When I was younger – which was at least 287 years ago – I spent some time in France. Like a lot of young folks, I stayed with a host family that lived in Poitiers. My months there were my first trip overseas, which was such an important trip to my folks because they never even had a passport. I got there all bright eyed and full of wonder. It was all so Bon Voyage Charlie Brown – the house with the big wood windows that opened up to countryside and a lake. My first meal there was a whole fish I was expected to de-bone without knowing how to do it and not knowing the words to ask for help. Mon dieu.
The time of year that I arrived there is when French families go on holiday – weeks of traveling around the country (in my family’s case, at least). We took several mini trips to see the architecture of Tours, drives through the country and some trips to the shore. On one of those trips to the water, to a town called La Rochelle, we picnicked for days. Eating a bit of cheese sitting on chairs outside of a camper that looked a bit like a canned ham. Baguette and butter and sips of wine (what) and sausages and some pieces of chocolate.
Today I made this salad – a salad I’ve made about 9,774 times in my lifetime – and these thoughts of France came back to me. One particular day, we went out on a boat tour in La Rochelle where there’s one particular spot at which point all of the structures in the water are perfectly aligned and you can see them all famously. Afterwards, we ate cold hot dogs and this corn salad out of take-out containers that was so insanely simple but, to me at the time, was revelatory. Raw corn, a bit of tomato, some onion and healthy glugs of red wine vinegar. I came back to the States and told my mom about that corn salad…and she started making it…and I started making it. It’s the thing I make when I can’t cook, when I want something crunchy, when corn is at its peak, when I need to feed a bunch of folks fast (and inexpensively), when I need to take something with me.
Corn and Tomato Picnic Salad – serves 4 as a filling side salad
There are probably half a million corn salad recipes on the Internet. This is mine. It’s probably the dish I’ve made most often in my life. Making it with crisp, fresh corn (whatever color you like) and ripe tomatoes is key. Outside of that, personalize it however you’d like. Trade out the oregano for basil or other herbs. In place of the feta, use another crumbly cheese you like – or keep it vegan and leave the dairy out. It’s just as good without it and lets you keep it at room temp without fretting about it too much.
– In a medium mixing bowl or plastic storage container, mix together the corn, tomatoes, red onion and oregano. Drizzle the mixture with vinegar & oil. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. If using, crumble the cheese on top. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes or so. If you don’t include the cheese, this salad will travel and keep at room temperature for a good while – just make sure it’s covered or sealed.
ps: this is the first time in the history of this blog that I’ve ever used a photo from my phone. this was a photo of my lunch today that I posted on Instagram…and I just loved it so much, I chose it over the DSLR shots I took afterwards. woo!