Roasted Corn Salad with basil oil
This simple corn salad was partially inspired by for the love of yum‘s lovely End of Summer Corn and Potato Salad with Red Chilies. Nadia’s post beautifully describes a drive from Toronto to Rhode Island, littered with tempting farm stands and fields upon fields of fresh corn, which encouraged her to dig out her fantastic corn salad recipe. Motivated by Nadia’s idea of celebrating the last few days of summer before fall, or autumn for that matter, takes hold, and the last of the season’s fresh produce, I visited a local pick your own farm.
I can’t be quite as poetic about the fields of corn that I saw at this particular farm, as, like most of this summer crop in Britain, they had been decimated by months of drought followed by months of constant rain. However, although the stalks of the plants were stunted, the ears of corn were glorious and I felt inspired to come up with a corn salad of my own.
three ears of corn, in their husks
300g cherry tomatoes
a generous handful of fresh basil leaves
three tablespoons of olive oil
a few chilli flakes
a little white wine vinegar
Firstly, preheat your oven to 170°C (fan oven)/ 180°C/ 350 Fahrenheit/ gas mark 4. Oven roasting corn, complete with their husks, means that the silken layers of leaves surrounding the ears, which are dampened before cooking, will cause the corn steam, bringing out it’s sweetness. If you want a little more texture and a roasted flavour, remove a few of the outer leaves from the husk, wash the corn and place it directly onto the bars of the preheated oven. If you want more of a soft texture and more of a sweet flavour, retain all of the leaves on the husk, which will steam the corn more than roasting it, and again wash it and place it directly onto the bars of the preheated oven. The baking will take twenty five to thirty five minutes, depending on how you like your corn cooking.
While the corn bakes, you can prepare the basil oil. Place the basil into a mortar, add a pinch of salt to help with grinding and then pound with a pestle to form a paste. Gradually add enough oil to create a pourable dressing. Alternatively, you could use fresh young oregano leaves in place of the basil. Next, slice the tomatoes in half, tip them into a serving dish and coat them in the basil oil.
Once baked, allow the corn to cool for a few minutes and then peel bake the leaves. For the salad, place the ears vertically and slice down to remove the corn kernels. Add the roasted kernels to the tomatoes, season to taste with chilli flakes, freshly milled pepper and a little salt and toss everything together. If your tomatoes are exceptionally sweet and ripe, which we rarely seem to get here in the UK, you might need to add a little white wine vinegar to balance out the sweetness of the corn. Top the salad with a little sliced basil and a few more drops of basil oil.