It has been said that California cuisine isn’t so much about cooking as it is about shopping. In summertime, this rule applies just about everywhere. And while the original shopping-not-cooking comment was meant as an insult, I’ve found it to be a helpful framework on which to hang many a meal. Buy the best ingredients, subject them to just the right combination of salt, lemon, and olive oil, and it’s hard to go wrong.

This approach describes my favorite summer salad to a T. If you’re going to a potluck this Fourth of July, I promise it will be a hit. But only if the corn is super fresh, as in picked-two-days-ago fresh.

Serves six as a side.


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1 pound of green beans
4 ears of corn
1 basket of cherry tomatoes (Sungolds are the best)
1 bunch of basil (leaves picked off the stems)
Olive oil
1 lemon (substitute a light vinegar if needed)
Salt and pepper


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  1. Place a large pot of salted water on the stove. While it boils, cut tips off green beans and slice in thirds, shuck the corn, and slice tomatoes in half.
  1. Once the water is boiling, blanch green beans for two minutes. Use a frying spoon to scoop them out into an ice water bath.
  1. Blanch the corn for one to two minutes, then place each cob in an ice water bath for two to three minutes until cool, before cutting the corn off the cob (I like to do this in a shallow bowl holding the cob upright).
  1. Make the sauce: With a food processor or blender, blend the basil, a decent-sized glug of olive oil, and a pinch of salt until smooth.
  1. Combine corn, green beans, and tomatoes in a bowl. Toss lightly with basil sauce then add lemon, salt, and pepper to taste. Serve as a side with your favorite grilled foods.