There’s still time to lend an ear, grab an ear, shuck an ear, do what you must…to make this peak-of-the-season fresh corn salad that was on the menu at last week’s Summer Harvest Bounty feast. I have shared this recipe before and while it’s a no-recipe recipe, I’ve been ask to fill in some blanks.
Nothing is better than late summer tomatoes and corn. Local farmers here in west Michigan know that I am a bit of a fiend when it comes to sourcing products. I have been known to hit four different markets and source my meal from half a dozen farmers in any given week. So much for reducing the carbon footprint from eating local. Gotta have corn from Ham Family Farm. Arugula only from Grandson’s Garden. (Don’t miss the world’s best $2 pot scrubber from 9-year-old weaver Liam!) Bacon from Creswick Farms (THEY have zero carbon footprint). Organic salad mix with nasturtium blossoms from Summer Blend Gardens. And don’t get me started on Laughing Tree Bakery breads. For the love of all that’s sacred, Charlie and Hilde, make more Elbridge Parmesan Olive bread!! It gets a little competitive most Saturdays. With all that commitment to sourcing ingredients, who has time to follow a recipe? Truthfully I am a bit ambivalent about recipes. I think there is nothing sweeter than a well-tested recipe that works every time. They are worth their weight in culinary gold. (I’m talking about salt, people!) However, this time of year and with perfect ingredients, they can get in the way. There are no right or wrong ingredients for this dish. And no right or wrong amounts. What’s in season? What’s picked at the peak of perfection? What sounds good today?? But for those that prefer it, I have updated this recipe to show how I make it. You do you; I’ll do me.
Fresh Corn Salad – Yes, Please!
My go-to must-haves for this corn salad are always the basics – obvs corn and tomatoes. And I almost always include tomatillos. The grilled or roasted tomatillos provide the acid, and the bacon and avocados provide the fat, thereby eliminating the need for a dressing. It’s a self dressing salad – pure genius!!! The rest of the ingredients always vary and the proportions are flexible to taste. You can assemble all the ingredients except for greens and bacon well in advance. Just toss the more fragile ingredients in at serving time and don’t overmix – I love the big chunky pieces of corn cut from the cob. It tells everyone you got your hands dirty. That makes it taste so much better. What are you waiting for?
As always, check the seasonings. If anything, I usually grab a generous sprinkle of smoked serrano salt. That’s salt and pepper in one-stop shopping – almost as brilliant as the self-dressing salad. Or Maldon salt – my flaky favorite. Fresh cracked pepper. Done.
IF by some miracle you have leftover corn salad, it makes a fabulous addition to a quesadilla. But more than likely, you too will have a guest that grabbed the serving bowl and polished it off using a giant serving spoon. 🙂
Hey hey hey – I said everything BUT the farmer. But anyway here’s my corn guy from Ham Family Farm – always good for a recipe or produce update.
This late summer quick and easy pasta dish needs no introduction – corn, tomatoes, and summer squash? Why, hello friends! Welcome!! In a word – YUM! I found myself with a zucchini/tomato bounty post farmer’s market and wanted to whip up something that screams, “I see you Indian summer and I beg you to stay.”
There’s always so much to do this time of year, so why waste time getting dinner on the table? I say that it takes 25 minutes in the notes below, but that is really for the non-multi-tasker. If you get that water boiling first, start your sauté, drop the pasta, and add the veggies to the tomatoes, all while sipping a nice glass of vino, you will be done in far less time. Or at least you won’t notice. This dish is inspired by those that want no fuss, yet full flavor. Skillet-burst tomato & corn pasta has got your back.
Was your sweet corn as amazing as mine this summer? Dutch Love, Silver Queen, Peaches & Cream! Yes, please!! I am partial to the white corn, but the key to me is tiny kernels, sweet enough and oh-so-tender that you can eat it raw.
