Fresh Corn, Tomato, Avocado and Basil Salad

Fresh corn, tomato, avocado and basil salad

While in the states for a vacation this summer, I took advantage of the overload of gorgeous heirloom tomatoes, fresh ears of corn, and generous bunches of basil at the farmers’ markets to make this salad over and over (and over and over) again. Romain agreed with me that we could eat this every day. And I think we did!

Fresh corn, tomato, avocado and basil salad

This salad doesn’t have a lot of ingredients – it simply showcases the best of the season. So it works best when everything is at their best, during the height of the season. Basil is great with the corn and tomatoes, and my friend Nick Malgieri supplied me with several bunches from his backyard garden which I kept in a small vase of water at room temperature, which is my favorite way to keep basil fresh.

Fresh corn, tomato, avocado and basil salad

In addition to my gifted basil, the tables at the greenmarkets in New York were loaded with beautiful tomatoes, all sorts of varieties, ripe for the picking. I added an avocado to the mix, which tends to add a little richness, and you can certainly vary the ingredients to your liking. Just before the recipe I’ve included some ideas in case you want to take the salad in other directions.

Fresh corn, tomato, avocado and basil salad

We took the salad to the beach, where it made great fare when picnicking on the sand. Once dressed, you can eat it right away, although it keeps well for a few hours afterward, too. For dinner, we’d have it by itself, sometimes with hard-cooked eggs and goat cheese crumbled over the top, and other times, alongside grilled chicken or fish. In fact, I can’t think of anything it doesn’t go with. It’s my favorite way of celebrating the best of summer – all in one bowl!

Fresh corn, tomato, avocado and basil salad

Fresh Corn, Tomato, Avocado and Basil Salad
Print Recipe
Four to six side salads
You can add other things to what I’ve suggested here: Raw peppers (sweet or hot), roasted peppers, scallions or diced red onion, or swap out another herb for the basil, such as flat leaf parsley, tarragon, dill, chives, or oregano, to taste. Coarsely chopped pitted olives would work well, either green or black, as does crumbled feta cheese or cubes of fried halloumi. If you want to make it a main course, bite-sized pieces of cooked chicken, crumbled bacon, shrimp, peeled hard-cooked eggs, or smoked tofu could be added. If you’ve got it, lobster or crab meat would be amazing. Although it’s not often discussed, one of the secrets to a good salad, especially one that has just a few ingredients, it a good extra-virgin olive oil. The country of origin, and the price, aren’t always indicators of good-quality. In the U.S., California Olive Ranch produces reliably good oil, as does Fairway in New York. A well-respected friend in the food business swears by the Greek olive oil at Trader Joe’s, and Costco’s Kirkland olive oil gets high marks from fans, too. As always, though, buy what tastes best to you. Update: A few people have inquired whether the corn is cooked or not, and it isn’t in this salad. Fresh, sweet corn is excellent raw. However if you do want to use cooked corn, I suggest grilling it, shucked and lightly oiled first, cooking it over a fire for 10-15 minutes, turning it infrequently to give it a bit of char so it has some texture, as well as additional flavor.
2-3 ears of fresh corn
2 cups (350g) cherry tomatoes (or 2 cups fresh tomatoes, diced)
1 ripe avocado
1/2 cucumber, peeled and seeded
1 cup (75g) loosely packed chopped fresh basil (reserve any small leaves for garnish)
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1-2 small shallots, peeled and minced (1-2 tablespoons)
1 teaspoon sea or kosher salt
6 tablespoons (90ml) extra-virgin olive oil
1. Shuck the corn and remove it from the cob. (Technique here.)
2. Remove any stems and slice the cherry tomatoes in half.
3. Peel the avocado, remove the pit, and dice the flesh. Cut the cucumber into similar sized cubes.
4. Put the corn kernels, tomatoes, avocado, cucumber, and basil into a serving bowl and season with freshly ground black pepper.
5. In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, mustard, shallots, salt, and olive oil. Pour the vinaigrette dressing over the salad and gently mix together. Taste, and add more salt and pepper if necessary.

