Corn and Zucchine Salad with Feta

One of the many things I love about the neighborhood I live in -- you can read more about it here -- is the Mercato Trionfale, a truly vast and very impressive market located about a 10 minute walk from my apartment. On Saturdays, I tote my nonna-esque trolley (pictured below, the colorful dog pattern was the selling point) to M.T, and stock up cheese, fruit, veg, and bread, plus the freshest of eggs (perfect for making pasta) and if I'm in the mood, a slice of pizza, or a piece of crostata or two.
Shopping at the market is one of those very Italian sort of things that one experiences living here -- up there with the sight of laundry fluttering on the clothesline, a glass of Prosecco on an apartment terrace with a view, an espresso consumed standing at the crowded neighborhood bar in the morning -- and it's one of the things I love most about the weekend. A few photos taken during my latest trip, just because:

I was a blogger with a mission on last week's trip to Mercato Trionfale, happy to browse and pick up whatever caught my eye -- the market is brimming with A+ eggplant, tomatoes, basil, watermelon, and cherries now -- but mainly there for peak-of-the-season corn in all its pale green-golden splendor. Growing up in the U.S we ate corn grilled (charred and smoky and sweet) or boiled, slathered with butter and sprinkled with salt (just dreamy) and it's a vegetable that is synonymous with summer for me, nostalgic. While corn doesn't play such a large role in Italian cuisine -- the closest we come is polenta, I think -- I still cook with it every summer, bringing a little bit of Rhode Island to my kitchen here in Rome. Mercato Trionfale has just a few stalls selling pannocchie di mais -- corn on the cob -- and after a few strolls around the market (where were they?!) I found them, happily grabbed a few of the best looking ears to stow safely away in my trolley, and then commenced the difficult job of deciding what I wanted to cook with them.

I contemplated making corn pancakes, breakfast-paradise when served with a pat of butter and lots of syrup, I imagined, or an American-ish corn and bacon pasta, or a creamy corn risotto, but in the end, opted for this simple corn and zucchini salad, and I have 0 regrets. Now: this is not you average, pile of lettuce salad, but rather something truly craveable, delicious, a fall-in-love at first bite sort of dish. The corn here was spectacular -- a bit of a show off, marvelously sweet and nearly candy-like-- perfect paired with zucchini, another summer M.V.P, here fresh and feather-light, beautiful combined with lots of bright basil and refreshing parsley and earthy zucchini flowers, and, well, since cheese makes everything better: a sprinkle (or two) of sharp, salty feta. I loved this dish, raved about it to anyone who would listen, and while I don't think of myself as a bossy person per say, I would very much advise that you go and make this, asap, with the freshest corn you can find. Just saying.

A couple of notes: I still have a little scar on my right thumb from the first and last time I attempted to use a mandoline (slicing fennel, for the record) and so I opted to use a vegetable peeler here to thinly slice the zucchine, which worked well and felt a little safer. This a pretty versatile salad; feel free to use goat cheese or even Parmesan in place of the feta, or feel free to leave the cheese out all together if you want a simple side or for some reason need to make this vegan. My sister tossed this all with orecchiette to make a very summer-y pasta salad - yum - and I recommend you try doing the same if you're so inclined.

Looking for other recipes with corn? I've got these corn fritters, this corn, tomato, and avocado salad, this corn, tomato, and zucchine pie, and these cornmeal blueberry pancakes. Looking for other recipes with zucchine? I have these stuffed zucchine, this spaghetti with zucchine, basil, and egg, this three-cheese zucchine tart.

From Bon Appetit Magazine. Serves 4.

Ingredients for the salad:
4 ears of the freshest corn you can find, husked
4 small zucchini (about 1 1/2 pounds), thinly sliced lengthwise on a mandoline or with a vegetable peeler 
1/4 cup (a good handful) coarsely chopped fresh basil 
1/4 cup (a good handful) coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley 
About 1 cup (4 ounces) feta cheese, crumbled 
8-10 zucchini blossoms, torn into large pieces (optional) 
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
Freshly ground black pepper 

Ingredients for the dressing:
1/3 cup (78mL) olive oil 
1/4 cup (59mL) white wine vinegar 

Whisk together the oil and vinegar, season with a little salt and pepper, and set aside. Next, cook the ears of corn in a large pot of boiling salted water until bright yellow and tender, about 3 minutes; transfer to a plate and let cool. 
Cut the kernels from the cobs and place in a large bowl. Add zucchini, zucchini blossoms (if using), basil, parsley, oil, vinegar, and red pepper flakes (if using) and toss to combine; taste and season with salt and pepper. Toss the salad with the olive oil and vinegar and tuck in. 


  1. I'm definitely making this! Great recipe for a hot SoCal day! Grazie!