Last week I was stuck in hellish rush hour traffic, my stomach growling, daydreaming about all the vegetables I got at the farmers market the night before. Heirloom tomatoes, baby eggplant, white corn, and basil. In my mind, I visualized the way I would combine these ingredients. Grill the corn and eggplant, slice the tomatoes, make a basil vinaigrette. Finish with fresh goat cheese. When I (finally) got home, it took me about 15 minutes to throw this together, and it was a perfect late lunch for a hot summer day.
Grilled Summer Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes and Basil vinaigrette
2 ears of corn, shucked
6 baby eggplants, halved lengthwise
1 large heirloom tomato, cut into thick slices
1/2 small red onion, sliced in paper-thin half moons
1 small garlic clove
1 handful fresh basil
juice of 1 or 2 lemons
pinch red pepper flakes
coarse salt and pepper
3 tblsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus a few tblsp for grilling
1 oz fresh goat cheese
1. Preheat a grill to medium-high heat. Rub corn and eggplant with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill the corn until it is charred in spots. Grill the eggplant until it’s tender yet firm, flipping them halfway through. This will take about 8 to ten minutes. Let the vegetables cool slightly.
2. In the meantime, in a food processor, spin the garlic with a pinch of salt. Add the red pepper flakes, basil, and salt and pepper to taste. Puree until finely chopped. Add the lemon juice. With the machine running, add the extra-virgin olive oil in a slow steady stream.
3. When cool enough to handle, cut the corn from the cob with a sharp knife. Toss with a tablespoon of the vinaigrette. On a serving plate, lay out the tomato slices, top them with the eggplant, the corn and the sliced red onion. Drizzle the remaining vinaigrette over the salad. Crumble fresh goat cheese over the top and finish with a crack of black pepper.