Summer greens, buttery sweet corn, sautéed garlic & shallots, crispy fried polenta, fresh basil, & succulent cherry tomatoes with a honey balsamic drizzle. It's the perfect dish to celebrate the end of summer.
Fresh, buttery sweet corn on the cob & juicy ripe tomatoes were a quintessential part of growing up in Indiana. This recipe is a personal homage to my family & the dinners we spent around the table enjoying the produce from our garden.
Summer Greens FAQs
What summer greens should I use?
I use a mix of baby spinach and arugula because I like a the balance neutral flavor from the spinach and bitterness from the arugula-- but this recipe works with any greens you have in your garden. A mix of green and dark purple greens would make for an even more beautiful dish!
When is sweet corn in season?
Sweet corn is in season in the United States in June-August, but particularly in mid-to-late August, depending on where you live. Here in Connecticut, we were able to find local sweet corn by the end of July. My suggestion is to wait until late summer when you can buy it grown locally where you live. *Bonus points if you buy it out of the back of a pick-up truck or from a roadside farmstand!
Is polenta gluten-free?
Yes, polenta is gluten-free. It is made with ground corn and does not form gluten when mixed with water. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, and rye. However, if you have Celiac's disease or are highly sensitive to gluten, look for corn meal specifically labeled "Gluten-Free" to avoid any potential cross-contact with gluten during manufacturing.
Can I prep the polenta cakes ahead of time?
Yes! If you're looking to save time, it's easy to prep the polenta a day or two ahead of time and refrigerate. There will likely be excess moisture on the polenta cakes, so be sure to pat the cakes dry with a paper towel before pan-frying to prevent the oil from spattering.
My polenta is gooey, even after setting. What happened?
If the polenta doesn't cook long enough, it won't set properly when cooling. Therefore, it is very important to make sure you cook the polenta for the full cooking time on the package.
You can tell when it's fully cooked when the polenta starts to pull away from the bottom of the pot while whisking. If the polenta is fully cooked, it won't take more than an hour at room temperature to fully set.
Shallot vs. garlic: what's the difference?
While shallots and garlic are both members of the allium family, they have very different flavors and purposes. I've always thought of shallots as a cross between garlic and red onion, but more mild and sweet, especially when cooked.
Shallots are a beautiful light purple color and have layers like an onion, but are smaller in size. I typically use them in salad dressings, soups, and chutneys, but they're versatile for both cooked and raw purposes. I used shallots in this summer greens recipe because they add color and a more well-rounded flavor to the sweet corn topping.
Garlic has a much stronger, potent flavor that I absolutely LOVE, which is why it's also included in this dish. However, it is important not to cook garlic too long. If it burns, it turns bitter and ruins the flavor of the entire dish.
The Dietitian's Nutrient Notes
Add a protein. If you're looking to turn this summer greens salad into a full meal, I'd suggest adding a source of protein to balance out your macronutrients. Looking to keep it vegetarian? Add white beans to the corn mixture when you're pan-frying it. If you're feeling decadent, add a ball of buratta.
Grilled chicken is a classic addition to a summer salad, and if you're looking to add seafood, I'd suggest scallops or shrimp, pan-fried in salted butter & garlic.
Vegetable Servings. According to the USDA's Dietary Guidelines, women should consume 2-3 cups of vegetables per day and men should consume 3-4 cups of vegetables per day.
Eating this salad provides you with 1.5 servings of non-starchy vegetables (2 cups of leafy greens = 1 cup of vegetables) and ½ serving of starchy vegetables.
Summer Greens Bonus Tips
1) Prep the polenta cakes ahead of time. They're super easy to prep, which makes cooking dinner even faster later!
2) Soak or wash the pot & whisk from the polenta right away. Do yourself a favor and soak them in warm, soapy water. The polenta dries hard, making it difficult to get pots & utensils clean.
3) Experiment with fruit. Adding fresh peaches, nectarines, or figs on the side would be a divine addition to this salad!
