Rainy Day Pick-me-Up: Tomato, Corn, and Butter Lettuce Salad with Buttermilk Chive Dressing

by Gena on June 22, 2009


According to a New York Times article a few days ago, it had rained fifteen out of nineteen days in June thus far. I feel like I’m living in the Pacific Northwest, but without all the vegans. It sucks.

To cheer myself up, I’ve decided to post an unmistakably summery recipe. Are there any two vegetables that epitomize summertime more than corn and tomatoes? I spend the entire year in produce waiting for summer tomatoes: they’re one of the vegetables I can’t stand not to eat seasonally (if I do buy them in winter, it’s from the greenhouse grower in Union Square), and they happen to be one of my favorite foods, so I’m giddy when they start to appear at the Farmer’s Market in June. Now that they’ve arrived, I’ll be devouring them all summer.

I’ve always thought of my father’s relatives as having prototypically American taste in food. This is, perhaps, because I’ve always examined them in contrast to my mother’s boisterous Greek family, who would make anybody who owns a barbecue seem like a consummate WASP. That said, they are pretty darn all-American (think New England, cookouts, football, and khakis, not to mention exuberant observance of the 4th of July). And this was embodied the food I remember from my summers with them in New Hampshire as a child: there was sherbert. There was mac and cheese. There were hot dog buns and Vlasic pickles and coleslaw mixes and beef patties. There was blueberry pie and rhubarb jam.

But let’s give credit where credit is due. There was also salad. And this salad was given a delightfully all-American twist in the buttermilk dressing I recall my Grandmother having a fondness for. It was sweet and sour, creamy, and specked with chives – and, as I recall, it was really, really good.

So as an ode to the approaching July 4th weekend — and an homage to the summer that threatens to elude us forever — I’ve created a cheery summertime salad:  tomatoes, corn, and butter lettuce tossed in a creamy buttermilk chive dressing.

This salad couldn’t be easier. Rip up a head of butter lettuce, chop some tomatoes, chop some corn, and toss. The most complicated part of the recipe is the dressing, and if you have a Vitamix, it will take a matter of minutes to whip up. The resulting dish is light and delicate, yet creamy; sweet, but not overly so. I loved it, and I’m planning on making it again soon.

Tomato, Corn, and Butter Lettuce Salad with Buttermilk Chive Dressing (serves 2, or 1 hungry Gena)


For the Salad:

1 head butter lettuce
1 small tomato, chopped, or about eight cherry tomatoes, halved
1 small ear’s worth of corn
Chopped chives, for garnish

Buttermilk Chive Dressing (makes about 1 1/4 cups)

½ cup raw cashews, soaked
½ cup raw pine nuts, soaked
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp onion powder (optional)
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tsp seasoned rice vinegar (not raw, but not a big deal)
¾ cup water
3 tbsp chopped chives


Blend all ingredients but the chives in a high speed blender till smooth. Alternately, blend all ingredients but water in a food processor till smooth, then drizzle in the water slowly (stopping every now and again to scrape the bowl) until the mixture has taken on a smooth consistency. Toss the chives in the finished dressing and stir.


To assemble the salad, toss the vegetables in as much dressing as you need. Garnish with chives, and enjoy!

Here’s the salad up close:


And from afar:



Hope these veggies bring a little beam of sunlight into your rainy nights, if you’re here in NYC. Have a good one!


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{ 49 comments… read them below or add one }

Katherine June 22, 2009 at 6:43 pm

Yet another beautiful, fresh salad :) Your dressing sounds delicious! I really want to start experimenting with nut spreads and dressings. Do you have some basics that are good suggestions for transitioning?

Have a great night!


Diana (Soap & Chocolate) June 22, 2009 at 7:11 pm

Totally screams all-American summer! Which, by the way, we are not having in NYC. BOO.


Maria June 22, 2009 at 7:15 pm

Haha, yeah here in Seattle we were getting sunshine for most of June and May, until a couple days ago–now we’re back to partly cloudy skies with a sprinkle of rain.

That salad is beautiful. Love the corn+chives+tomato combo, so pretty!


Kristen June 22, 2009 at 7:19 pm

Umm, it is uber rainy down south, too! At least the rain takes a bit of the edge off of the heat, which makes for a more pleasant run. :-) I enjoyed this post. It’s always nice to see that you have all the ingredients for something already on hand. :-)


jessica June 22, 2009 at 7:34 pm

i have been purchasing local corn and enjoy it my salad.
will make your dressing, sounds yummy.


