Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Summer Lovin': Heirloom Tomato and Corn Salad

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I'm often heard to lament the woeful state of tomatoes in England.  Although London has made leaps and bounds on the food scene in the past ten years, there are a few things* you just cannot get here, and tomatoes are one of those things.  The little cherry ones are okay, but the big-'uns are just sad, flavorless lumps of dried-out depression.

Which is exactly why, when I have the opportunity to go home to the Bay Area for a month (as I just did), I eat as many tomatoes as I can get my hands on.  And my favorites, hands down, are the big, bright, juicy, luscious heirlooms that were just coming into season as my plane landed at SFO.

They're amazing.  I like to eat them with salt, standing over the sink biting into one like an apple, letting the juice run down to my elbow.  But there are classier ways to do it, too: on a lovely Italian serving dish, layered with mozzarella (or better yet, burrata); sliced into hunks and put in a crisp romaine salad; cut into chunks and served with chunks of watermelon and goat cheese.

I discovered, during my blissfully overstuffed-with-deliciousness time at home, a new amazing way to eat these tomatoes: in a fresh, cold, corn and tomato salad.  So easy, so refreshing, SO scrumdiddlyumptious.  I can't even begin to tell you how tasty this is.  Suffice it to say, I'm damn near weeping with withdrawal as I type this in my dark London living room, waiting for the frozen cod cakes and spinach to heat up for dinner.

Anyway, for any of you dear readers who may currently be in the land of flavorful tomatoes, here's how it's done:

Buy the tastiest, juiciest, best tomatoes you can get your hands on, and boil some corn on the cob and let it cool (I used leftovers).  Cut the corn off the cob with a serrated knife, and break up the strips into a big bowl.  Then slice up those tomatoes.

Throw them in the bowl with the corn and splash with olive oil, pepper, and coarse sea salt (the salt is important, so don't skimp).

Mix it all up, and let sit for a minute.

Meanwhile, go out into the gorgeous California sunshine and pluck some unbelievably fragrant basil from your parents' ridiculously fruitful garden patches, then go back into the house and tear some of that goodness up and stir into the salad.

Put it in the prettiest bowl you can find, grab a fork, and go sit on the deck.  Then go back for seconds and thirds.  When there's one serving left, put it in a bowl in the fridge, wrapped with cling film, so your mom has something to snack on when she finishes her nap in the sun.  That step is important.

Do it all again the next day, and the next, until you have to leave the land of plenty.  And when you're back in the land of less, eat lots of delicious Italian food and curry (meh, but the bf likes it) to remind yourself that it's not all bad over here...

*These things include avocados; they almost always turn out to have brown stringiness running through their flesh, and small, perfectly round tumor-things spreading throughout as well.  And corn.  It's just not good.  Sadfac√©.

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