Serving and storage: The dressed salad can be served right away or in a few hours. (It can be stored in the refrigerator or at room temperature, but should be served room temperature.) It’s best the same day it’s made.

Note: Fresh corn can be tricky to find in Paris. It’s sometimes available at outdoor markets, especially those that carry local or organic produce, such as Batignolles and Raspail, or larger markets such as the one at the Bastille and Avenue President Wilson. Chinese produce markets, especially those in the 13th, often carry fresh corn in the summer too.

Related Recipes

Fresh Corn Cakes

Roasted Tomato Soup with Corn Salsa

Fresh Corn Soup




  • August 20, 2015 3:31pm

    What a gorgeous way to use the bounties of summer! Plus I needed suggestions on how to use all the basil in my garden. Thanks!

    • Mary
      August 20, 2015 7:08pm

      Pesto! Don’t put the cheese in, and freeze it in portion-sized baggies. Give some to friends and relatives! When you thaw, add the cheese. You’ll have tons of beautiful sauce for winter. : )

  • August 20, 2015 3:42pm

    What a coincidence, just made this for dinner with my Parisian neighbors. I used Coeur de Boeuf tomatoes, fleshy and so flavorful and assorted yellow and purple heirloom ones. Added chives, parsley and basil from my garden. So good…
    Served it with sosaties, a South African lamb kebab with a spicy/sweet marinade.

  • August 20, 2015 4:03pm

    This looks wonderful! What a great use of fresh summer vegetables.

  • Susan
    August 20, 2015 5:24pm

    uncooked corn????

    • August 20, 2015 5:39pm
      David Lebovitz

      Many people, especially those from corn-growing regions, enjoy raw corn. When it’s fresh and sweet, it’s delicious. But if you prefer cooked corn (like steamed or boiled), you can add that to the salad instead, although it will lose some of that nice crunch that I like as a good contrast to the tomatoes and avocados.

      If I was going to go with cooked corn, I would probably grill it to give it a nice char!

      • August 20, 2015 6:01pm

        When in season, raw corn add great crunch and sweetness to a salad like this. Brilliant way to celebrate summer, David.
        Question re basil, how long would you say you would keep it in water at room temp?

        • August 20, 2015 6:05pm
          David Lebovitz

          The basil in the photo in the post has been in that water for over a week, and is still doing well. Don’t know how much longer it’ll keep but I’d say at least a week. If the weather is very hot, it’s best to find a cooler spot to put it in, although I avoid the refrigerator.

          • August 20, 2015 10:40pm

            I keep basil in a glass of water for weeks at a time. I harvest the larger leaves as I need them and pinch off the tops every now and then. After some time in the water, the sprigs start to sprout fresh leaves! Presto, fresh harvests!

          • August 20, 2015 10:47pm

            Basil is one of the herbs that root in water. Keep them watered and continue pinching off large leaves and every now and then the tops to prolong the growing season.

      • Linda H
        August 24, 2015 3:14am

        For a fresh corn taste in the winter, just blanch it a bit, cut it from the cob, and freeze. Tastes like fresh raw corn.

      • Bebe
        August 27, 2015 7:27pm

        I might – horrors! – use Trader Joe’s crisp canned corn. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. Superior flavor and crispness. V. good in salads.

        I make a similar “clean the refrigerator” salad when I have some leftover TJ corn and little tomatoes. Even add leftover red creamer potatoes cut in pieces similar to the cucumber and avocado.

    • Martha
      August 20, 2015 9:48pm

      Don’t knock til you try it. Raw corn is wonderful. I love it in a BLT salad with homemade Ranch dressing. David, your salad looks wonderful.

  • Gayle
    August 20, 2015 5:32pm

    I make something trés similar. I roast cherry tomatoes just until they burst, then add them with some fresh corn and basil to sautéed garlic and shallot. It sauces pasta very nicely.

    I love the endless interpretations of yours, David. Excellent!

