There are some recipes that have the power to transform the way you conceive of yourself as a cook. At least that’s how I went from someone who cooked out of necessity to someone who cooks well. You’d think these moments happen around the mastery of hard techniques in the kitchen, but I think it’s the moments when we take ownership of the simple everyday skills that make the difference. How to salt an ingredient well, how to brown meat so it forms a golden crust and instantly releases from the pan, how to quickly chop a carrot into perfect, regular ovals—these skills have each bolstered my confidence and given me a little kick to move on, to learn more, and to feel good about my work in the kitchen.
This recipe is a prime example of one of those essential skills: how to courageously combine ingredients. The unexpected partnership of raw corn and stone fruit is perfect, and it’s one of those ideal dishes that takes 5 minutes to put together and seems to surprise and delight everyone who eats it. A version of this recipe lives in my second book, and it is still, to date, one of my very favorite recipes. The concepts at work here—good produce combined in an unexpected but simple way to create something so much more than the sum of its parts—really were the inspiration for this whole book, and I had to bring this one back to take its place among these recipes. This is a broader form of the recipe, with more choices and a good level of heat from the jalapeño.
- Yield: 4 Servings
- 5 ears of corn
- 2 ripe nectarines or peeled peaches, pitted and cut into bite-size pieces
- ¼ cup thinly sliced scallions (2 to 3 scallions, using all the white and half the green parts)
- ¼ cup thinly sliced fresh basil or roughly chopped fresh cilantro
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (1 lime)
- Husk the corn and then cut the kernels right into a serving bowl. (There’s a simple tool that removes kernels without slicing them that I keep around just for corn season, but you can also use a knife, taking care not to cut directly through all the kernels.)
- Be sure to catch the corn milk in the bowl as well. Add the nectarines, scallions, basil, salt, several grinds of pepper, and the jalapeño to the bowl with the corn. Drizzle the lime juice over the salad and stir gently to combine.