Jun 30, 2008

Fresh Corn Salad with Tomatoes and Basil

This is another fast, easy, taste-of-summer kind of salad. And best of all, it requires no cooking. We've been making it for years in all kinds of variations and it's always good. It's a great side with grilled foods or you can make it dinner by adding some grilled chicken chunks right into the salad.

I have to confess, I started making this salad because it was so easy and blessedly, in this Texas summer heat, required no cooking whatsoever. But now I've grown to prefer the corn raw in its sweet, cool, crunchy natural form. You could certainly make it with roasted, grilled or steamed corn too.

The original recipe calls for arugula. We eat a lot of arugula so I've taken to making it this way without the greens, but do as you like. I sometimes top it with arugula sprouts instead. It's great with any kind of cherry tomatoes, but we like to use our Sun Golds fresh out of the garden as well as some little red cherry tomatoes. The color variation is nice.

The champagne vinegar may be an exotic ingredient to some. It's worth seeking out. It's not expensive and adds a much lighter, softer acid balance that's really nice with the sweetness of the corn. Once you have it, you'll find yourself wanting to use it in all kinds of dressings.

Fresh Corn Salad with Cherry Tomatoes and Basil

1/4 cup champagne vinegar
1 medium-sized shallot, minced
salt and pepper
1/2 cup olive oil
6-8 large ears fresh corn, shucked
4 handfuls of baby arugula (or one handful arugula sprouts), optional
3 pints cherry tomatoes, halved
1 bunch basil

Make the dressing: combine the vinegar, shallots and a generous sprinkling of salt and pepper. Whisk together. Add olive oil and whisk again. Set aside.

Cut the kernels from the corn. Place end of corn cob in a deep bowl and shave the kernels off with a very sharp knife. The deep bowl should catch the flyaway kernels.

Add the tomatoes and arugula (if using) to the corn kernels. Toss together to combine. Whisk the dressing again and then sprinkle over the top of the salad. Toss again. Taste and add more salt and pepper if necessary.

Stack the basil leaves in piles of 5-8 leaves. Roll them up lengthwise and cut them into ribbons with a knife or kitchen shears. Toss into salad.

To fancy it up, sprinkle the top with arugula sprouts or organic nasturtiums.

Serves 6-8

Adapted from Food & Wine.

Want some more ideas for corn salads?
Here's an Italian variation from Michael Chiarello using a citrus vinaigrette and pecorino.

Here's a delicious looking one from Elise using grilled corn.

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