This is one of my favorite salads of all time and an absolute classic: corn grilled until it's smoky and sweet, then tossed with ripe end-of-season tomatoes in a light lemon and olive oil dressing. Salty chunks of feta and a ton of fresh herbs finish it off. As simple and delicious as recipes come.
Why this recipe works:
- The big secret is not so secret at all: get the best darned end-of-summer produce you can find, and put it together.
- Heavily charring the corn brings out its natural sweetness.
- The lemon and olive oil dressing is a simple as it gets, and lets the vegetables' natural flavors come through.
Note: For the tomatoes, I like to go for nice, heavy, heirloom varieties like Purple Cherokee or orange Amana tomatoes, along with a few smaller cherry or grape tomatoes. But really, the only key is that the tomatoes must be ripe, and that they must be as local as you can find.
To char corn without a grill, remove raw corn kernels from husk. Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a large non-stick or cast iron skillet or wok over high heat until shimmering. Add corn, shake once to distribute, and cook without moving until darkly charred on first side, about 3 minutes. Toss and flip corn and repeat until corn is covered in dark spots, about 8 minutes total. Allow to cool for 10 minutes, then proceed with the second half of step 4.
- 3 tablespoons best quality extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon juice from 1 lemon
- 4 ears sweet corn, husks removed
- 2 pounds ripe tomatoes (see note), cut into bite-size chunks
- 1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves
- 1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh basil leaves
- 1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh mint leaves
- 8 ounces feta cheese, cut into 1/2-inch chunks
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Combine olive oil and lemon juice in a small bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside.
Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and arrange the coals on one side of the charcoal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Alternatively, set half the burners on a gas grill to the highest heat setting, cover, and preheat for 10 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. To char corn without a grill, see note.
Place corn directly over hot side of grill and cook, turning occasionally, until charred on all sides and fully tender, about 10 minutes total. Remove corn from grill and allow to rest until cool enough to handle, about 5 minutes.
Working one ear at a time, hold the corn vertically inside a large bowl and use a sharp knife to remove the kernels. Discard the cob. Add tomatoes, parsley, basil, mint, and feta cheese to the bowl. Whisk the dressing and add it to the bowl. Season with salt and pepper and gently fold with clean hands until all the ingredients are incorporated and coated in the dressing. Serve immediately.