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Chopped Romaine Salad with Blue Cheese

Chopped Summer Romaine Salad with Blue Cheese, Charred Corn, Cherry Tomatoes, and Homemade Croutons

Is it just me, or did this summer go by way too fast? I mean, technically summer lasts for another month, although I know many see Labor Day as the official end to summer. That or back to school (which around here seems to be August 1st… seriously? What is that nonsense?)

Either way, there is still time to enjoy fresh summer produce while you can.

What better way to send off the season than with a big ol’ salad full of all its wonderful flavors: juicy cherry tomatoes, sweet late-summer corn, charred to perfection, tossed with chunky blue cheese dressing and topped with delightfully crunchy homemade croutons.

Chopped Romaine Salad with Marie's Chunky Blue Cheese Dressing

When it comes to toppings, the best salads are an exercise in contrast: tender and crunchy, salty and sweet. The best salads should have all four, and this one does. Sweet, tender corn and ripe cherry tomatoes, crunchy croutons seasoned generously with garlic salt, tangy blue cheese dressing and crisp romaine lettuce. It’s simple and unfussy, but oh-so-flavorful.

You may not think that corn belongs on a salad, because frankly, it’s not all that common. But surprisingly, the corn gives the salad a fresh pop of summer flavor and a surprising sweetness. Charring the corn brings a robust smokiness that can only be achieved in the great outdoors (or indoors with the aid of a kitchen torch, lol). You definitely want fresh summer corn for this recipe, the sweeter the better; the frozen stuff just doesn’t compare.

You can grill your corn, rotating on the cob until there is an even char over the surface of the kernels. If you don’t have a grill or don’t feel like firing it up, simply cut the kernels off of the cob, toss them with a bit of olive oil, and then broil until tender. You might get some char depending on your broiler, but I like to take a creme brûlée torch to the corn at the end to really give it that speckled, blackened look.

Homemade croutons are Taylor’s specialty. It’s a great way to use up stale bread, though his are so good we often find ourselves buying bread specifically for the purpose of making them. You’ll want a bread that’s lighter than a sourdough, but denser than regular sandwich bread. It should have a noticeable crust, but not one that’s so tough that you have to really tear into it. Italian or French breads are probably your best bet. Our favorite crouton bread is an Italian-style bread called Pane Bello from Whole Foods. Buy it unsliced and cut it yourself into nice thick pieces.

Chopped Summer Romaine Salad with Blue Cheese, Charred Corn, Cherry Tomatoes, and Homemade Croutons

Not all blue cheese dressings are created equal. Some are thin and watery. Some are just plain funky. Some barely taste like blue cheese at all. But Marie’s® Chunky Blue Cheese Dressing is gloriously thick. Thick and chunky. It’s got a robust blue cheese flavor, tangy without being sour.

The thickness means this is not a dressing for drizzling; rather, use a big bowl and a pair of tongs to toss the lettuce and a few spoonfuls of dressing together until the lettuce is evenly coated, ensuring that each and every bite you take will be equally flavorful. No pockets of naked lettuce here!