Marlena Torres June 22, 2009 at 7:44 pm

mmmm I love the sound of that dressing! This is one of my husbands favorite salads (2nd to the greens with grated carrot, beet and tomato) but he loves it with a simple lemon juice, olive oil, and garlic dressing with fresh basil. I will have to try the creamy chive dressing for myself! :)


Gena June 23, 2009 at 7:12 am

Let me know what you think, Ms. Marlena!


Briana in Tucson (aka Trilby Drew) June 22, 2009 at 8:18 pm

That dressing looks amazing! I would have never thought it was possible to make a creamy raw “buttermilk” dressing. I love salads, period. But salad during the warm summer months takes on a new dimension.

And I feel your pain when it comes to the rain. We are sunny for the time being in Tucson, but our monsoon season will be here soon. Think pouring rain, thunder, lightening, and unbelievable humidity! Blech!


Cecilia June 22, 2009 at 9:38 pm

YUM YUM YUM … I’m bookmarking this recipe for warmer days – hopefully. It seems like the WORLD is pouring atm, boohoo!


Sarah (LovIN My Tummy) June 22, 2009 at 10:20 pm

Delicious, Gena! I may try subbing avocado for the nuts in the dressing, but I’m bound to try this one.

Thank you for your sweet email today. You are the greatest.


Shelby June 23, 2009 at 5:14 am

Another winning recipe!

My mom has turned me to butter lettuce. No more romaine for us, butter lettuce is SO GOOD!


Nancy June 23, 2009 at 5:17 am

WOW! I’m reading this at 8:10AM, and I’m already craving a salad after seeing that photo! Simple and classic, but just gorgeous.
OK, so I thought today was supposed to be warm and sunny?!?! I drove in to work, and I was seeing drizzle on the windshield. I think I might have to start using a kayak to get in! :-)


Gena June 23, 2009 at 7:12 am

Seriously! I am so tired of this!


Lindsay June 23, 2009 at 5:31 am

This sounds great! I have been skimming through your blog and just find it very inspiring. THANKS!!!


Gena June 23, 2009 at 7:11 am

Thanks so much, Lindsay!


JessicaR June 23, 2009 at 7:10 am

How long will the dressing last in the fridge? Thanks! :)


Gena June 23, 2009 at 7:11 am

It should last at least a week, Jessica!


Michal Mymo June 23, 2009 at 7:59 am

mmmmm! this looks so tasty. i love in ohio and it has been raining almost every single day – it feels more like fall than summer. this salad is just what i need im making it for dinner tongiht. thanks again for the recipe!




Jocelyn June 23, 2009 at 8:10 am

mmm yum yum I LOVE corn..especially in salads..looks fab!!


amy (veganissexy) June 23, 2009 at 9:12 am

Hey! It’s sunny today in the pacific northwest :) Don’t hate :) Kidding……but seriously it’s been gorgeous this June….quite the change, and I’m not complaining. Lovely looking salad. I’m still eating my gigantic salads everyday for lunch and feeling awesome :)


Gena June 23, 2009 at 10:58 am

So glad you’re enjoying the giant salads, sexy Amy!


earthmother June 23, 2009 at 10:28 am

I feel like I’m living in the Pacific Northwest, but without all the vegans.

You crack me up!!

I’m so sorry you’re having such a rainy June, but I’m so HAPPY it inspired this luscious salad and dressing!


Gena June 23, 2009 at 11:07 am

Ha, good! Hope you try it!


Missy Maintains June 23, 2009 at 10:54 am

Love this salad! Perfect to make even if the sun never comes out! Hopefully one of these days…!!


Gena June 23, 2009 at 11:06 am

Right?! Where’s summer?


Bianca- Vegan Crunk June 23, 2009 at 12:35 pm

Ooh, I love raw ranch-style dressings! I made one once that was as good as any non-raw vegan ranch dressing I’d ever had. I’m bookmarking this recipe!


Kersten June 23, 2009 at 12:42 pm

I love this dressing recipe!!! I hate heavy creamy dressings and never thought to use nuts as the base. I have chives to use up, leftover from my Father’s Day preparations. You are a very creative chef–I love reading about all of your eats and recipes. Thanks!!


Gena June 23, 2009 at 3:54 pm

That makes my day, Kersten. Thanks!


Jessie June 23, 2009 at 2:04 pm

Hi there, I was hoping you could help me out with a non blog related question. I am looking for an apartment in NYC, probably in Manhatten, queens, or brooklyn, can you recommend some safe and affordable neighborhoods? I don’t even really know where to start looking! I have heard Astoria is pretty family friendly, do you agree with this? I’m looking to pay 7-00-1000 for a utility or one bedroom. Thanks in advance!!!


