This simple salad from the Food Network is a perfect example. You could make it at any time of year, using grocery store potatoes, hothouse tomatoes and frozen corn, and it would taste perfectly fine. But when you use new potatoes from the farmer’s market, corn that was just picked that day, and tomatoes that are still warm from the sunny container garden on the deck, it’s sublime.
No matter when you make it, though, fresh basil is a must. The original recipe calls for whole leaves, but we prefer to slice the basil a bit, releasing some of the oils to create a more aromatic dish. A chef’s technique is to cut basil leaves in “chiffonade.” Wash them, pat them dry, remove any stems you don’t want, and then roll the bunch of leaves into a cylinder. Then use a sharp knife to cut into slices. This will result in thin, uniform strips, and release a lot of the aromatic oils.
1 pound baby red potatoes, scrubbed
5 medium ears of corn (about 3 pounds)
1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved lengthwise
1 small red onion, peeled and sliced thinly (about 1/2 to 3/4 cup)
1 large bunch fresh basil, rinsed, dried, and leaves picked (whole or sliced – see note above)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 large lemons, juiced
1 teaspoon kosher salt
About 15 grinds freshly ground pepper
Place the potatoes in a large pot of salted water and bring to boil. Cook until just fork tender, about 15 minutes. Fish out the potatoes with a slotted spoon and place them in a bowl of ice cold water to stop them from cooking.
Shuck the corn and break each ear in half. Cook in the same boiling water for 5 to 7 minutes until tender but not soft. Remove the cooled potatoes to a dish-cloth to drain. Immerse corn in the same ice bath until cool. Cut each potato into quarters and place in a large bowl.
Remove corn from water and also let drain. Use a chef’s knife to cut the kernels off each ear. Add kernels to bowl.
Add tomatoes, onion, and basil leaves. Add olive oil and lemon juice and toss gently to combine. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.