  • Margaret Z.
    August 20, 2015 5:55pm

    Oh yum! The purple basil in my garden will be so pretty in this salad. What a great way to use up the cucumbers in my garden. Thanks for sharing.

  • Deborah
    August 20, 2015 5:58pm

    Substitute seedless watermelon for the corn and you have Gerald Hirigoyen’s Basque take on this summer mélange.
    Yummy !

  • August 20, 2015 6:30pm

    I make a similar version (with red wine vinaigrette); so delicious, healthy and satisfying. Love it!

  • Suz
    August 20, 2015 6:51pm

    This looks seriously good, and decidedly addictive.

    And I’d like to print the recipe (w/out ads, etc) – am I missing something? Thank you!

    • Linda Karber
      August 20, 2015 11:09pm

      Suz, If you are reading this on an iPad, tap the little horizontal lines on the left side of the address field (means reader view available, with no ads) then tap the little square on the right with an arrow on the top and choose “print” from the drop-down field. Hope it works for you! David previously explained how to do it, I couldn’t have figured it out myself! Thanks, David!

    • Bebe
      August 27, 2015 7:33pm

      If you are on a Mac that has the Reader function (little blue box in upper righthand corner), hit Reader. Column will come up without ads, etc. Then hit print and look at the pages.

      This column went to 8 print pages, but the recipe itself was only on Pages 7 and 8. I printed just those.

  • August 20, 2015 7:27pm

    I make a very similar melange, but with black beans standing in for the cucumber, cilantro for the basil, and a finely minced Thai chile or two. Also, I use equal parts of lime juice and rice vinegar in the dressing, omit the mustard, and add a BIG pinch of cumin. Tremendous side for grilled chicken or pork t-loin.

  • Susan
    August 20, 2015 7:59pm

    Agree wholeheartedly about California Olive Ranch olive oil. Consistently good quality and flavor. Will try this salad today!

  • August 20, 2015 8:01pm

    Summer in a bowl! This looks dreamy. My tomatoes are still not producing at the level I want them to, so I’ll have to hit the market tomorrow to mimc this beauty.

  • Danielle
    August 20, 2015 8:26pm

    My favorite way to cut corn off the cob is to use a bundt pan. Stem side goes in the hole, and the kernels fall into the pan. I actually think I use my bundt pan more for this than for cakes. :)

    • August 23, 2015 8:19pm

      That is brilliant. No more kernels scattering everywhere.

  • Cate
    August 20, 2015 8:36pm

    Im surprised no one has mentioned adding fresh buffalo mozzarella to this salad. This salad w mozzarella +/- the corn is my summer staple as soon as tomatoes are ripe. FYI Costco has the cheapest and best Italian buffalo mozzarella in the midwest.

  • P Adams
    August 20, 2015 10:21pm

    The salad looks great and your post is a terrific reminder of how to mix it up in new and different ways. Thank you for giving some brand names and recommendations especially when an ingredient can vary in quality or has a distinctive taste. I rely on California Ranch or Costco’s olive oils. Whole Foods 365’s is also good. I look forward to trying TJ’s Greek olive oil.

  • Mary F.
    August 20, 2015 10:56pm

    These recipes in August make me never want to see the end of summer. Enjoy it while it lasts!

  • August 21, 2015 1:31am

    All those lovely tomatoes! We just returned from Massachusetts with a dozen ears of corn and a few big tomatoes (replacing the space from mangos we brought up there for family). I’m savoring them, but this salad looks worthy of my loot.

  • Mimi Wallace
    August 21, 2015 2:00am

    Try also substituting fresh lemon basil for a bit of extra kick.

  • August 21, 2015 11:46am

    Love this! My garden is full of tomatoes, but I’m in a part of Italy that doesn’t really eat corn. Though I feel like canned corn wouldn’t do this justice, it would probably still make for a very tasty salad. I love the french way of adding shallots to dressings! For an Italian variation, cipollini are great as well.

  • Judy
    August 21, 2015 11:52am

    David, BRAVO…I fixed it for lunch and it was AMAZING! Thanks so very much!!!

