Nothing beats a leafy, brimming bowl layered with fresh garden pickings and the farmers market bounty. Sweet corn and juicy tomatoes are ripe headliners in high summer and pair up in this vibrant salad inspired by Italian panzanella. Panzanella translates to bread (pane) and a deep plate or bowl (zanella). It’s a Tuscan and Umbrian bread and tomato salad that relies on stale bread, which is refreshed in the juice of salted ripe tomatoes and tossed with a simple vinaigrette.
The recipe below is not entirely traditional, but it expresses the gist of a panzanella salad, with grilled croutons and exuberantly ripe and juicy tomatoes. Pops of fresh corn kernels are added to the summery mix, along with quick-pickled red onions and an herbaceous basil vinaigrette.
This salad is a sum of components that are prepared individually, then combined. Note that the dressing is thicker in consistency than a traditional vinaigrette, so if you prefer a runnier dressing, add more oil to thin it out (and be sure to adjust the seasoning). Take the time to soak the onions; this method softens their pungency and amplifies their natural sweetness. Grilled bread adds a hint of char and depth of flavor to the salad.
As for the corn, I recommend using fresh raw corn kernels. In-season corn kernels are a summer delight. They are crisp and juicy with a delicate milky sweetness. Cooking the corn increases their sweetness, softens the kernels, and dulls their fresh-picked grassy flavor.
Tomato and Corn Panzanella SaladActive Time: 20 minutes Total Time: 40 minutes
Serves 4 to 6
- 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
- 1 garlic clove, chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh red wine vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
- 2 to 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1/2 French or Italian baguette
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt
- 4 ounces mixed greens, such as arugula and red bibb lettuce leaves
- Kernels from two ears of yellow or bicolor corn
- 1 pound ripe tomatoes, such as Early Girl or heirloom, cut into bite-size chunks or wedges
Place the onion in a small bowl. Sprinkle the vinegar over it and stir to coat. Let stand for about 20 minutes. Drain and blot onions dry with a kitchen towel.
Halve the baguette lengthwise. Brush the cut sides with oil and lightly season with salt. Grill or broil until golden and charred in spots, turning once, about 4 minutes. Remove, and when cool to the touch, tear into bite-size pieces.
Combine the greens, corn, tomatoes, onion, and bread in a serving bowl. Drizzle with some of the dressing and toss to combine. Serve with more dressing to your taste.