Corn. Corn sounds...wholesome. Nutritious. A worthwhile part of any home-cooked, country meal. Corn on the cob, creamy corn, cornbread...if you're going to a wintertime party, shouldn't you bring a corn dish?
That briefly flashed through my mind while I scrambled, two hours before the Christmas party mentioned in my last blog, to find some quick dishes to bring. I had four tomatoes sitting on the counter, begging to be used. They had been tauntingly sitting out on the cutting board for days, and I believe they were using some kind of weird veggie telepathy to scream at me: Cut me! Use me! Eat me! Before I go to waste! Desperate to silence the wilting tomatoes, I went on AllRecipes to find a quick recipe that would use all the tomatoes without me having to run out to the grocery store to find more ingredients. I stumbled on a few variations of a tomato and corn salad, and after reviewing them, finally selected this one as my recipe.
I didn't have frozen corn, but I did have canned kernels, which I knew would work just fine (and they did). Here is what confused me about the recipe, though: hot or cold? According to the website, you are supposed to mix corn that has been heated in the microwave (I didn't microwave mine, by the way--I heated them in a pot of water on the stove) with Italian salad dressing (usually refrigerated if it's already been opened, right?), tomatoes (even if they're room temperature, they're still not warm), basil, and salt. Room temperature dishes, especially ones involving corn kernels, are pretty yucky. But I wasn't comfortable heating the tomatoes and Italian dressing. So, after stirring in a hefty amount of basil, along with herbs de provence, black pepper, salt, oregano, Italian seasoning, and just a small dash of cilantro, I popped that bowl in the refrigerator and left it there until we made our very fashionably late entry to the party.
The dish was awesome. My seasoning additions, and the large amount of basil I used, made it anything but bland. And chilled, the cooked corn kernels and chopped tomatoes were very scrumptious beside each other. The problem?
This was a Christmas party.
Approach your creative salads with caution when the weather turns cold. Partygoers probably would have preferred a warm soup (or perhaps even this same dish warmed) after taking off their snow-covered coats--not a chilled salad. If you tire of the normal McDonald's-style salad, substitute lettuce with spinach and offer your guests a different dressing--but avoid the crazy "alternative salads" like this one. You see, this summer, I made so many unusual versions of salads, rarely using lettuce or ranch or any other common mainstays, that I have to come to embrace and enjoy any spicy substitute to the typical cucumber and crouton mixture. Although this was extremely delicious, I won't make it again for guests until at least the spring. And hopefully if I prepare food for any more parties, I'll keep the food as warm as those summers we miss.
And by the way, if anyone makes this warm...Let me know how it turns out!!