A week or two ago, my friend at work loaned me one of his favorite cookbooks, “Six Seasons” by Joshua McFadden. The cookbook puts an emphasis on fresh, seasonal vegetables, something that my friend and I are both passionate about.
I like the cookbook because it comes up with inventive ways to serve vegetables. The recipes are pretty straightforward and emphasize the produce. A lot of times when you come across vegetable recipes, it’s all about playing up other ingredients in the dish or focusing on a protein aspect. McFadden’s recipes are about making the natural flavors in the vegetables come together to create something satisfying and delicious.
I dog-eared two recipes in the cookbook and then I decided to combine them. I riffed on a corn salad recipe and a farro recipe to create this summer corn and tomato salad.
My favorite part about the recipe is the torn croutons. You might be like, you were just talking about how vegetables are the shining stars of McFadden’s recipes. This is still true, but I’m a bread and carb lover so naturally, I gravitate toward that. You’ll want to make these croutons over and over again. They’re crunchy and the perfect amount of salty, and they would also work well in soup.
As always, it’s important to get the best ingredients possible when you make this salad. It shouldn’t be too difficult to find really good tomatoes and corn at this time of year. Finding the best ingredients will take this salad from “meh” to amazing.
Even though I followed McFadden’s directions almost to the letter, I did take some diversions. The original farro recipe calls for soaking the scallions in ice water and then draining and rinsing them. This seemed like a good idea but I couldn’t bring myself to add the extra step into the recipe. I might force myself to do it next time though because scallions are very pungent and running them under cold water would temper the flavor.
Also, I bought pre-shredded Pecorino Romano cheese, but I guess everyone does that.
Most salad tastes disgusting on day two but this salad is an exception. It actually gets better after a night sitting in the fridge. I brought the leftovers for lunch on Monday and Tuesday and I was floored. I couldn’t believe that it was getting better with time.
Here’s a song to get you started on your summer corn and tomato salad journey. My sister just introduced me to it yesterday when we were driving back from the park.
Summer Corn and Tomato Salad (slightly adapted from “Six Seasons”)
for the croutons:
4 oz of sourdough bread
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
salt and ground black pepper
for the salad:
3 cups cooked and cooled farro
2 cups croutons
1 bunch scallions, trimmed on an angle
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
4 ears sweet corn, husked
1 handful of fresh mint leaves
1 handful fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup shredded Pecorino Romano
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tsp dried chile flakes
salt and ground black pepper
extra-virgin olive oil (good quality)
First, make the croutons. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Tear the bread with the crust on into bite-size pieces. Toss the bread with the olive oil and a little salt and pepper.
Spread the croutons on a baking sheet, making sure that they’re in an even layer. Bake until they’re golden brown, checking every five minutes or so and moving them around so they bake evenly. They’re done when you try one and it’s not completely hard; it should still be a little soft in the center. Total baking time is around 15 minutes.
Place the croutons on a layer of paper towels to absorb excess oil and season with more salt and pepper. If you want, you can double this recipe and save half the croutons in an airtight container for other salads or soups.
Then, make the salad. Place the farro in the bottom of a big bowl and toss in the croutons. Then, toss in the scallions, cherry tomatoes, and corn kernels. You can husk the corn straight into the bowl, allowing some of the juice from the corn cobs to get into the salad. Toss in the mint and basil leaves and the shredded cheese. Then toss in the vinegar, chile flakes, salt and pepper to taste, and a glug of olive oil.
Store the leftover salad in a sealed container in the fridge. Enjoy!