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Corn and Tomato Salad

Don’t let summer end without a sweet fresh corn and tomato salad. Add quinoa to make it a satisfying vegetarian main dish. Easy, quick and versatile with whatever you have on hand. 

I love this salad when corn and tomatoes are at their peak. I had some beautiful heirloom tomatoes from a friend’s garden that I wanted to use.  And fresh corn is widely available here in Toronto now. But these days, you can get pretty decent produce, in one form or another, outside harvest time.

Corn and tomato salad with quinoa in bowl f

Similar to most of our recipes, you can tailor the corn tomato salad to your tastes with whatever you have available. There are even options for the corn. Grilling the corn steps it up a notch, but it’s totally optional. 

Corn and tomato salad is a fantastic last minute or easy pot luck dish. You can make it in as little as 10 minutes (or 20 if you are grilling the corn).

Two basic variations for corn tomato salad

  1. Vegetarian side dish: Keep the salad super simple with just corn, tomatoes and perhaps avocado. This version keeps the focus on the corn and tomatoes. Serve it beside any protein or even as a topping for burgers or in a wrap.
  2. Vegetarian main dish: Turn the salad into a healthy, more substantial main dish by adding quinoa. The quinoa boosts the protein and fiber and is a good source of minerals.

Both variations are gluten free.

What are my corn choices?

The first option is to use fresh corn on the cob. You can grill, microwave or boil it. Or use it raw! Yes, sweet corn does not have to be cooked. You can even eat it straight off the cob (only sweet corn, not field or yellow corn). This is a great shortcut that delivers big crunchy texture.

The second option is to use frozen corn. A great option when corn is not in season. And a big time saver. No need to cook it. Just thaw under running cold water.

If you choose the raw corn route, it’s best to get the corn at peak season in a farmer’s market.  This article on eating raw corn has some excellent tips and tricks.

How can I tell when corn on the cob is ripe

  • The ears will feel heavy for their size (which means plump juiciness)
  • The husk should be bright green and slightly damp. Yellow, brown or dry husks means the corn is not very fresh.
  • When you peel back the husk a bit, the kernels will be creamy yellow or white, firm, plump and not shriveled.

Tailor To Your Taste

I like to keep things pretty simple to allow the corn and tomatoes to shine. Nevertheless, rummage in your fridge and see what will work. Here are a few possibilities.

  • Corn: fresh corn on the cob. Or frozen corn. You can use canned corn, but I think fresh or frozen are best.
  • Tomatoes: Any fresh ripe tomatoes will be great – field, heirloom, cherry tomatoes, San Marzano.
  • Quinoa: Use it or not – up to you. Or substitute the quinoa with cooked barley, couscous, Israeli couscous, chickpeas. Even orzo would work well.
  • Herbs: I use fresh basil and cilantro, but other good options are chives and parsley
  • Vinaigrette: The one in the recipe is basic. Many others will work such as lime or cilantro dressing. If your corn is very sweet (as so much genetically modified corn is these days), I wouldn’t add sugar.
  • Add-ins: I use avocado and green onion. Other good options are: black beans (extra fiber and nutrition), queso fresco (for saltiness and protein), tofu (good protein), seeded cucumber or peppers (for crunch), red onion. For a non vegetarian version, try adding shrimp. 

Shortcuts

  • Use frozen corn instead of fresh corn on the cob.
  • Use a good store bought vinaigrette.

Make Ahead

  • The corn and tomato salad is best if it sits around for an hour or two to blend the flavors. So it’s a great make ahead or pot luck dish.
  • You can even make it up to 2-3 days ahead, but I suggest leaving out the fresh herbs until closer to serving time. This way they won’t wilt.

Similar salads you can try

ears of corn, tomatoes, cilantro, green onions, basil leaves, avocado. vinaigrette dressing
Corn on the cob, tomatoes, cilantro, green onions, basil leaves, avocado and vinaigrette dressing
2 cobs of corn on grill
Grill corn for 8-10 minutes. Or look in the recipe for other options.
cutting kernals off cob of corn with knife
Slice corn kernels off cobs.
Corn, chopped tomatoes, chopped avocado, chopped herbs and quinoa in bowl
Make quinoa (if using) and chop other ingredients for salad. Put everything in a bowl with the corn.
Corn, chopped tomatoes, chopped avocado, chopped herbs and quinoa in bowl mixed together in bowl
Add vinaigrette and toss together. This version is a simple corn and tomato salad with avocado and herbs (no quinoa).

