Summer is a simple cooks dream. Just by buying beautiful in-season produce, you can make incredible food for minimal effort since the soil, seeds and farmers have done all the work for you already!
Some of my favorite things to cook are salads since a great salad can be a full meal or just the bright side dish to something else. I think after too many wilted pre-bagged greens, salads are often ill considered and become the afterthought of a meal. For me, there are endless combinations, lots of ways to use up leftovers and the chance to play with flavors and textures.
Last weekend I made a simple corn and tomato salad, with things I had picked up at my produce market that week. It was deeply satisfying and full of summer flavors. I tend to improvise when cooking this sort of thing, browsing through the fridge with my own internal monologue (hmm.... tanginess would be good in here... do I have any yogurt?), and adjusting as needed. Salads are an artful balance of salt, fat and acid. Taste as you go and tweak to make it perfect!
Corn and Tomato Summer Salad
- 3 ears of corn, shucked
- Mix of tomatoes* (3 cups?)
- Small handful of cilantro
- 2 Tbsp. plain yogurt
- 1 lime
- 1 tsp. champagne vinegar (white wine, sherry or apple cider is ok)
- 1/4 avocado
- 1/4 c. or little less of olive oil
- salt to taste
- water as needed
Fire up your BBQ (gas or charcoal) and once hot, place your corn on the grill. Cook, rotating corn as needed until there are browned and blackened bits. You don't want to scorch it, but I like a lot of color on my corn for flavor. Grill the jalapeno as well, being careful not to overdo it!
Pull corn off the grill and cool. While corn is cooling, chop up tomatoes into bite sized pieces. I usually cut Early Girls into sixths, half cherry tomatoes, and get a chunky dice from heirlooms. Hold the corn up, with the flat end against the cutting board and cut the kernals off the cob. Try your best not to get theme everywhere! Cut the top off the jalapeno, remove the seeds, and mince the flesh. Add the corn, tomatoes and jalapenos to a large salad bowl.
In a blender or with an immersion blender, make the dressing. Add everything except the olive oil to your blender and blend until smooth. Slowly add the olive oil until you have a rich green dressing. Taste. What does it need? Brightness? Add more vinegar or lime juice. Be sure it has plenty of salt. Too tart? Add a little more olive oil. My dressing was thick so I added a couple tablespoons of water until it was the perfect consistency.
Dress the salad and taste again. Once it interacts with the sweet veggies, you may decide it needs more lime juice, salt or olive oil. After it tastes just right, garnish with cilantro leaves and serve! I also love that this salad makes for great leftovers!
* As a former tomato hawker, I have lots of thoughts on tomatoes! This time of year, my go-to is Dry Farmed Early Girls because of their intense and sweet flavor. Heirlooms are beautiful and interesting, but with a milder flavor. I often use them for color and interest, but will add Early Girls for flavor. Also great are the sweet cherry tomatoes (either sungolds or sweet 100s) that are out this time of year. I find plum tomatoes are often bland and love tomatoes in a salad to have a good burst of flavor!