Three things signal the height of summer produce like nothing else: sweet corn, tomatoes and peaches. Three of my very favorite things. That they all show up about the same time around here is an opportunity for rejoicing. This is when the summer BBQ season really peaks, when pie crusts get rolling and a regular dinner around here is nothing more than 2 or 3 ears of corn with butter, salt and pepper. I eat an ungodly amount of corn in these few short weeks.
Last weekend on my way to a summer BBQ with little time to spare, I made a quick summer salad with two of these seasonal favorites: corn and tomatoes. Don’t let the simplicity of the recipe fool you; when produce is this good, you don’t need to do much to it. A little olive oil, vinegar and sweet fresh basil is all it takes.
I like a little char on the corn as it adds a nice counterpoint to the sweet tomatoes but you don’t have to do that. Sometimes, if the corn is really fresh and sweet, I leave it raw. Whoa! I know, crazy (more like lazy.) If you have a grill, by all means use it though sometimes I don’t like to go to all that trouble and will stir fry the kernels in my wok to get some nice color. I also like to add basil, mainly because it is overtaking my garden right now and tomatoes + basil are an unparalled match, but fresh parsley, tarragon, chives, dill or a mix of all of them would be good. Hey, there are no hard and fast rules here. Use what you have, what you like, what tastes good. And you know what else tastes good? That cripsy prosciutto I’ve been putting on everything lately. Crumple some of that one top for something really special.
Also, cutting cherry tomatoes in half can be a pain in the butt so I’ve got a nifty little trick for you. Take two lids of the same size from deli or plastic storage containers. Turn so the lip sides (in most cases, the top) are facing each other. Pack tomatoes comfortably onto one lid, place the other lid on top, pressing down very gently to compress slightly. Carefully slide a serrated knife between the two lids, sawing gently back and forth to cut through the tomatoes. Remove the top lid and voila! Cut tomatoes in one swoop.
STRESS THERAPY BAKING FACTOR: CROWD PLEASER. It’s summer’s best by the spoonful. Corn, tomatoes, basil? Really now. What could be better? It perfectly captures the best of these few fleeting weeks so make it by the gallon and cart it everywhere you go. Enjoy it while you can. Also, the deli lid/tomato trick will impress the hell out of everyone. You’ll really look like you know what you’re doing so save that part until your guests arrive, especially that know-it-all friend who feels the need to comment on every single thing you make. Sometimes you need to shut those folks up to get a few moments of peace. Let them ponder your awesomeness instead.
Six years ago: Fresh Tomato Pasta
Five years ago: The Trials and Tribulations of a New Gardener
Four years ago: Raspberry Crème Croustilant
Three years ago: Breaking Bread with Emmanuel Hadjiandreou
Two years ago: Cherry Tomato Pasta Sauce
Just last year: Finally! A post that isn’t Guinness Crème Anglaise! Welcome Back
SUMMER CORN & TOMATO SALAD
3 ears of fresh sweet corn
¼ red onion, diced
2 pints cherry tomatoes, halved
2 Tablespoons fresh basil and/or parsley, chopped
2 Tablespoons good quality olive oil
1 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/8 teapsoon ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
pinch of ground cayenne
- Cut the kernels from the cob; you should have around 3 cups. If you have a grill, by all means, grill the corn on the cob then cut the kernels once cool.
- Heat a heavy duty skillet or a large work over high heat with a Tablespoon of vegetable oil until smoking.
- Add the corn and sauté/stir fry until slightly charred. Take care as the corn has a tendency to pop and spatter, which is why I prefer the larger surface area of a wok. Cover if you like to contain the escaping rebels.
- Transfer the corn to a bowl and allow to cool.
- With a serrated knife, slice the tomatoes in half. If you are a precise, slightly OCD person, you can do this one by one or use the deli lid trick I talk about above.
- Add the tomatoes to the bowl along with the diced onion, chopped basil (or other herbs), olive oil, vinegar, salt, pepper and a good pinch of ground cayenne.
- Mix gently to combine, taste and adjust seasonings if needed.
- Serve as is, room temperature or slightly chilled, or alongside some grilled meats as part of a larger BBQ spread.