Gena June 24, 2009 at 10:44 am

Oh dear! Finding an NYC apt is a science, Jessie. But I can tell you with assurance that Astoria is a lovely and very family friendly neighborhood.

And full of Greeks, like me :)


Katharina June 23, 2009 at 2:23 pm

This looks DIVINE!!!


Emily Eats June 23, 2009 at 2:44 pm

I am so excited to soon be returning to summer ~ & then trying this recipe out!


elise June 23, 2009 at 5:51 pm

ew. that statistic makes me sad (and also a bit angry)…good thing i have the luscious salad full of yumminess to distract me :)

seriously, i could not agere more. corn = summer to me. my mom used to make a delish butter lettuce salad that epitomizes summer to me too. it had a creamy poppyseed dressing, cantaloupe, and avocado. you could try to create somethig similar (meaning a nut based dressing instead) and i bet it would be to-die-for.

ill soak up some hawaii sun for you :)


Gena June 23, 2009 at 8:45 pm

Oooooh! Thank you for the idea, Ms. Elise! Get some sun, please!!


leslie June 23, 2009 at 6:41 pm

i’m the same way about tomatoes; they’re just not worth it in winter!

i hear we’re supposed to finally get summer weather this weekend. i’m starting to get SAD in the wrong time of year!


Lauren June 23, 2009 at 6:51 pm

This weather is terrible!

I hope to have some lovely yummy tomatoes from my garden this year. I will bring you some when they are ready! :)

That dressing sounds great, I need to change up my dressings more, I am usually a olive oil, balsamic, stone ground mustard girl.

Have a nice week, Gena!


Gena June 23, 2009 at 8:44 pm

I am sooooo boring with dressings too, Lauren — oil and lemon. But the blog is making me mix it up :)


Kristen's Raw June 23, 2009 at 7:17 pm

F…!!!!! That sounds amazing. Great dressing recipe. I can’t wait to make it when I get home.

G and I need our Gena fix ;) Can’t wait to see you Monday. How long do we have? A quick hour? Our dates seem to last about 2.5 hours! What will we do? haha



Gena June 23, 2009 at 8:44 pm

Are you telling me that I inspired YOU with a recipe?! Girl, the roles have been reversed for once!

I am missing you guys too!! Are you coming on Saturday??

And yes, Monday will be about an hour! Not enough!



Heather McD (Heather Eats Almond Butter) June 23, 2009 at 8:54 pm

Just catching up. First off, love you juice pulp guac, and yes, I totally agree…a small pile of mesclun greens for $14 does not constitute a salad people! I want a huge bowl of spinach and romaine covered in veggies with lots of avocado chunks. Why is that so difficult to find. I’m with you – I’d usually just rather stay at home, watch a move, and make my own yummy dinner.

Next up on the menu…Buttermilk Chive Dressing. :)


Gena June 24, 2009 at 10:43 am

I hope you like it, Heaths!


Melissa (fitnessnyc) June 24, 2009 at 8:03 am

I am yearning for all things summer by the sand, water and boats! ah I could definitely be a quaint NE girl for the summer months.


Gena June 24, 2009 at 10:44 am

Um, could I come join you? I can’t wait to head upstate for the 4th of July.


Sally June 25, 2009 at 11:25 am

That looks like a great salad!

PS New York City actually gets more inches of rain per year than Seattle.


Gena June 25, 2009 at 1:01 pm

Sally — HA!! That does NOT shock me.


happy herbivore June 26, 2009 at 4:40 pm

you make the best salads… mmmmm


Barbie Tsaturova June 27, 2009 at 4:50 pm

Hi Gena,
I saw you on Matt Monarch’s raw food world tv show which led me to your site. I have been enjoying your posts very much and wanted to tell you that I tried this salad and dressing recipe. It was incredible! I have yet to find a good raw salad dressing until now. I have been high to 100% raw for three months and I am enjoying the benefits and everyone in this raw community. Thanks!!!!



Nancy Politis August 11, 2009 at 4:58 pm

This was so awesome. Delicious :) Thank you so much for sharing.


Jess - The Domestic Vegan July 12, 2010 at 6:58 pm

Have I not commented on this recipe?! It’s the best dressing ever. I usually use all cashews (because pine nuts are so expensive most of the time), and throw in a clove of garlic & a sprinkle of black pepper. It’s amazing & makes even the most mundane salad taste incredible. I could eat this everyday!


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