Corn and tomato salad with quinoa on glass plate

Corn and tomato salad with quinoa in bowl p

Corn and tomato salad with quinoa in bowl f
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Corn and Tomato Salad

Don't let summer end without a sweet fresh corn and tomato salad. Add quinoa to make it a satisfying vegetarian main dish. Easy, quick and versatile with whatever you have on hand. 
Prep Time20 mins
Chill time1 hr
Total Time1 hr 20 mins
Course: Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Vegetarian
Servings: 4 -5 sides (2 mains)
Author: Cheryl, Two Kooks In The Kitchen

Ingredients

Salad ingredients (Note 1 for options)

  • 1 1/2 cups corn niblets (fresh or frozen) Note 2 about 2 large ears of corn
  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes 1/2 lb/225 g tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoon chopped green onion 1 large or 2 small
  • 1/2 avocado, diced
  • 2 tablespoon chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
  • optional add-ins: queso fresco cheese, tofu, black beans, chili flakes,

For quinoa (optional)

  • 1/2 cup dry quinoa
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

For vinaigrette dressing

  • 1 clove garlic minced 1 tsp
  • 2 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar or white wine vinegar or lemon juice
  • 3 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon each, salt and pepper

Instructions

  • HEAT GRILL TO MEDIUM HIGH (if using for corn Note 2)
  • MAKE QUINOA (if using): Rinse quinoa in a mesh strainer. Place in small pot with 3/4 cups water and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to simmer. Cover and cook 15 minutes. Turn off heat and let it sit for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork. and let the quinoa cool a bit. 
  • GRILL CORN (Note 2 for options): Place cobs directly on grill. Grill for 8-10 minutes, turning every few minutes to get char marks on kernels. No need for them all to be brown. To slice off kernels, stand corn up tall in a bowl, slice down with a knife close to the cob. Do this all the way around the cob. It's easiest when it's cooked. Here's a video on how to cut corn off the cob.
  • MAKE DRESSING/VINAIGRETTE: Whisk all ingredients together in a small measuring cup or bowl. Taste and adjust to your liking - more vinegar, salt etc. Add 1/4 tsp chili flakes for heat if desired.
  • ASSEMBLE SALAD: Place all salad ingredients in a serving bowl. If using quinoa, add all of vinaigrette dressing. If not using quinoa, use 1 -1 1/2 tbsp. Toss together. Make sure to taste and adjust the flavors as you like them. Chill or sit on counter for an hour to blend flavors if you have time. Note 3. Taste and adjust flavors again if needed.

Notes

  1. Salad ingredient options
    • Corn: fresh corn on the cob. Or frozen corn. You can use canned corn, but that would be my last choice.
    • Tomatoes: Any fresh ripe tomatoes will be great - field, heirloom, cherry tomatoes, San Marzano.
    • Quinoa: You can substitute the quinoa with cooked barley, couscous, Israeli couscous, chickpeas. Cook according to package directions.
    • Herbs: I use fresh basil and cilantro, but other good options are chives and parsley
    • Vinaigrette Dressing: The one in the recipe is basic. Many others will work such as lime or cilantro dressing. If your corn is very sweet (as so much genetically modified corn is these days), I wouldn't add sugar.
    • Add-ins: I use avocado and green onion. Other good options are: black beans (extra fiber and nutrition), queso fresco (for saltiness and protein), tofu (good protein), seeded cucumber or peppers (for crunch), red chili flakes (for heat), red onion. For a non vegetarian version, try adding shrimp. 
  2. Corn cooking options:
    • Corn on the cob
      • To grill - as per recipe above
      • To boil - bring pot of water to boil. Add corn on cob. Lower to medium. Boil gently for 3-4 minutes. Drain and run under cold water for a minute to stop the cooking. 
      • To microwave - rinse corn and place on plate. Cover with moistened paper towel. Microwave on high for 4 minutes. 
      • No cook - You can use raw corn, but make sure to use sweet corn (preferably in season from farmer's market), not field or yellow corn. 
    • Frozen corn (good shortcut)
      • Rinse frozen corn niblets in strainer under cool water until defrosted. Drain. No need to cook it. 
  3. Make Ahead
    • The corn and tomato salad is best if it sits around for 1-2 hours to blend the flavors. So it's a great make ahead or pot luck dish. 
    • You can even make it up to 2-3 days ahead, but I suggest leaving out the fresh herbs until closer to serving time. This way they won't wilt so much.
Nutrition values are estimates and do not include optional add-ins. 

Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
Corn and Tomato Salad
Amount Per Serving
Calories 279 Calories from Fat 144
% Daily Value*
Fat 16g25%
Saturated Fat 2g13%
Sodium 499mg22%
Potassium 448mg13%
Carbohydrates 31g10%
Fiber 5g21%
Sugar 5g6%
Protein 6g12%
Vitamin A 231IU5%
Vitamin C 10mg12%
Calcium 32mg3%
Iron 2mg11%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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