Every now and then I do a cooking class or cook for small dinner parties and a version of this salad has happened a handful of times lately. It's not so much that it's a life changing combination of ingredients, as it is an example of how I build a green salad in general. A friend called it "my spiritual gift" so I suppose I may be in the field I was made to be in. I start with greens, often mixing lettuces for monochromatic shades of green (kale and romaine, arugula and butter lettuce etc.). I add another fresh, seasonal vegetable (here, shaved fennel), something sweet (here, both corn and roasted tomatoes), crunch and fat (nuts and cheese). I also keep color and texture in mind, using my mandoline frequently for raw vegetables because a huge chunk of carrot throws off the loveliness and ease in eating a green salad. Dressings are a wild card but this is where I can tie things together. Maybe it only needs oil and vinegar and salt if there is plenty going on or kale slaws can handle something extra lemony. I like heat with corn and tomatoes so I threw a jalapeno into an otherwise basic vinaigrette below. I add a sprinkle of parmesan for depth of flavor and to thicken it up a bit but it by no means tastes super Italian. Perhaps this all makes more sense in my head than written but I feel like once you have a general proportion you like, you can make a great salad with whatever is in your fridge. Sometimes it's helpful to start with a recipe, so tweak the one below however you'd like.
ROASTED TOMATO + CORN SALAD // Serves 4
I understand roasting the tomatoes takes some time, but I do a double batch in advance and have them on hand for both salads and eggs. You could substitute ripe peaches or nectarines here, as they can stand in for your tender and sweet element (I also love this salad from the archives while we're talking nectarines). I have been really into pine nuts lately but am bummed they have become so pricey. You could sub in almonds or walnuts here.
1 pint baby tomatoes
2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
pinch of salt and fresh ground pepper
1 head of butter lettuce
1 small fennel bulb, shaved thin
1 ear of corn, grilled and cooled
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts
4 ounces sheeps feta cheese
// jalapeno dressing //
handful of cilantro
1 clove garlic
1 tsp. honey
1 Tbsp. grated parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp. white wine vinegar
juice of half a small lemon
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Preheat the oven to 350' and line a baking sheet with parchment. Halve the tomatoes and toss them in the olive oil, salt and pepper. If they aren't good ones, you know the type, I'll sprinkle a bit of sugar. Spread them on the baking sheet cut side up and roast for 20-25 minutes until dried on the edges. Remove to cool completely. They will dry up more as they rest.
Blend all dressing ingredients together and set aside. The dressing can be made up to a week in advance. The remaining salad ingredients are written prepped, so from this point, you just need to dress and assemble. Because butter lettuce leaves are larger, this salad plates best with the lettuce and fennel being dressed, and then the tomatoes, corn, pine nuts and feta cheese sprinkled on top of each portion. This prevents all the heavier goodies from falling to the bottom.