Fresh Corn & Basil Salad

This salad’s too pretty to keep under wraps. Ideally prepared with fresh corn, you can use frozen in a pinch and the salad’s just as good. It’s hearty enough to stand up to a perfectly grilled steak or seared ahi, and could stand alone as a main course if you toss in some protein.

At first I was tempted to skip the balsamic vinegar; it seemed wrong somehow with the sweetness of the corn. But then I decided the fine ladies who developed the recipe (more on that in a bit) knew what they were doing. This was my contribution to a New Year’s Eve dinner party, so I made a huge batch, enough for 10 people. In hindsight, this was probably too much, as I had leftovers, which didn’t keep well, so I’ve chopped in half what I prepared for that night. Because it’s a salad, you can be loosey goosey with the ingredients; just make sure you balance the vegetables with the dressing and seasoning.

You can find the original recipe for this salad and dozens more in the beautifully done California Sol Food, created by the Junior League of San Diego. I was a part of the development team that brought this book to market, and it was one of the best, most educational volunteer assignments I’ve ever had.

Today the book is almost seven years old, ancient in today’s cookbook-crazy publishing world, yet the recipes and the book itself are as fresh as ever. Most book stores in San Diego carry California Sol Food, or you can buy it online or through the Junior League of San Diego.

It’s packed with menus for breakfast, lunch and dinner, plus brunch and happy hour – essential meal times for easy entertaining – and includes helpful hints such as cooking techniques and measuring equivalents. For new or even experienced chefs, it’s the perfect housewarming gift.

Corn Salad with Tomatoes

1 16-oz bag frozen yellow corn
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided (one tablespoon for the skillet, one for the salad’s dressing)
2/3 cup fresh basil, julienned
16-20 ounces Roma, cherry or other sweet tomatoes, chopped
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

1. Prepare the frozen corn according to package directions. Drain, pat dry, and set aside in a large bowl.
2. Warm 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat; add the garlic and sauté until brown.
3. Add the basil and stir long enough to soak in the garlic oil, about 30 seconds.
4. Add the oil mixture and the chopped tomatoes to the corn, stirring lightly but thoroughly to mix.
5. Add the balsamic vinegar and another tablespoon of olive oil, plus salt and freshly ground pepper to taste. Stir again, cover and chill in the refrigerator for a few hours before serving.

Adapted from a recipe found in California Sol Food.


  1. says

    Looks delicious and your timing is perfect. We just harvested our first batch of corn and I really needed a new idea. Now if our tomatoes were ready I’d be all set. Looks like a trip to the store so I can make this tomorrow. Perfect weather for a nice light salad.


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