Corn and tomatoes. Corn and tomatoes. What’s for dinner at my house on any given late summer night? Whatever else is on the menu, I can almost guarantee you it will include my favorite produce of the season, corn and tomatoes.
I often serve them in their simplest form — sliced tomatoes, seasoned with flaky salt and drizzled with good extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar and corn on the cob, dripping with butter.
Mixing it up isn’t hard, though. It doesn’t stretch the imagination much to think about adding corn and tomatoes to any number of pastas, salsas or vegetable side dishes. These amicable vegetables seem to get along with almost any other ingredient they come across.
This week, I’ve taken the iconic Italian caprese salad that typically features tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and basil and made room for a generous addition of grilled corn and shrimp.
Remember the good old days when we boiled our corn on the cob? While I still do that from time to time, if my grill is fired up, the corn is getting cooked on it. And with good reason. Grilling gives the corn a multitude of added dimensions.
The grill gives the corn a slight smokiness that plays beautifully with its natural sweetness. It also dries it out slightly, creating just enough chewiness to be interesting.
Once the corn is off the grill, the kernels are cut off and mixed with chopped fresh tomatoes.
Of course, you can get tomatoes year-round at the grocery store, but in late summer, heirloom tomatoes are the better choice, as they’re typically so much more flavorful. Although heirlooms can often be found in grocery stores this time of year, you’re likely to have even more choices at your local farmers market.
I like to chop my tomatoes and give them time to drain any excess liquid in a colander. This year, with all the rain, locally grown tomatoes can hold a lot of excess liquid you don’t want in your salad, salsa, or whatever else you’re making. For that reason, it makes sense to take the time to drain them. One or two tomatoes can throw off ¼ to ½ cup of watery liquid.
Along with the tomatoes and corn, chunks of fresh mozzarella and a heaping handful of thinly sliced fresh basil, and grilled shrimp rounds out the salad, turning it into a satisfying late summer meal.