At the height of July, when shoes are optional and markets are bountiful, it's fun to kick off some well-worn customs in the kitchen and find new roles for beloved summer ingredients (tomatoes, corn, watermelon) or even whole dishes (baked beans, fried chicken). The recipes here take the stars of warm-weather meals and twist them subtly, cleverly, so the effect of each dish remains all-American classic, even while offering fresh tastes and textures.
"I wanted to take the flavors of the summer and reimagine them as new, exciting versions of themselves," says Martha Stewart Living food editor Christine Albano. "But I also wanted to keep them easy, casual, and still memorable." The result: original dishes that somehow feel like familiar favorites. They will serve you well through the remainder of this season and many more to come.
Corn and blueberries are familiar summer favorites, yet rarely are they seen together. In this dessert, they prove a delicious pair. Fresh sweet corn is surprisingly at home in the simple ice cream, thanks to its natural sugars. And scooped onto a biscuit, it goes perfectly with a tart blueberry compote.
As sweet and delicious as summer's cherry tomatoes are raw, they become even more so when baked in this easy, cobbler-style dish. Caramelized onion, garlic, and hot pepper reinforce the dish's savory side. A Gruyere drop-biscuit dough, spooned on top before the ensemble bakes, makes the cobbler work as a hearty side or a rustic main course.
South meets North in this sandwich of pulled pork shoulder and baked beans. No longer separate dishes, the two cook together in one pot until the beans are syrupy and tender and the meat is falling off the bone. Quick-pickled red onion and jalapeno slices, vinegar-tart and hot, parry the richness and sweetness of the combo, which is spooned onto a soft potato bun and topped with ribbons of crisp shredded cabbage.
Cross Southern fried chicken with an Italian-style chicken Milanese, and you get this refined spin-off: crunchy pieces of batter-fried breast meat served on a salad of basil and bitter greens (we used puntarelle, but dandelion, arugula, radicchio, and chicory are all good alternatives). A simple lemon dressing seasoned with garlic and anchovy fillets goes on top.
This pizza reminds us just how great peaches can be in savory dishes. After a turn on the grill, the fruit becomes a smoky-sweet counterpoint to salty cured ham, mozzarella, and aromatic basil leaves, all arranged on a homemade pizza crust that has been nicely charred and blistered on the hot grates.
The flavorful topping on this pizza -- briny littleneck clams with slab bacon, fresh parsley, onion, garlic, white wine, and cream -- is almost like a cooked-down New England clam chowder, concentrated and delicious. Red-pepper flakes add some flash.
These simple, striking parfaits are the kind of dessert that wows guests but requires barely more effort than cutting fruit. Ripe watermelon cubes and coconut sorbet taste delicious (and look gorgeous) together, needing only pinches of lime zest for a tropical inflection and toasted coconut for crunch.