Peach and Corn Salad with Fresh Mint and Lime

If you asked the average Joe today what he thinks about salad, ten to one he says something about “healthy.” I’m a 1980s baby, a Millennial, a product of the decade marked by thick shoulder pads and Jell-O Pudding Pops commercials with smiling Bill Cosby on the screen, and what I remember most about the salads in my childhood is that there weren’t many. My school cafeteria had Pizza Day and Hot Dog Day, and, by the time I was a senior, when I was the one running to Aldi to grab the cheapest versions of buns and chips and candy bars for us to resell, I was never picking up greens or vegetables or even fruit. (Who would buy them, especially when they could get a giant Coke for less?) Besides that, salads were rabbit food—crunchy and raw, the sort of thing you needed to chomp at before you could swallow—and they couldn’t fill you up like the burgers we made on grill day or the bread-heavy pizzas each week, right? You’d eat salad if you were dieting. Or maybe if they went with your aerobics plan because, in the years of Richard Simmons’s dance moves and Suzanne Somers’s thighs, aerobics was a pretty big thing to do.

Of course, the ’80s were 30 years ago, I am still shocked to realize, and high school feels even farther gone than that. While Tim and I were in Chicago recently, we spent a day with my friend Jackie who used to have a locker under mine, sometime in 1997 or ’98, I think, when she was in eighth grade and I was a sophomore at our small private school. She’s getting married in November, to a sweet, soft-spoken guy who rides the Metra and works with numbers each day, and after the four of us toured the historic stone mansion where they’ll be having the wedding in Joliet, we headed to Chipotle for lunch. There, three out of four ate big bowls of greens as our choice, not our punishment, of entrée, salads the sort of thing we actually like to eat.

Peach and Corn Salad with Fresh Mint and Lime
Peach and Corn Salad with Fresh Mint and Lime
Peach and Corn Salad with Fresh Mint and Lime
Peach and Corn Salad with Fresh Mint and Lime

So sure, salad’s come a long way in my lifetime, especially in my particular lifetime, where the me of 1994 and the me of 2014 have precious little in common by way of typical diet each week. We all know that there are salad restaurants, salad buffets, entire sections of salads on most menus of most restaurants or, at least, at the ones where you sit down to eat. If you go to Google and type “salad,” there are over 21 million results brought up in less than a minute, as in more than 20 times the amount of people living in Nashville in 2012. 81% of Americans eat at least one salad a week, says an infographic made by Mint. Most fast-food restaurants offer salads on their menus, catering at least in theory if not in actuality, to people looking for a healthier way to eat. If there’s one thing people today seem to know about salad, it’s that it’s good for you, the thing you pick when you care about your body and your health and you want something fresh.

Here is my only problem with that: I know what it’s like to do things, like eat salad, because I think that I should, not because there’s anything particularly alluring about the idea to my heart. The former me, the one with big bangs and braces and an affinity for clothes sold at Abercrombie, ate salad when I was forced to, when my mom put it on the table or when my peers were saying salads were a virtuous choice. Some people are good at things like that; I’m not. So when I hear people talk about the health perks of salad, when I talk about the health benefits of salad, I wonder if there’s something of a disservice going on. Leafy greens, like all fresh produce, are more than nutritious. Salad is more than low in calories and high in vitamins and minerals that make your body well. Salad can also be delicious. When you find the right combination of textures and flavors, like a triple berry salad or a leafy sprouts salad with a sweet and spicy homemade vinaigrette, it doesn’t have to be a thing to get through; it can be a thing to savor. Salad can fill you up. And while the former me ate salad when I had to, the present me often debates between salad and something else on a menu because I find so much pleasure in a colorful, tall stack of vegetables on my plate. Case in point: this peach and corn salad. A seasonal celebration of the season that I also don’t have to fake affection for, every day marveling at the fierce sunlight and blistering heat and the way these things make the world around us grow.

Peach and Corn Salad with Fresh Mint and Lime

Sometimes Tim will thank me for doing something for him: making him green beans or grabbing a glass of water or sitting for a long while to talk, and I’ll want to say, why are you thanking me? I love you! This makes me happy, too! And I think there’s something wonderful about that. Just as it is good to sacrificially love, so too it is good to get to love like this out of joy, out of delight, out of a natural pleasure that comes from seeking another’s good. It’s as true with us and food as it is with us and each other. It’s as true with us and each other as it is with us and God. And just like it is good to want to eat food that nourishes our bodies because it nourishes our bodies, so too it is good (better!) to want to eat it because we also want to eat it, because we like it, because it tastes good, because when we eat it we are delighted and that delight keeps us returning, over and over again, to another salad on our plates. I was past Y2K and halfway through college when I started to see the joy that is available in God, the pure soul-satisfying pleasure He provides and how all the other things—commands, principles, lessons—of the Bible flow out of that. I was out of grad school when I started to see the pure pleasure in the food He’s made. These days, salads are often the very things pointing me to Him, filling my heart with gratitude, for a world I have not made and food I have not grown, piled onto my plate to eat.

