Sweet corn, savory herbs, juicy tomatoes — what more could you want? Summer brings out the best on our plates. (Summer also means that my refrigerator tends to be a bit bare since a lot of my future meals are anchored to my garden dirt.) And now that we’re — sniff! — at the tail end of summer, we’re smack in the middle of corn’s peak season. Your best bet is to buy some freshly harvested corn from a roadside stand, a farmer’s market, or a produce market. Once you have your just-picked fresh corn, cook it ASAP, because the natural sugars in corn morph into starch as the corn ages. Translation: fresh kernels are much sweeter and more crisp than mature kernels are.
The real secret when it comes to corn, though, is not to overcook it. Even the freshest and sweetest of kernels will become mushy and less flavorful if you boil them into oblivion. Short is truly sweet!
Corn & Herb Salad Serves 2 for a hearty meal, but recipe can easily be doubled or tripled
2 ears corn, husked
Double handful cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 of a Vidalia or other sweet onion, minced
2 banana peppers or 1 bell pepper, minced
15 oz. black beans, drained (use Eden beans if you’d prefer a BPA-free can)
Assorted baby lettuce leaves
Chives, snipped with kitchen shears or minced
Fresh orange or lime juice (depending on whether you’re in a sweet or tangy mood)
Extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt & freshly cracked pepper
Get a large pot of water boiling. The pot will have to be big enough to accommodate the ears of corn, so you might want to see if they fit in there before you actually fill the pot with water. Add corn and boil for 3 minutes, reducing heat if the bubbles start to erupt from the pot. Lift out ears with tongs and set in a dish drain to cool.
When the ears are cool enough to touch, hold them above a large bowl at an obtuse angle (more than 90 degrees) and use a sharp knife to free the kernels from the cob, gripping the ear at one end and starting to cut the kernels halfway down the ear. Flip over and repeat with the remaining kernels.
Toss with remaining ingredients, using equal portions of citrus juice and oil. (Figure on about 1 T. of juice + 1 T. of oil for 2 people.) If you’d like, serve with leftover cooked chicken or fish.