I was having a conversation with a friend the other day lamenting the fact that I have had nothing to post because my summer cooking has been so simple — and really not recipe worthy. How can I legitimately write a recipe for tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil? Or chicken on the grill? Or lightly cooked corn with butter and salt? Or cucumbers with a bit of sour cream and mint?
It’s just all so … basic. When you start with seasonal produce grown down the road and picked the same day, you just really don’t have to do much. And late summer has all of our favorite stuff — corn, tomatoes, raspberries — which are not exactly challenging to eat up. Zucchini, on the other hand…
So after my little pep talk, I decided to make something slightly more “recipe worthy.” A counter full of heirloom tomatoes, a crate of sweet corn, a bunch of basil, and some beautiful artisan sourdough bread were the inspiration — and I’m pretty sure nothing bad can happen when you combine those ingredients. The key to dishes like this are simple, but high quality ingredients. Your dish will go from delicious to “out of this world and I feel like I’m in Italy” if you invest in wonderful olive oil and have a great artisan baker for the bread.
This would be perfect for a picnic or party and is still good the next day (the bread in the leftover salad loses its crispness, but my daughter and I didn’t mind and polished the rest off for lunch.) Pour yourself a large glass of red wine and savor summer.
Garlicky Bread Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes and Sweet Corn
1 1/2 loaves of sourdough bread (about 1.5 pounds)
4-5 ears of corn, husked
1 large handful of basil, washed and torn into pieces
4-6 heirloom tomatoes, cored (I used 2 large and 4 smaller ones)
3-4 T good quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil (plus 1 T)
1 1/2 T lemon juice
1-2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
Coarse sea salt or kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
1. Prepare bread: Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove crusts from bread (reserve crusts for another use) and tear bread into bite size pieces. Don’t cut it — the rustic nature of the torn bread is perfect. Toss the bread with 1 T olive oil and salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet and toast (stirring occasionally) for about 8-10 minutes until just lightly toasted. Set aside.
2. Prepare corn: Cover ears of corn in a large pot with cold water. Bring water to the boil (as soon as it boils, the corn is done). Remove and allow to cool for a few minutes. Cut corn off the cob and set aside.
3. Prepare dressing: Mix 3-4 T of olive oil with lemon juice, chopped garlic, a healthy pinch of salt, and freshly ground pepper.
4. When you are ready to serve, cut tomatoes into wedges or small chunks. On a large platter or in a bowl, gently mix toasted bread, corn, tomatoes, basil, and dressing. Taste and adjust with more salt and pepper or additional olive oil if necessary. Using a vegetable peeler, make large strips of Parmigiano Reggiano and scatter over top of salad. Serve immediately.