Fourth of July

Best of Summer Salad

July 28, 2010
0 Ratings
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

This is one of our favorite summer salads. I always buy a few extra ears of corn at the farmers' markets on the weekend, to save for using in this, early in the week. A recent addition, inspired by my test of healthierkitchen's Sesame Noodles with Thai Basil, is the Chinese celery, which provides a richly flavored leaf that works well with the citrus in the dressing and the sweet flavors of the corn and dead-ripe heirloom tomatoes. We can get sugar snaps well into the summer here, so I often blanche and coarsely chop a handful of those as well. If you can't get sugar snaps, use some tender Blue Lake or other, similar string bean, trimmed and snapped. Please take care, though, if you plan to take this out to a picnic, block party or potluck. The acids in the dressing and the juice from the tomatoes can dull the brilliant green of your quickly blanched summer snaps or string beans, so take them separately, to add immediately before serving. Enjoy!! —AntoniaJames

What You'll Need
  • 2 or 3 organic Persian cucumbers
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 or 3 ears of sweet corn, not cooked
  • 12 -16 heirloom cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 3 tablespoons fruity extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1-2 teaspoons lime juice
  • A few drops of honey
  • ¼ teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 cup sugar snaps or green string beans, trimmed
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped Chinese (or other very green) celery leaves
  • 2-3 tablespoons finely chopped parsley leaves
  • 2-3 mint leaves, finely chopped (You can also use Thai basil, if you prefer)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Turbinado sugar, to taste
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest, finely chopped
  1. Scrub but don’t peel the cucumbers. Dice them into ½ inch cubes. Put in a bowl and sprinkle with a couple pinches of kosher salt, and set aside for at least a half an hour, tossing lightly once or twice during that time.
  2. Peel and, using the back of a fork, partially mash the garlic clove in a small bowl. Pour the olive oil over it and let it sit, to infuse the garlic flavor in the oil.
  3. Remove the corn kernels from the cobs, scraping off as much of the milky substance close to the cob as you can. Put the kernels and all of those tasty juices into the bowl in which you plan to serve the salad.
  4. Cut the tomatoes in half and put them in a bowl with the corn kernels. You can leave them whole if you prefer, but I cut them to allow their tasty juices to flavor the dressing.
  5. If using string beans, snap them in 2 or in thirds, to get nice bite-sized pieces. Put a medium sized pot of water on to boil. Meanwhile, set up a large bowl with iced water in it. Blanche the beans or sugar snaps for about two minutes, or more if you prefer. Drain immediately, then plunge them into the ice water, to stop their cooking. Let them sit there for a few minutes, until the beans are fully cooled, then drain them well.
  6. To make the dressing, put the lemon and lime juice, the zest, honey, mustard, and a pinch of salt. Stir with a fork, or cover and shake, until combined.
  7. When the salted cucumbers have been sitting for 30 minutes, rinse, drain and shake off as much of the rinse water as you can, easily.Add the cukes to the bowl with the corn and tomatoes. Add the chopped herbs.
  8. Pour the olive oil into the jar with the dressing, reserving the garlic for another use. (Or, if you like raw garlic in your salad, finely chop and add it, too.) Put the lid on and shake well, until thoroughly combined.
  9. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss it well. Test for salt and pepper.
  10. Let the salad sit for at least ten or fifteen minutes. Toss and test again. If the dressing is too sharp, sprinkle a tiny pinch of sugar over the entire salad and toss well. (The corn should provide a lot of sweetness to the salad, but it takes a few minutes for its sweet flavor to take hold in the dressing.)
  11. Add the sugar snaps or string beans immediately before serving. Toss and test for salt and pepper once again..
  12. Enjoy!!

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Midge
  • lapadia
  • dymnyno
  • TheWimpyVegetarian
  • SallyCan

Recipe by: AntoniaJames

See problem, solve problem. Ask questions; question answers. Disrupt, with kindness, courtesy and respect. ;o)

13 Reviews

VG September 26, 2021
Great salad -- easy to put together, and I substituted with regular celery leaves. One thing, next time I make this recipe I will probably double the dressing. It may be my taste buds but it was a little light for me.
Midge August 19, 2010
Yum. Making this tonight!
AntoniaJames August 23, 2010
Hope you enjoyed it! Just had a request for this from a member of the younger generation here, so we'll be having it again in the next day or two, ourselves. ;o)
lapadia August 18, 2010
Beautiful recipe, it just "screams" summer!
AntoniaJames August 18, 2010
It really does . . . the combination of mint, celery leaves and parsley in particular, with the citrus juices, makes it really fresh and bright tasting. Thanks so much!!
dymnyno August 17, 2010
Sounds delicious and of course healthy , a signature of Antonia James!
AntoniaJames August 18, 2010
Thanks so much and yes, it's both wonderfully healthy and also delicious, which makes it an oft-requested menu item in this household! ;o)
TheWimpyVegetarian August 17, 2010
This looks so refreshing! I also love a lemon - lime combination for a summer salad with a little honey. But I confess I've never worked with Chinese celery. It sounds really interesting. Did you have trouble finding it?
AntoniaJames August 17, 2010
Thanks, ChezSuzanne! I have to go to Chinatown in Oakland (but it's such fun!!) to find it, and not all of the produce markets have it. The shop that always has it on hand -- and it's beautifully fresh -- also sells a number of other things I like to buy, so it works out well. If you can't get Chinese celery, just buy organic regular celery with a lot of dark green leaves, and use about 80% leaf to 20% stalk. There's not a huge difference in the flavor. You just get gobs of those rich dark leaves, and the stalks are very thin and delicate, and have no (or minimal) strings in them. ;o)
SallyCan July 29, 2010
Looks like a perfect summer salad, light and fresh. I like that you use both lemon and lime juice, and also the addition of lemon zest. You could put a bit lovage in this, too. Pretty picture, as always : )
AntoniaJames July 29, 2010
Thank you! Lemon + lime are great together in summer salads. They bring out the bold flavors of the chopped herbs. (I just realized that I left out the parsley . . . . I put in an amount about equal to the celery leaves.) ;o)
slulibby July 28, 2010
This reminds me of a dinner my grandma used to make durring the summer. She would just steam some fresh sweet corn, slice some tomatoes, and put salt on the table.
Those simple meals with fresh produce were always the best.
AntoniaJames July 29, 2010
Mmm, yes. So true. Just let those freshly-picked, just-cooked flavors of summer speak for themselves! ;o)