Corn, cherry tomato, and cilantro salad

Contributed by Preston Maring, MD

Corn, cherry tomato, and cilantro salad

This is the first installment of a two-part story about Northern California Kaiser Permanente's inpatient food system.

Seven thousand inpatient meals are served per day at 19 hospitals. A portion of 5,000 of those meals are fresh fruits and vegetables. The meals have been delivered daily, almost without fail, for the last 31 years by Food Service Partners, our food preparation and distribution commissary in South San Francisco. The single day they missed sourcing for just four facilities was on the day of the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989.

Food Service Partners orders what our Kaiser Permanente dietitians and nutritionists request based on nutritional guidelines; dietary special needs; and physician, nurse and member feedback. FSP gets whatever fresh fruits and vegetables are ordered from Fresh Point produce distributors, also in South San Francisco.

Because of Kaiser Permanente's historical ordering patterns, Fresh Point has to obtain 100 of the 250 tons of fruits and vegetables used annually from places outside of California, e.g. Chile, Guatemala, Mexico, Hawaii and other states in the U.S. These products travel many miles to us by air, land and sea. Many of the farms from which we get our food are larger than 10,000 acres.

Stay tuned for part 2 of this story.

A colleague reminded me about the past recipe I shared for this salad, saying that her children like to eat it right out of the bowl. I decided to try it again since fresh corn has found its way into our markets. Freshly picked corn is incredibly sweet when cooked properly.

I have a confession to make. I suggested cooking the corn too long in the recipe of the week in June 2004. This week's recipe is for the same salad, but updated for a gentler approach to the corn and less fat in the dressing. I served this recently on a bed of greens with warm, sliced, roasted chicken breast.


  • 4 ears fresh corn, husked
  • 2 pints cherry tomatoes, stemmed and halved
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1/3 cup chopped cilantro
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Salad greens (optional)


Bring a big pot of salted water to a boil. Add the corn and immediately turn off the heat. Cover for 3 to 5 minutes until the corn is crunchy tender. Drain and cool. Here's the tip of the week: unlike two years ago when I made this, resulting in kernels all over the kitchen, I suggest cutting the kernels off the cob in a large, deep bowl. Toss the corn with the remaining ingredients. Spoon over a bed of salad greens and top with avocado or sliced roasted chicken breast. This is a really good one-dish meal.