Perhaps more than any other time of year, summer makes me fantasize unrealistically about effortlessly glamorous entertaining. As soon as the summer issues of Bon Appetit and Food and Wine hit the shelves, I start dog earring pages and ripping out recipes. Images like this and this decorate my Pinterest page, and I imagine relaxed linen tablecloths blowing in the breeze as we dine al fresco on the veranda...just a "simple little" clambake, which I whip up easily. I then spend the evening topping off my guests' glasses of rose without splashing on my white linen pants. I even have this recipe for braised octopus stuck in a folder (which I would serve on nautical plates, of course. Wouldn't you?)
And then real summer hits. Sweaty and slightly sun-burnt and lingering at the beach, we suddenly gasp, "what?! It's 7pm already? Want to come over and BBQ?" Everyone scrambles to gather the pieces necessary for a meal, bags of potato buns get thrown on the table, friends mix their own cocktails (inevitably leaving sticky spots on the kitchen floor, which my bare feet find the next morning), and we end the night with a tub of ice cream passed around with plastic spoons.
This corn salad suits both visions. It's a regular at all of our summer gatherings, no matter how harried. I can whip it together quickly and easily based on what's on hand on my counter top, but the end result is elegant enough to stand up to a more formal summer feast. Not that I've ever had one of those. I mean, let's be realistic...have you ever prepped an octopus before?!
This is an ode to summer's bounty - sweet corn, bursting tomatoes, juicy peaches, and bright green basil. But if you have plums in your fruit bowl instead of peaches, that works too. Cilantro instead of basil? Sounds delicious. Proportions are meant to be made to taste, not measured, depending on what's available to you.
SUMMER CORN SALAD
- about an ear of corn for each person you're serving
- a peach or two, pitted and cubed
- two handfuls of cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
- a quarter to a half of a red onion, thinly sliced
- a handful of basil leaves, chiffonaded
- red wine vinegar and olive oil
- cayenne pepper
Cut the corn from the cobs and place kernels in a large bowl. Top with tomatoes, peaches, basil and onion. Drizzle lightly with vinegar and olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, and finish with cayenne pepper - from a pinch to 1/8 of a tsp, depending on your taste. Mix gently with your fingers or a large spoon.
Do you have a favorite summer ingredient you'd add to the mix? I'm such a sucker for an ear of sweet summer corn, there's almost nothing it doesn't compliment, in my mind. (And to make your gathering just a little more Pinterest-worthy, you can use your leftover corn cobs to make a unique iced tea, which I'll post about tomorrow!)
Now go enjoy that beach day! See you at the grill around 9pm...
(all images, jamie grill photography)