“Always you renounce a lesser good for a greater; the opposite is sin. Picture me with my ground teeth stalking joy – fully armed too, as it’s a highly dangerous quest.” Flannery O’Connor

Peach and Corn Salad with Fresh Mint and Lime

Peach and Corn Salad with Fresh Mint and Lime

Ingredients:

  • 2 non-GMO corn cobs, shucked
  • 1 small bunch leaf lettuce (about 4 cups finely chopped lettuce)
  • 2 delicious, juicy organic peaches, sliced
  • juice of 2 limes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 10 leaves fresh mint
  • sea salt, to taste
  • pepper (and pepper!), to taste

Directions:

In a medium size pot at least the width of your corn cobs, bring enough water to fill the pot to boil. Add corn cobs and cook until kernels are firm yet tender, or to the doneness you like, about 3 to 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, chop lettuce finely and place in a large bowl. Remove corn cobs from pot to a cutting board and slice off the kernels vertically. Add corn to bowl of greens. Add sliced peaches, juice of two limes, olive oil and mint. Toss gently, and season (generously!) with sea salt and extra pepper, to taste.

http://foodloveswriting.com/2014/07/14/peach-and-corn-salad-fresh-mint-lime/
Cooksnaps
Shanna Mallon started Food Loves Writing back in 2008, as a way to remember her grandma and write about her life through food. Since then it's become a place leading her to a lifestyle of eating whole foods, a new home in Nashville and the love of her life, Tim. Follow Shanna on Twitter @foodloves, keep up with Food Loves Writing on Facebook and stay inspired with the monthly newsletter.

This Post Has 22 Comments

    1. Shanna Mallon

      Hi friend! I have been thinking of you and baby bird so much; hope you’re both well! You’re so generous with your words here; thank you. It feels funny to accept the thanks, though, mostly because writing posts like these feel so enjoyable to me. I love getting to write about something I truly believe and something that matters to me. But thinking about that now, I realize, wait! that’s exactly what I was trying to say! I’m thankful you read it, too.

  1. Joanna

    You had me nodding, “yes, yes, salad is so good, I love eating salad now and I’m so thankful for that change,” and then I hit your last paragraph that holds some of the truest words about our faith I’ve ever read: delight keeps us returning.

    Also, Flannery O’Connor is the boss.

  2. angela@spinachtiger

    I so want this salad. You have made a lovely summer combination that is elegant, rustic, healthy (a good word to me) and just darn delicious. (Can blogger’s use that word?) I have some “peaches and cream” corn from my farmer friend, so it will be a peaches and cream corn with peaches. Don’t you just love how for the rest of your life you will never run out of new ways to make a salad and isn’t it the best food in the world. I would give up wine, chocolate and all sugar before I gave up my salad! But I’m older, grew up on them at every single dinner, even if we had hot dogs, we had a salad. In fact, it was an unwritten family law. A meal without a salad was not complete.

    1. Shanna Mallon

      Haha, healthy is a good word to me, too! But as much as I like Virtuous Healthy, I like Virtuous Delicious Healthy (I’m pretty sure bloggers can use any word we like, haha) better. I like it when I can like what I’m eating for its taste and enjoyment *as well as* for its nutrients. And I love that you grew up eating salad. So did Tim. What a gift! And you liked it! Amazing.

    1. Shanna Mallon

      hahahaha I was just telling Tim that I’ve never been able to develop a strong photography voice. He and I are both shooting photos here, so that’s some of it, but mostly we are ever learning and experimenting with new things. : )

  3. Nicole

    Beautiful! I have trouble finding non-gmo corn (or specifically labeled non-gmo corn), so I wait and wait for my CSA to have some! I was just thinking about how salads have exploded in popularity and I believe more so in the last 5 years. I think all of the wonderful whole foods blogs have a lot to do with the trend. Oh man, Suzanne Somers and Richard Simmons! HA! There’s a city around here that still has a Jazzercise studio and it reminds me of the 80′s aerobic trend.

    1. Shanna Mallon

      Nicole, I feel your pain. Our Whole Foods has a commitment to only sell non-GMO corn now, so that’s made it a little easier. Still though, you can’t beat straight from the farmer. One nice thing about having to wait for the seasons it that the eventual gratification is so much sweeter when it comes. : )

      And do you think food blogs have helped celebrate salads and fresh foods? I hope so. My friend Lindsey talked to us once about blogs as a form of passive activism, celebrating eating together, cooking, enjoying fresh food. I like that idea.

      Also! I love that you remember Suzanne and Richard. Every time I think about them I smile…. : )

      1. Nicole

        I’ll have to check with my Whole Foods and see if they’ve made the same commitment. That would be wonderful!

        I don’t know for sure, but I feel like blogs have made a difference! Maybe that opinion is over-generalized through a blogger’s perspective with my Pinterest account specifically curated to what I like :)

  4. Joyti

    Your post reminds me of how ‘different’ my parents were – I never had money for soda at school (I don’t know if that’s a good or bad thing) – and my parents they were very, very early in the farmer’s market every weekend and lots and lots veggies thing – it was comfort food for them.

    This looks delicious – the very essence of colorful, light summer food :)

  5. Nikki A

    Talk about a trip down memory lane with this blog…excellent entry and perfect timing we just bought a bunch of peaches at the local farmers market and I know we are going to get sick of eating them plain…so thanks! Ps can’t wait Nov for Jackie & Rich’s big day…u have been a life saver!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Current day month ye@r *