  • Breda
    August 21, 2015 12:38pm

    Just made this, but I think I left out the red onion that I see in the pic, am I imagining it?

    • August 21, 2015 1:38pm
      David Lebovitz

      You have sharp eyes! Those are shallots, although I do note in the headnote that red onions are a possibility in this salad if you’d like to include them. Hope you enjoyed the salad.

  • Brenda
    August 21, 2015 12:53pm

    Yum – bring on summer down here in Oz

  • August 21, 2015 1:09pm

    This is such a beautiful salad. I have never used raw corn before. Dying to try it now.

  • Donna in CT
    August 21, 2015 3:55pm

    Made this last night with basil, cukes and tomatoes from the garden, lovely corn from up the road a piece, and California Olive Ranch olive oil, which is my go-to. Not sure where the avocados were from… Love COR oil. It’s fresh, American, and delicious.

    CT style lobster rolls tomorrow…ah, summer in New England.

  • August 21, 2015 7:13pm

    Looks wonderful! I haven’t tried Costco’s olive oil yet, but I will now :)

  • August 21, 2015 9:02pm

    Loved it! Even though I live in Costa Rica and the corn here, … well lets just say I call it pig corn. So I had to boil and grill mine. No prob. I loved it.

  • Susan
    August 21, 2015 9:49pm

    David, you are right!
    I made the salad today with uncooked corn and it was wonderful! I have never used raw corn before, and Im from corn country (Minnesota).
    I may never cook it again…..
    thanks for a great recipe.

  • Roaster
    August 21, 2015 11:01pm

    Simply delicious! This is a real winner, so many great flavors.

  • Anne
    August 22, 2015 12:32am

    I recognize that vinaigrette! I made your French lentil salad last week and I’m obsessed. I’ll have to try this one.

  • Deborah
    August 22, 2015 1:24am

    Wow, I’ve got all but the corn at home right now—and I can get some local corn easily at a roadside place–dinner is served!
    Side note: I JUST finished reading your December 2005 archive about Oyamel Mexican restaurant before I read this one (I LOVE reading archives) and I am happy to see that it is still going strong per the web site–the menu looks marvelous. Aloha!

  • JES
    August 22, 2015 1:29am

    Is the amount of mustard correct? 4 tsp? I made the dressing but the mustard seems overpowering. I used real French dijon from Trader Joe’s.

    • August 22, 2015 2:20am
      David Lebovitz

      Yes, 4 teaspoons is the amount that I used. Trader Joe’s Dijon mustard is similar in strength to what we have in France. It’s around the same amount that Martha Stewart, the New York Times, and Saveur have in their Dijon vinaigrette recipes. But if you find it too strong, you can add more oil and vinegar, or even a pinch of sugar, which will counterbalance it.

    • Katherine
      September 15, 2015 12:40am

      TJ Dijon is very sharp. I will modify with a bit of honey or agave. It is really too hot.

      • John
        September 15, 2015 12:51am

        I tried it with a good coarse grain mustard. Took care of the heat problem and added an lovely depth.

  • L
    August 22, 2015 2:18am


    I have been following and cooking from your blog for several years now, but don’t think I have ever commented. I often think we would be best friends if the opportunity had arisen.

    I must tell you this lovely simple recipe is one of the most delicious things I have ever put in my mouth!


    PS This is com ing from a 78 year old foodie.

  • Bárbara
    August 22, 2015 2:33am

    thanks so much for this wonderful recipe, it’s got every vegetable I absolutely love, is going to be in my menu today.

  • Aimee
    August 22, 2015 8:46am

    I make a salad similar to this but I’ve not yet dressed it with a vinegarette. Love that idea, I will be trying it soon. I like to swap out some of the cherry tomatoes for ground cherries – which pop up at the farmers market the same time that corn and tomatoes make an appearance.

  • Judy
    August 22, 2015 3:18pm

    David, do you cook the corn before making this gorgeous salad?

