York steak: While heating the skillet good and hot, rub the meat with olive oil. No salt, no pepper at this point. Put the meat into the skillet and let it sit for a minute and a half on high heat. Turn the meat over, and season it uniformly, and continue to sear the other side for a minute and a half. Repeat the searing on both sides a second time, seasoning after each turn. By the time this is done, a nice flavor crust has developed. Turn the heat off.
If you eat the meat without resting, it is cooked blue. Let it sit for a minute in the skillet, the doneness is rare. Allow it rest for two minutes, the doneness is medium.
Chicken breast: poached gently in water for about ten minutes until the last trace of pink has gone. Strain the poaching water and use it on another occasion to flavor a soup.
Filet of salmon: skin on, rub with olive oil, set in a very hot pan and sear for a minute, turn the heat off, cover the pan and let the fish finish cooking. Serve with coarse sea salt and fresh ground pepper.