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Quick…what are your favorite flavors of summer? So many I know, but three are at the heart of summer cooking – tomatoes, corn and basil. Love ‘em!

In season and as fresh and local as your back yard garden, or at least your nearest farmers market, these flavors are also good for your heart!

Technically a fruit, a berry in fact, Italians call the tomato “pomodoro” meaning golden apple for the yellow and orange varieties. But in France, these fruits are pomme d’amour otherwise known as love apples. Eating fresh tomatoes can help lower total and LDL cholesterol and triglycerides decreasing the risk of atherosclerosis.

But tomatoes aren’t the only flavor working to lower the risk of heart disease. Sweet, fresh corn from your local farmers market, or frozen, has a good amount of soluble fiber, important for feeding good bacteria in our intestine and helping lower cholesterol.

And what tastier way to help keep your vascular system healthy than with one of over 60 varieties of flavorful basil. Best known in Thai, Vietnamese and, most infamously, Italian cooking where it’s a symbol of love, basil’s vitamin A, vitamin C and polyphenols act like antioxidants which help keep arteries clean of atherosclerosis.

In this charming Corn Crab Tomato Salad the basil colorfully adds aromatic flavor to the brilliant Lemon Basil Dressing. This replaces the need for extra salt which can contribute to high blood pressure and helps keep flavor a light 242 calories per serving.

For an easy how-to hollow a tomato for stuffing, click here.

Corn Crab and Tomato Salad with lemon Basil Dressing

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup corn kernels (about 2 ears)
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 pound lump crabmeat, shell pieces removed

1. Combine rind, 3 tablespoons juice, and next 5 ingredients (through black pepper) in a large bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Reserve 1 1/2 tablespoons juice mixture. Add remaining 2 tablespoons juice, corn, and next 4 ingredients (through crab) to remaining juice mixture; toss gently to coat.

2. Arrange 2 tomato slices and 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes on each of 4 plates. Drizzle about 1 teaspoon reserved juice mixture over each serving. Top each serving with 1 cup corn and crab mixture.

Original recipe by Jackie Mills…we’re not related, published by Cooking Light 2008