    • August 22, 2015 7:14pm
      David Lebovitz

      No, the corn isn’t cooked but used raw. Other commenters asked the same thing so I’ve updated the headnote in the recipe to reiterate that. Fresh, sweet corn is excellent raw but if you prefer cooked, you can use that.

  • Susan Pasko
    August 22, 2015 6:49pm

    This is very close to my summertime go-to salad as well!! IMHO, it becomes transcendent with the addition of fresh peaches or nectarines.

  • WillNYC
    August 22, 2015 10:50pm

    Absolutely delish! Knowing I wouldn’t finish it in a day I’ve left it semi-deconstructed. Everything mixed together except for avocado and vinaigrette which I mix in at serving. I’ll be making it several more times before the season is over.

  • JudyMac
    August 23, 2015 12:21am

    This salad looks scrumptious! Someone else may have mentioned it, but for chefs on our side of the pond, Trader Joe’s carries packaged frozen fire-roasted corn that is quite good. Be sure to drain it well before incorporating with other ingredients. I’ve used it before in making a corn/black bean salad.

  • K Champagne
    August 23, 2015 2:00am

    I just had this for dinner tonight and it was HEAVENLY! I used some leftover steamed corn, and it worked just fine. Thank you so much for this gorgeous recipe!

  • Lisa
    August 23, 2015 5:16pm

    This is absolutely delicious. I served it on romaine heart leaves which turned it into finger food.

  • Nicola
    August 24, 2015 6:15pm

    This was absolutely incredible!

  • Jennifer
    August 24, 2015 7:02pm

    Every recipe of yours that I’ve tried has turned out perfectly, and this one was no exception. Absolutely delicious!

  • Ken
    August 24, 2015 8:05pm

    I’m eating leftovers for lunch today from last night and this dish is simply astounding. I’m making this again for a cookout we’re having later in Sept.

  • August 24, 2015 9:59pm

    I made this for dinner tonight. I added a few scallions and a bit of leftover dill I had and it was absolutely delicious with some baked salmon and toasted foccaccia. Mmmm … thank you!

  • Susan
    August 26, 2015 7:32pm

    Did you try the tomatoes from Eckerton Farms at the Union Square Greenmarket? They have the most unbelievable Sungolds and these tiny, amazingly sweet Mexican Sweet cherry tomatoes that I just keep on the counter and pop like candy. (Literally tiny, like smaller than a fingernail. Yum.) They would be delicious with raw corn in this salad.

  • Glenn
    August 26, 2015 9:11pm

    Tasted as wonderful as it looks. My husband, who merely tolerates salads. declared this the best salad he’s ever eaten. He bragged about it at work and I had to send the recipe to one of his staff. Thank you, David! Love your blog!

  • Alison jones
    August 27, 2015 9:28pm

    This is incredibly delicious. I added some minced Fresno chili the second time and liked the contrast with the sweet corn.

  • El
    August 28, 2015 10:05pm

    Looks amazing! I wait all year for the dry-farmed tomatoes to arrive every August. I’ll have a month and a half of bliss before the season ends and it’s no more tomatoes til next year, other than the odd punnet of cherry tomatoes when I’m desperate!

  • August 30, 2015 5:58pm

    David, what a beautiful salad, the photo makes me crave those fresh vegetables. We don’t have a lot of fresh corn in Spain but I am going to go on a hunt for some so I can make this salad.

  • Cass
    August 31, 2015 2:25am

    My notes for this salad say “beyond delicious”! Your gin and tonic recipe from this summer was a nice accompaniant.

  • Pat Cross
    September 4, 2015 8:48pm

    I love your blog and look forward to it every week.

    This salad is wonderful and the shallot vinaigrette, with all that mustard:), is great!

  • niche
    September 9, 2015 4:55am

    I’ve made this salad 4 times since you posted this. I’m trying to eat as much corn as possible before the season is over. I love this salad. I’ve used whatever vinaigrette I can make up/have on hand. It works no matter what.

  • John
    September 10, 2015 12:02am

    I added some roasted blueberries to this salad today, and used a fruity vinegar (Orange Muscat Champagne) – Holy Moly! What a lovely salad!


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