While on the subject of seasonal August eating, I will shift my focus to my absolute favorite two things in the whole wide world: corn and tomatoes. It’s probably because they come of age at just the same time- tomatoes reach their sweetest and juiciest potential while corn hits that super sugary, crunchy and thick stage, characteristics that don’t go together any other time of year. Good tomatoes need nothing more than a light sprinkle of flaky salt, which good fresh corn needs nothing more than a quick 2 minute boil- no butter or salt necessary.
If you’re in the mood for something a little more creative though, you can’t go wrong with combining the best corn (shucked) and tomatoes you can find in a big bowl along with a generous amount of cubed avocado, chopped fresh basil and a squirt of lime. It sounds simple, but after toying with it for many Augusts, I’ve found simplest is best. Here’s the basic recipe, but it’s more of a throw things into a bowl kind of thing and can easily be doubled. Of course, you are welcome to change things up a bit, and I’ve included some ideas for additions and substitutions below. These ratios will serve 1-2.
Fresh Corn and Tomato-Basil Salad
- 3 ears of the freshest corn possible, unhusked
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 1 medium or 2 small tomatoes, chopped or a couple handfuls of cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered depending on size
- 1 avocado, cut in half, pitted and cubed
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
- Juice of 1/2 a lime
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, remove the husks from the corn (saving the silk for tea) and boil for exactly 2 minutes. Allow to sit until cool enough to handle (5-10 minutes) and then, over a large bowl, remove the kernels in length-wise strips with a sharp knife. Nibble on what you left behind on the ear.
While the corn is still slightly warm, add the crushed garlic and tomatoes. Add the avocado, lime juice and basil and stir until blended.
This will last several hours at room temperature; try to avoid refrigerating it, as it will loose sweetness and the crunchy, creamy and juicy contrasting textures won’t survive through a thorough chilling.
Of course you’re welcome to change it up:
- I actually prefer the taste of boiled corn, but if you’re a grilled corn fan, by all means, grill it. One year I husked the corn, slathered it in garlic butter, grilled it and then shucked the kernels for the salad. I wouldn’t say that it’s better, but it’s more smoky and buttery. If you do that, I’d skip the avocado and serve it warm.
- Add chopped red onion, scallions or chives if the garlic isn’t enough for you.
- Replace the basil with fresh cilantro and add a sliced orange, yogurt and a pinch of ground chipotle or a chili powder blend. A lime-marinated mahi mahi filet is nice here too, as is a bed of ice burg lettuce…
- Replace the lime juice with rice vinegar and add a couple of hard boiled eggs, roasted red pepper and a grilled onion.
- Mix in some homemade mayonnaise and a handful of chopped cooked lobster or crab.
- The addition of bacon to any of the above variations wouldn’t be a bad thing.