Now more than any other time of year is the time to visit farmers markets…and bring lots and lots of empty bags with you. This year, the City’s Greenmarkets are filled to the brim with one of the most successful harvests in recent memory, and the varieties and supplies of vegetables available are getting better each day. Considering the drought that is affecting some parts of the country, I am cherishing our good luck this year.
I am particularly grateful for the fresh corn, my personal favorite each August and September. Corn as a favorite wasn’t always the case, however: I became truly smitten with it when I came across a recipe for fresh corn salad in Ina Garten’s classic The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook. I had made – and tasted – many corn salads for years, but none had ever knocked my socks off until I tasted this one. Here’s the kicker: it’s the easiest corn salad I have ever made.
I’ve been cooking a long time and there are few recipes I have not tweaked in one way or another. This recipe is one I have never touched and always follow to the letter: it was perfect the first time I made it years ago, and has been ever since. The secret is in its simplicity, and if you follow the recipe correctly (read: use FRESH ingredients and never make a substitution), it will never disappoint.
There is a bowl of this fresh salad in our refrigerator every week in August and September – it goes with just about anything – until the last of the fresh corn has disappeared from the marketplace in early fall. That’s when I truly begin to mourn summer, and start counting down the days until next August.
Happily, I still have lots of time left to enjoy this year’s bounty. I have a standing date every Wednesday with the Greenmarket at Union Square until the corn runs out. Try this, and you’ll become smitten, too.
Fresh Corn Salad
(Recipe by Ina Garten, from The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook)
• 5 ears corn, shucked
• ½ cup small-diced red onion
• 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
• 3 tablespoons good olive oil
• ½ teaspoon kosher salt
• ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
• ½ cup chiffonade fresh basil leaves
In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the corn for 3 minutes; drain and immerse the corn in a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking. When the corn is cool, drain it and cut the kernels off the cob, cutting close to the cob. (Lori’s note: I do this on a rimmed baking sheet to keep the kernels from flying all over the kitchen.)
Toss the kernels in a large bowl with the red onion, vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. Just before serving, toss in the fresh basil. Adjust the seasonings if needed and serve cold or at room temperature.
Serves 4 to 6