If there’s one simple, scrumptious salad that screams “summer”…that people will beg you to bring to BBQs and picnics…that you will never tire of, it’s this Corn & Tomato Salad. The recipe is inspired by a dish at Alforno, one of our favorite restaurants in Providence, Rhode Island.
It’s the goodness of summer on a plate: sweet, crunchy kernels of fresh local corn; juicy sun-ripened tomatoes; crispy-chewy bread with a slight char; a sharp burst of pungent red onion; and a hint of delicate floral basil. We eagerly await that July day when the first early field tomatoes show up in a basket at our favorite farm stand, and the piles of corn beckon. From then until late-September, this salad is a regular staple on our table, alongside whatever we’re grilling for dinner, and then one or two lucky lunch-eaters get to devour the leftovers the next day.
My kids start asking for Corn & Tomato Salad once the sun gets warmer and the days start getting longer, and my brother-in-law will actually travel 150 miles (by bike!) for this summer treat. But the key to its deliciousness is patience: you’ve got to wait for the dog days of summer, when the livin’ is easy, the local tomatoes are bursting with divine flavor and the corn is sweet and plentiful. Once you’re there though, savor this seasonal salad as often as you can, because when local tomatoes disappear, it’s a long winter ahead and this yummy side dish will be just a fond memory!
What’s your favorite summer salad? Please feel free to share in the comments!
Corn & Tomato Salad
Adapted from Cucina Simpatica (©1991 Johanne Killeen & George Germon)
- 6 ears fresh sweet corn, husked
- 1 small red onion, peeled and cut in half vertically (through the root ends)
- 6 1″-thick slices sourdough or Tuscan bread
- 1 large garlic clove, peeled
- 8 medium summer tomatoes
- 7 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 10 basil leaves
- Drop the corn into a pot of boiling water. Cook for 4 minutes, refresh the corn under cold running water, and drain. With a sharp knife, cut the kernels from the cobs and place in a bowl.
- Face the onion half cut-side up and remove the root by notching out a V along the center of the onion, removing any solid, flat pieces. Flip the onion over, cut-side down, with the root and tip ends at 12:00 and 6:00. You will see vertical “stripes” running along the onion skin. Cut very thin vertical slivers and toss the onion with the corn. (If you like a lot of onion, cut both halves; if not, use just one half.)
- Toast both sides of the bread on a grill or under the broiler and rub them with the garlic clove. Drizzle the bread with 2 tablespoons of the oil, cut each piece into 1″-square croutons, and set aside.
- Core the tomatoes, cut them into 6 vertical wedges, and cut each wedge in half horizontally. Add the tomato chunks to the bowl, along with the remaining oil, vinegar and salt. Toss to combine.
- Stack up the basil leaves and roll them into a tight bundle. Cut the bundle into thin shreds or “chiffonade.” Add the basil to the salad, along with the croutons. Toss to combine and serve.