4) Garlic bread pairs well with EVERYTHNG. Try making garlic bread on the grill with a baguette and this Hazelnut Basil Pesto Butter.
There's really no better way to celebrate the end of summer than with these summer greens & a Berry Watermelon Mojito. What could possibly beat sweet corn fried with salted butter butter (and garlic, and shallots)? Nothing!
All my love & a little butter,
Olivia Sokolowska, MBA, RD
If you're looking for more salad recipes, check out my Polish Cucumber Salad or Honeynut Squash Kale Salad.
Summer Greens with Sweet Corn & Crispy Polenta
Summer greens, buttery sweet corn, crispy fried polenta, & juicy cherry tomatoes with a honey balsamic drizzle. End of summer perfection.
- 2 cups chicken stock
- ½ cup yellow corn meal, uncooked
- 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup smoked gouda cheese, shredded
- Olive oil spray
- 2 tablespoon avocado oil (for frying)
Sweet corn topping
- 6 cloves garlic
- 1 large shallot
- 2-3 ears fresh sweet corn, raw (2 cups total)
- 4 tablespoon salted butter
- 8 cups leafy greens
- 20 large basil leaves
- 24 cherry tomatoes, halved
Honey Balsamic Drizzle
- 2 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
Prep the Polenta
1. Bring 1 cup of chicken stock to a boil. In a bowl, mix dry corn meal and the remaining 1 cup of chicken stock with a fork until there are no lumps. (*Note: It's important not to add the dry corn meal directly to the boiling stock. Doing so will result in lumpy polenta.)
2. Once the chicken stock is boiling, pour in the stock/cornmeal mixture. Whisk for 2-3 minutes until the polenta is the consistency of apple sauce.
3. Turn the heat down to low and whisk in granulated garlic and salt. Continue whisking for the next 5 minutes, until the polenta starts to pull away from the bottom of the pot. (*Note: This step is important. The polenta must cook long enough or it won't set properly when cooled.)
4. Once the polenta is fully cooked, whisk in shredded gouda cheese and stir until completely melted.
5. Spray a 9" baking pan with olive oil spray. Use a rubber spatula to transfer the polenta to the pan & tilt the pan to spread evenly.
6. Let the polenta cool on the counter for an hour or place in the refrigerator to cool faster.
Prep the Veg & Drizzle
7. Mince the garlic & shallots, cut the corn off the cob, and set aside. Halve the cherry tomatoes & set aside.
8. Place 2 cups of greens on each plate and top with 5 basil leaves, sliced into ribbons.
9. In a small bowl, whisk together honey and balsamic vinegar. Set aside.
Pan Fry the Polenta & Corn
10. Heat the avocado oil in a heavy-bottomed pan (I use a cast iron skillet.) on medium-high heat.
11. Using a 2" round biscuit or cookie cutter, cut out 16 rounds of polenta. Pat dry with a paper towel and place carefully into the hot pan. Fry until golden brown on each side.
12. Once the polenta is golden brown and crispy, remove the rounds from the pan and set them aside. Turn the stove down to medium and melt the butter in the pan.
13. Once the butter has melted, add in the corn, shallots, and garlic. Season with salt & cracked pepper and cook until the shallots are translucent.
Assemble the Salad
14. Top the greens with ½ cup of the corn mixture, tomatoes, 4 crispy polenta rounds, a drizzle of the balsamic honey, and a dash of cracked sea salt. Enjoy hot!
*Serving Size: Each salad has 2 cups leafy greens, 4 crispy polenta rounds, ½ cup corn topping, and 6 halved cherry tomatoes.
*Polenta can be prepped & chilled up to 2 days ahead of time.
Serving Size1 salad
Amount Per Serving Calories 325Total Fat 22gSaturated Fat 9.5gSodium 500mgCarbohydrates 28gFiber 2.6gSugar 3gProtein 7g
Please note that nutrition information is a computer-generated estimate and should not be interpreted as a registered dietitian's advice. Nutrition facts calculations vary based on brands, products, and serving sizes.
Did you try this recipe? Share your thoughts!