Heirloom Tomato & Grilled Corn Salad with Basil Vinaigrette

Here’s a great recipe using some of the fresh vegetables available these days! Nothing like the taste of roasted corn and fresh heirloom tomatoes to scream SUMMER!

  • 3 tbsp champagne vinegar or white-wine vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 4 ears of fresh corn in husks
  • 1 1/4 pounds assorted heirloom tomatoes, cored and cut into 1/2″ pieces
  • 1 10oz container of small heirloom cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered

In a glass mixing boil, whisk together the vinegar and garlic. Add the oil in a thin stream, whisking constantly to incorporate, then add the basil. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Fill a large bowl with water. Mix in 1 tsp sea salt. Add the corn and soak for 1 hour.

Prepare your barbecue or gas grill (medium-high heat). Drain the corn. Grill the corn in the husks until the outside is very charred and the corn kernels are tender, turning occasionally, about 25 minutes.

Cool the corn. Remove the husks and cut the kernels off the cobs into a large bowl. Add the tomatoes. Toss with enough vinaigrette to coat. Season with salt and pepper.

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Corn & Zucchini Salad

Summer is finally here and for us, that means a lot of time spent at the lake where we dine al fresco on the pier with friends. My normal contribution to the meal is a composed salad of some sort, be it pasta salad, potato salad (check out Bacon Parmesan Potato Salad in the blog archives, redneck caviar (Hoppin’ John Salad in the archives) or homemade salsa. I haven’t made corn and zucchini salad in a couple of summers but now that fresh corn is cheap and plentiful, it will be on a future menu at the lake.

This recipe can be made with raw corn, like many corn salad recipes are, but I like the corn a little more tender and a little less starchy. That’s why I blanch the corn. Canned corn is over-cooked, and while it will work if you need a quick salad for a last minute party, it won’t be as fresh tasting. You can also used grilled corn for a smokier flavored salad (perfect with BBQ), and you can change the whole flavor profile from southwestern to Italian simply by using fresh chopped basil instead of fresh chopped cilantro!

  • 5 ears of fresh corn, shucked
  • 2 cups zucchini chopped into a small dice or quartered lengthwise and then sliced thin
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt or Kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup finely diced red onion
  • 2 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro (for southwestern style) or chopped basil leaves (for Italian style)
  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 1/4 tsp minced garlic (or 1 clove)

Bring a large pot of water to a boil on the stovetop and cook the corn for 3-5 minutes. Remove from the heat, drain and then immerse the corn into ice cold water to stop the cooking process. Once the corn has cooled enough to handle, cut the kernels from the cob into a large bowl.

Add to the corn, the remaining ingredients. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving. The longer it marinates in the refrigerator, the better it will taste, so you can make it an hour before eating, or make it the day before.

 

Gastrique

One of the simplest, most flavorful sauces you can make on the fly to flavor just about any type of meat is a “gastrique”. A gastrique is a boiled sugar syrup deglazed with vinegar and flavored with your choice of spices, herbs, fruits, liqueur, etc. The sugar combines with the tang of the vinegar and makes a delicious syrup style sauce. You need to use a flavorful vinegar; a cider vinegar, red wine vinegar, champagne vinegar, etc and not common white household vinegar. Last night I grilled some chicken thighs and made a wonderful cranberry-rosemary gastrique to drizzle over the chicken.

To make a gastrique:

    • In a saucepan with a heavy bottom, add 1/4 cup sugar and 2 tbsp water. Your sugar should resemble wet sand. Cook over medium high heat until sugar dissolves and syrup boils, stirring constantly, to achieve a light brown color. The darker the syrup, the more flavorful the sauce. Be careful, this sugar syrup is extremely hot and will burn you if it bubbles out of the pot.
    • Once the sugar syrup has achieved a nice nutty color, add 1/4 cup vinegar (I used red wine vinegar) all at once, so the hot syrup has less time to react to the liquid addition. The syrup with harden once the liquid is added to the pot, so keep cooking and stirring until the liquid begins to cook out and the syrup thickens enough to coat a spoon.

  • Once your gastrique has thickened, you will add your flavorings. I used Craisins (dried cranberries) and some fresh rosemary from a bush in my back yard. Use anything you think would enhance the meat you are serving. If using a liqueur, you will need to cook the sauce a few minutes longer to absorb the flavors and burn off the additional liquid. Then simply pour over your meat, or you can pour directly on the plate and place meat atop the gastrique