Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Grilled Corn Salad

Let me be clear from the get-go: corn salad isn't meant to solve an "excess corn" problem. There is no excess corn problem.

This time of year it's common to find ideas and recipes for extra tomatoes, eggplant, squash, etc. I wish I had an excessively fertile garden and over-productive vines! Instead, I had the need for a good picnic salad - the kind that doesn't need refrigeration; has no delicate components to bruise or wilt; and benefits from some knocking around in transit to mix up the ingredients.

I could have made a grain or bean salad, but I had loaded up on ears of corn earlier in the day. When I moved several ears to make way for my salad, I had an epiphany: they could be the basis of my salad!

I quickly assembled the fixings: corn, red pepper, tomatoes, wild scallion from my sister-in-law's garden and some red onion (I had both on hand, but either one would have been fine) and a little parsley from our own windowsill garden. 

Here's the quick-and-dirty recipe:

1) Cook two ears of corn. I stovetop-grilled them in my beloved cast iron skillet for about 7 minutes (turning regularly), but you could steam the corn or even microwave them (2 squares of paper towels to absorb moisture + 2 ears of corn (husks kept in place) + 5-7 minutes = cooked corn.) The grilling gives a nice smoky effect, but any method will work. Once the corn is cooked, set it aside to cool off. 

2) Chop everything else. I used approximately one small beefsteak tomato, 1/4 of a red pepper, one scallion, a leftover bit of red onion and a handful of parsley. I chopped everything finely.

3) Using a sharp knife, cut the corn kernels from the cob, making sure not to cut into the cob itself. Kernels are tasty in a salad but bits of cob are not. (If you're determined to use the cob, save them for soup stock or corn cob jelly.)

3) Make the dressing: mostly vinaigrette  with a splash or two of soy sauce and a splash or two of hot sauce (or a pinch of ground chipotle or one finely chopped chipotle pepper). Mix thoroughly.

4) Dump everything in a large bowl and mix thoroughly.

Enjoy! The salad is good warm, at room temperature or chilled. It's good as a relish or sneaked into sandwiches, green salads or soups.

Come wintertime, you could probably recreate the salad with frozen corn and imported peppers and herbs. (I would try to hold the line against the undentable pink tomatoes described so vividly in Barry Estabrook's book Tomatoland, but I might lack resolve by January.) But for now, this salad tastes like the juicy last harvest of summer.

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