Mint and basil and lime, oh my. This simple trio of summer flavors adds a nifty punch to a super easy salad featuring sweet summer corn and cherry tomatoes. I served a big bowl of it to my book club over the summer, and my book-loving amigos inhaled it, then insisted I send them the recipe. Stat. It’s inspired by a dish found in one of my favorite cookbooks - What Katie Ate on the Weekend - and underscores all I love about Australian food - simple, fresh, bright flavors.
I’ve been sitting on a trove of memories and recipes from my “Grown-up Gap Year”, and it’s time to start sharing them. (Yes, I started to share in February, but this time I mean it.) What is a “Grown-Up Gap Year” you may ask? Last year I had the opportunity to accompany my husband on a few international trips for his work, so what started as asking for a few weeks off evolved into leaving my job for the entire school year. I decided to spend the year exploring a dreamy, crazy list of places I’d had on my list forever. Hey, my nest is sorta empty and we had a lot of frequent flyer miles. I went on adventures with my parents to the Caribbean, my son to Athens and Jerusalem, and my daughter in Mexico City. The whole family celebrated my husband’s 60th birthday in South Africa. I visited college friends in Milwaukee, my brother in Chicago, and dear friends in Melbourne and Mumbai. I spent time with my cousin and my parents in Florida, and explored Tasmania. My husband and I did big hiking trips in New Zealand and the Balkans - Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Montenegro. I gave my passport a workout, depleted the stash of frequent flyer miles (and my bank account) and had the time of my life. Carpe Diem (or, for you millenials, #YOLO?)
I’ll be skipping around in recounting my memories and recipes. Let’s start in the foodie paradise known as Prahran Market in Melbourne, Australia. My friend Fiona shops there all the time, the lucky duck. I find it fascinating that while markets the world over have essentially the same vendors - butchers and cheese mongers and bakers and fruit and veg sellers - each has their own vastly different vibe. At Prahran, I zeroed in on the gorgeous coffee shops and pastries, marveled at the serious Asian and Greek influences everywhere, ogled the gorgeous Aussie flowers. Fiona had to drag me out of a magical kitchen shop called the Essential Ingredient. I got a little lost in the cookbook section, then couldn’t get over the towers of posh tinned duck and goose fat. I was particularly taken with the gorgeous salads displayed in various cafes and delis all over the complex. My salad game has definitely improved since my Australian wanders.
Everywhere I went, I wanted to bring some of those flavors and memories back to my own kitchen to share with my friends and family.. As I’m back to the rhythm of the school year, I’ve been cooking more, and have been eager to start sharing these recipes and memories on this (much neglected) blog. So here we go...
Corn, Cherry Tomato, Mint, and Basil Salad with Lime Dressing
Adapted from a recipe found in What Katie Ate on the Weekend, by Katie Quinn Davies
Serves 6-8 as a side dish
4 ears of corn, husked and silks removed
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved (By all means, mix up the tomato varieties - red, yellow, pear, grape - all would work beautifully. )
6 scallions, trimmed and finely sliced
1 large handful mint, julienned
1 large handful basil, julienned
1/2 - 3/4 cup crumbled goat cheese
1/4 - 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
Finely grated zest and juice of one lime
1 tablespoon olive oil + 2 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Grill the corn: Turn on the grill and let it heat up for about 5 minutes. Brush the corn with a bit of olive oil, then place the corn on the grill, close the cover and grill for 15 to 20 minutes, turning every 5 minutes, or until kernels are tender.
Remove the corn from the grill and let cool. Stand the cobs on one end of a cutting board and, using a sharp knife, carefully slice off all the kernels and place in a large bowl.
Add the tomatoes, scallions, mint, basil, goat cheese and walnuts.
Whisk together the lime zest, juice and olive oil in a small bowl and season to taste. Drizzle the dressing over the salad and gently toss to coat.