Last weekend, I returned to my home state of New Jersey to visit family and friends I hadn't seen in a while. It's always a bit of a culture shock to go back; gigantic buildings spring up like weeds in a garden, the roads are always faster and more congested than I remember, and everywhere I go people are in a hurrrrrrry. (I certainly take for granted how easy it is to be mindful in the peaceful mountains of Vermont!) Crack a joke if you must about Snookie or over-crowded industrialization, but I love New Jersey for a great many reasons, not the least of which being the food.
New Jersey is, after all, the Garden State. (I am ignoring the snickering I hear through the broadband.) In fact, the last stop my husband and I planned before heading north again was the farm stand near the house where I grew up. Oh my word, the tomatoes. Beefsteaks, Romas, heirloom varieties in a rainbow of colors…sigh.
The short, cooler summers of Vermont do have one definite drawback, and it is a lack of these amazingly flavorful gifts from the gods. Just one sniff of the air in a Jersey farmer's market in August and I began to drool. A tomato, after all, should smell like sweet heavenly dirt and sunshine, not the plastic and wax indicative of a grocery store 'mater. You Jersey girls out there know what I'm talking about!
So I scooped up oodles of tomatoes and peaches and sweet corn and Italian plums, and loaded up our truck for the trek home to the mountains. Our balanced dinner that night included this quick dish and a chorizo and cheddar omelet (also quick and delicious), all of which took less than 10 minutes to throw together. This easy and healthy recipe highlights the flavor of a really fine tomato without overwhelming it with too many other ingredients. And you can save the resulting dressing to top your next salad or marinate some chicken, too.
Tomato and Sweet Corn Salad – serves 4
3-4 beautiful Beefsteak tomatoes, preferably from Jersey ;)
4 ears of fresh sweet corn
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
2 tablespoons of fresh basil, minced or 1/2 tsp of dry basil
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
Cut the tomatoes into bite size pieces. Shuck the sweet corn and place the stem end (the flatter one) on your cutting board, so that the other end is pointing straight up. Using a chef's knife, slice down the ear of corn, removing the top 1/2 of the corn kernels. Do this on all sides of the ear, then turn your knife around and use the dull side to rub down on the cob, squeezing out the remaining corn meat and milk, as shown in the picture above. (You do not need to cook the corn.) Combine with the tomatoes and the remaining ingredients. Add a side of protein (how about 3 cups of black beans and 2 ounces of fresh mozzarella tossed directly in with the tomatoes?) for a great healthy meal idea.