But corn shopping can get competitive where I come from. It might not be at the market by 8:15, because they are still picking, and by 9:15 you might be disappointed. A total shut out. Thanks to Ham Family Farm and my really pointy elbows, I was corn-endowed all season. Do you remember Everything But the Farmer Farmer’s Market Salad? Same joint. That is a salad that is also epic this time of year. And as long as you are buying tomatoes, buy extra and put up a batch of oven-dried tomatoes. You will thank me all winter.
Skillet-Burst Tomato & Corn Pasta
To get started, drop the cherry and grape tomatoes – I love heirlooms for their gorgeous hues – into a sauté pan with garlic. Whirl the pan to coat the tomatoes with the EVOO and sizzle til they start to char and burst. Add the summer squash and cook until caramelized.
Toss in some corn, arugula, and seasonings, then add the al dente-cooked pasta and Parmesan. I am using rigatoni here, but any short-cut shape will do. Divide among bowls, top with hand-torn fresh Mozzarella and fresh basil. As always, check the seasoning. I like to use a finishing salt like Maldon, and of course some fresh pepper or hot pepper flakes.
This late summer quick and easy skillet-burst tomato & corn pasta dish needs no introduction. Corn? Tomatoes? Summer squash? Why, hello friends! Welcome!! This dish highlights the bounty of late summer produce. Tumble onto a bed of pasta, shred some fresh mozzarella, garnish with basil, and you have yourself a feast.
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, smashed
4 cups heirloom cherry tomatoes, about 1 1/2 pounds
3 sprigs fresh thyme
Pinch of salt and pepper
1 1/2 pounds summer squash, about 8 extra small, trimmed and sliced (if using larger squash, cut into half-moons)
1-pound rigatoni, or another short-cut pasta
3 Tablespoons butter
2 ears of fresh corn, cut from the cob
1 cup thinly sliced arugula
Red pepper flakes to taste
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
2 balls fresh Mozzarella
2 Tablespoons thinly sliced basil (chiffonade)
Finish with Maldon sea salt or other flaky finishing salt
Heat olive oil over medium-high heat in a large sauté pan. Add garlic, tomatoes and thyme, and season with salt and pepper. Stir to coat the tomatoes, smashing garlic further. After 6 minutes, add the summer squash, stirring occasionally. Cook for an additional 5 or 6 minutes until the summer squash start to brown and caramelize.
Meanwhile bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente, according to the package instructions, about 12 minutes.
Turn the heat down to low on the sauté pan, and stir in butter, corn, arugula and season with red pepper flakes. Cook for three minutes, scrapping up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Remove the thyme.
Drain the pasta, reserving ½ cup of pasta water. Add the pasta to the vegetable mixture and add the Parmesan. Stir to combine, adding pasta water to thin, if desired.
Divide among six bowls and top each with 1/3 of a ball of fresh Mozzarella, torn by hand.
Garnish with basil and finish with flaky sea salt, adding more red pepper flakes if desired.
Use a bit of the pasta water, if you prefer a more saucy pasta and feel free to hit it with more butter. What could be bad?
Not going to lie – I wouldn’t be mad if you threw a Tablespoon or two of pesto on this. I did however create this combo of ingredients to let stellar tomatoes, sweetest corn and gorgeous squash be the rock stars. The more things you add, the less they are the standouts. This pasta mimics a fresh ear of corn slathered with butter. You be the master of your destiny!
Prep Time:10 minutes
Cook Time:15 minutes
Keywords: Tomato, Corn, Pasta
To source the Maldon salt and see more of my must-have kitchen tools, visit my shop. (affiliate links)
It was a perfect confluence of events. I was invited to a dedication at a local yacht club, complete with naval officers and Girl Scouts, and asked to bring a side to share. I had just loaded up with fresh corn, heirloom tomatoes, peppers and tomatillos (it’s true, I have been to five farmers market in six days – it’s that time of year – and no, I don’t have a problem, but thanks for your concern)! And then a fabulous box filled with RiceSelect Texmati Rice appeared on my doorstep awaiting a review (two thumbs up), courtesy of culinary friends at Mambo Sprouts. The wheels were already turning. Rice. Grilled Veggies. Salad Bowl. Rice & Grilled Veggie Salad Bowl. Voila! A summer salad jammed packed with flavor was born.
