A salad! With fresh from the market loot. California farmers markets are insane (like, in the membrane) this time of year — fresh berries of every kind, ripe peaches, blushing apricots, sweet corn, mountains of summer squashes and herbs and asparagus and plums and cauliflower and lions and tigers and bears, oh my. It’s overwhelmingly good, all of it.
Fresh corn on the cob reminds me of summertime with my Grandpa Arnie — PopPop — on Long Island. I’ve written about him before — about how he could hold his breath underwater for minutes at a time, drink like a fish and golf like a pro, about how he’d pile us grandkids on his “tractor” for joyrides on the lawn, teach us to fly kites on the beach or wear the shortest shorts and the floppiest hat and stand by the grill, tending to his famous barbecued ribs. The ribs were legendary, but PopPop was always most impressed by the requisite side of fresh corn. “Best corn of the season!” he’d proclaim triumphantly, the juicy yellow kernels popping lightly as he took another bite from the cob.
I’m pretty sure every single piece of corn PopPop ever sunk his teeth into was “the best corn of the season.”
PopPop’s been gone for a few summers now, but whenever I see fresh corn at the market I chuckle to myself before declaring it the season’s best, hands down. And this fresh corn salad, brightly colored with early summer’s bounty? …Best of the season. No question.
This salad is vegan as written, but if you wanted to add a handful of feta cheese or some mozzarella, I’d be happy about that.
- 6 ears corn, shucked
- 2 yellow summer squash or zucchini, cut into thin half moons
- 2 small thin-skinned cucumbers (such as Persian cukes), cut into thin half moons
- 3 scallions, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh mint leaves (chiffonade)
- 1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
- roughly 1/2 cup olive oil
- juice from 1 lemon
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped tarragon
- salt and pepper, to taste
Carefully cut the fresh corn off the cob and into a large bowl (I like to do this by holding the ear of corn vertically, anchoring it at the bottom of the bowl, and using a sharp knife to shave the kernels right off and into the bowl, sliding my knife from the top of the ear to the bottom). Set corn aside.
Set a large frying pan over medium high heat, and pour in about 2 tablespoons olive oil. Once the oil is hot but not smoking, add the yellow squash in batches (make sure to cook them in a single layer, otherwise they’ll steam instead of brown) and sauté until lightly browned on both sides, roughly 5 minutes per batch. Transfer sautéed squash to the bowl with the corn. Add the cucumbers, scallions, fresh mint and tomatoes.
In a smaller bowl, whisk together the remaining olive oil, lemon juice, Dijon, and chopped tarragon until emulsified. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Pour dressing over corn salad to lightly coat (you may have some leftover dressing — save it for another time!), and enjoy immediately or chill in the fridge up to 3 days.
Makes about 6-8 cups.