I was astonished at how delicious this warm salad was today: I had pretty low expectations of it, seeing as I made it up on the spot, but, well, yum.
I knew Meriel & Liz were coming round for lunch today; Meriel had requested my avocado on toast, which I had made when I visited her in Switzerland for her baby shower but I forgot to engage with exactly what else I would be feeding them. (Wo) Man cannot live on bread — and avocado — alone.
So, when they rang to say they were en route, I looked in the fridge, cursed, & nipped out & round the corner to Inverness Street Market to see what looked fresh and interesting.
I was vaguely thinking cherry tomatoes to roast, as even the dullest tomatoes undergo some kind of alchemical delicious change when cooked until soft with olive oil and sea salt. A kilo (2lbs) was £1.30, so that was a good start.
Then I saw some corn cobs with their silks hanging out. Since I lived with the boys in New Jersey, I’m obsessed with eating corn as fresh as possible in the summer. So, I prodded the ears: the kernels looked plump and creamy, so I bought four at 50p each. Wasn’t quite sure what to do with them but vaguely thought they could be interesting. And, then with booty clutched to my bosom, I hopped it home again.
I put the tomatoes straight into the oven, which I had turned on to 150C before I left the house. I added a decent slug of Greek olive oil, a sprinkling of Maldon Salt, ground over lots of black pepper, and strewed the dish with torn basil from the plant on my counter.
Whilst they were cooking, I sliced the corn kernels off the cob. (I learnt to do this in New Jersey: it’s is not a usual way of preparing corn in the UK — it’s pretty much always served on the cob, or bought already kernel-ed in a can or frozen.) I tasted the kernels and they were sweet, plump and fresh. If they are at all chewy, dry or bland then this is not the recipe for you.
The tomatoes cooked for about 30–40 minutes until they looked like this, with lots of delicious juices. Really soft, and slightly caramelised around the edges.
I had left the bowl of corn kernels next to the oven, and thought hey I’ll just tip them into the roasting pan. I mixed them with the hot juices and left the mixture for about 45 minutes so that the flavours could mingle, and the corn soften a little.
I always adored Succotash when I lived in America. I’d read about it in novels, but really had no idea what it actually was until I was fed it at Thanksgiving one year. For those of you who also have no idea, it’s a dish of stewed corn kernels & lima beans, cooked with chopped tomatoes and onions, served warm. That was the inspiration for this dish. No lima beans, and no stewing, but the basic premise of fresh corn and tomatoes remains the same.
I added more fresh basil, and tipped it all into a bowl. We ate it warm alongside a feta & bulgar salad, and the afore-mentioned avocado on sourdough toast. (The salad would be equally good cold but, if you refrigerate it, do make sure you bring it to room temperature before eating it.)
Not bad for a last minute, scratch lunch. It’s a great balance of flavours, with the slightly sharp tomatoes mixing with the sweetness of the corn and the fragrance of the basil. Cheap, extremely cheerful and absolutely delicious.