RiceSelect Texmati, in case you don’t know, combines the best qualities of basmati and American long-grain rice and has a popcorn-y aroma and nutty taste. Because the grains cook up dry, separate and fluffy, it is the ideal choice for a rice salad. Flavor + Texture. Win. Win. I was off and running to whip up a big batch of South of the Border Texmati Rice & Grilled Vegetable Salad. With Lime Cilantro Dressing!! Oh, yeah!
As my mind was spinning around southwestern flavors, I remembered a vinaigrette that was a fan-favorite in my earliest catering days. Lots of cumin. It was pretty basic – a bit of a one note samba by today’s palate’s cries for layers of flavor – so I dosed it with Sriracha, a serious hit of lime (juice and zest) and cilantro. Yum. I can’t be sure, though there are rumors of hoarding and hiding the leftovers, but I do believe this dish got better the next day. Even the grilled romaine held up. Especially with starch based dishes, it’s always important to re-taste for seasonings and acid both before you serve it and again the next day. To my palate, it was still well-seasoned the next day, but it’s your kitchen, you be the judge.
Couple of quick notes to keep in mind as you are cooking:
Once the rice sits off the heat to absorb the final liquid, remove the lid, fluff it with a fork. Since we are making a cold salad, drizzle a couple tablespoons of olive oil to coat and seal each grain. This will keep the rice from over-absorbing dressing later. And that friends, will let you serve it again over the next couple days.
The dressing recipe below makes a double batch and is a good one to keep on hand in the fridge. However if you want to store it for longer than a few days, add the cilantro to the salad, not the dressing. The cilantro-free dressing will keep refrigerated for a couple weeks.
When chopping the grilled tomatillos, be sure to catch and add the juices to the salad. These liquids are a great way to add depth of flavor to your salad. Single-handedly they add a rare combo – smoke AND acid
And zesting: if you aren’t fully stocked with a Microplane Zester/Grater, why are we even friends? For real. These zesters put the joy in zesting. No chance of getting too much bitter white pith in the zest. No more scraped knuckles. Perfect every time. And they are awesome for grating hard cheeses or spices like nutmeg. Run. Now.
Let’s get busy. This flavorful salad pairs perfectly with grilled meats or fish, or is a stand out as a vegetarian entrée. Add toasted pepitas for a dose of protein if serving as a main.
South of the Border Texmati Rice & Grilled Veggie Salad Bowl
Cook RiceSelect Texmati rice according to package directions. After you remove the pan from the heat and let it stand 5-10 minutes, transfer the rice to a mixing bowl and drizzle with 1 ½ Tablespoons olive oil, fluffing with a fork. Set aside.
Grill the vegetables over a hot grill: tomatillos, corn, poblano pepper and yellow bell pepper. Let the poblano char completely and transfer to a plastic bag to sweat. When cool enough to handle, pull off the char under running water and remove stem and seeds.
Coarsely chop the tomatillos, poblano and bell pepper and cut corn from cob. Add to the rice, along with any juices that release from the tomatillos.
Drizzle the Little Gems with olive oil and sprinkle with coriander. Grill cut side down until the lettuce just starts to wilt and gets grill marks. Chop coarsely and add to the salad.
Add tomatoes, queso fresco and avocado, and dress the salad with the Cumin Lime Cilantro Dressing.
Adjust seasonings before serving.
Makes about 3 quarts and is a fabulous leftover.
Cumin Lime Cilantro Dressing:
1/3 cup EVOO
¼ cup chopped cilantro (see note)
2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
2 Tablespoons Sriracha
Zest and Juice of 2 limes
½ Tablespoon ground cumin
½ Tablespoon salt
Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and whisk to combine.
Note: This will make twice the dressing needed for this salad and it will keep for several weeks refrigerated if you add the cilantro to the salad instead of the dressing itself. Or make a double batch of the salad and use it all!
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