Fresh Corn, Tomato and Bean Salad


I came up with this salad last summer, but then forgot to post the recipe before the corn and tomato season was over. I almost did it again this year, but we still have a few weeks left before the summer’s bounty gives way to fall harvests.

When I developed the recipe, I was looking for a different salad to take to a barbecue. I wanted to use in-season vegetables and I wanted to make a dish that would hold up at room temperature for several hours. I started with the corn I had in the fridge, thinking while I cut the kernels off the cobs. Tomatoes were a given – we had a bowlful begging to be used. Lemon zest and juice provided a bit of a tang without taking over like vinegar might have. I added shallots, but caramelized them to soften and deepen their flavors.


I mixed and tasted and thought. The colors were there, with the red of the tomatoes and the yellow corn. The flavors were there, with the sweet corn and shallots, the bright lemon and the fruity tomatoes. The textures were there with the crunch of the corn and the soft tomatoes. But there was still something missing. I had a can of black beans. Dark, slightly salty, creamy beans. Color – check. Flavor – check. Texture – check. The beans were the key to bringing it all together.

Be sure to make the salad with in-season tomatoes. If you use insipid grocery store tomatoes they will look pretty, but they won’t add much to the dish. You want the tomatoes that smell like summer when you cut into them. The ones that make you realize that you were kidding yourself with tomatoes over the winter. The ones that make you say, “Yes, that is why I fight the deer and the squirrels to grow tomatoes.” The ones that make a trek to the farmer’s market worth it.

Download or print the recipe here.

Fresh Corn, Tomato and Bean Salad
From The Cook’s Life
Serves 8-10

This salad is fabulous with fresh corn cut off the cob. If you can’t get good corn, or don’t want to mess with cutting it off the cob, use the same amount of frozen corn – no need to thaw.

1-2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 medium shallot, diced
1½-2 cups fresh corn kernels, about 3 ears (see head note)
1 tablespoon water
1 large or 2 small tomatoes
1 15 oz. can black beans, low sodium preferred, drained and rinsed
1 lemon
cayenne (optional)
freshly ground black pepper

Heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a small frying pan over medium heat. When oil is hot, add shallot and reduce heat to medium low. You want to slowly caramelize the shallot, so lower the heat if necessary. Add another teaspoon of oil if shallot starts to stick. Prepare the rest of the salad while the shallot cooks.

Mix the corn with the tablespoon of water in a large microwave-safe bowl. Cover and microwave on high for 2 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Cut the tomatoes in half and use a spoon to scoop out the pulp and seeds. This will keep the salad from being too watery.

Dice tomatoes into pieces about the size of the kernels of corn. Add the diced tomato to the corn. Add the beans and the caramelized shallot. Zest the lemon and add it to the mixture. Toss gently to mix.

Juice the lemon into a small bowl or glass measuring cup. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and whisk to combine. Add cayenne and black pepper to taste. Pour dressing over the bean mixture and stir. Taste and add a touch of salt if necessary. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

This keeps for several days in the refrigerator.


11 thoughts on “Fresh Corn, Tomato and Bean Salad

  1. Hi Sarah, Got all the ingredients for your Chocolate Amaretto Ice Cream recipe and hope to make it this weekend. And this above recipe too, especially if we visit son in Ames this weekend. He likes this type of food.
    BTW, found my bottle of Pure Almond Extract, the price tag stated $1.09. Had it a l-o-o-g time & the contents had evaporated, wonder why! Got a new bottle for $3.69. Price shock!!
    Found this recipe & have made it 3 times. It reminds me of “Reese’s PB Cups”.
    EnJoy!! Have a great weekend.

    • Hope you enjoy both the ice cream and the salad! Wow, we go through almond extract almost as fast as we go through vanilla! And it is pricy!

      Thanks for the link! Those cookies look like a keeper – love the oats in them. They are going in the to-try pile!

      • Made the Chocolate Amaretto Ice Cream and it is good. Will make it again, someday, but need to find a smoother cocoa. Have you found Penzey’s to be better than Hersey’s?? Oh, and BTW, I only got about 24 oz. of ice cream. And the recipe stated 1 & 1/2 quarts. I really enjoyed the tomato, corn & bean salad.
        DH thought it a little tart, as in too much lemon. He has a sweet tooth that won’t quit eating sweets. Am glad you posted this recipe, so I could take advantage of the late season corn & tomato crops this year. I even bought extra corn for the freezer this year, which I normally don’t. The cookies I made Thursday night, which I got 2 & 1/2 dozen, are now down to 3 cookies. That’s alot of cookies for only 2 people! Gotta quit making them. 🙂

        • Glad you were happy with the salad, though sounds like your hubby wasn’t a fan. You could cut back on the lemon juice, or the lemon zest, or add a touch more oil if you want less lemon.

          As for the ice cream. I do like the Penzey’s cocoa better than Hershey’s, even though it is a little more expensive. We have been using only Penzeys’, unless we have a cocoa emergency, for several years.

          I”m sorry you only got 24 ounces of ice cream. I double checked the storage container I use and it is 1.5 quarts. My batch of ice cream fills it.

          I’m stumped. You started with 16 ounces (2 cups) of half and half, right? Was your mix cold enough? Was your ice cream maker cold enough and working properly? Was it really hot in the kitchen? Did the ice cream seem dense? I’m really sorry that it didn’t make the volume it was supposed to.

          That is certainly an endorsement of the cookies. Now I am almost afraid to make them!

          • We go to Madison, WI, Nov 10th and plan on a trip to Penzey’s for cocoa & other sundries. As to the ice cream, followed your recipe, my freezer temp is zero and my maker works just fine. After 20 minutes, the mix was like soft serve ice cream.
            I just bought a Cuisinart & this is the third time of use. So, maybe, I didn’t let it run long enough? I had a hard time scrapping the sides, as it was frozen hard on the surface. No big deal, just thought I’d let you know what happened.

            • I am stumped about the ice cream. I do mix mine closer to 25 minutes, but I can’t imagine it would increase in volume that much in five minutes. I do get a hard, frozen coating of ice cream on the sides of the bowl. I have a stiff plastic spatula that came with my food processor that I scrape that off with. It softens just fine and blends into the rest of the ice cream. I usually let the ice cream churn until it looks like it is trying to climb out of the bowl and the motor sounds different, not laboring, but different. Again, I’m sorry you didn’t get the volume of ice cream you should have. How was the texture?

              • Mine looked like it was ready to climb out too. Just not over the top. And, yes, the sound had changed, which made me think it was done, also. The texture is
                creamy smooth, and the taste reminded me of Chocolate ice cream from the ’60’s at my favorite ice cream shoppe! Which, by the way, still exists today.

              • I am still bothered that you didn’t get the volume you should have. I hate that I gave out a recipe that didn’t perform. I’m glad the texture and flavor were there, at least. Let me know if it works better if you try it again.

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