Something was nagging at me as I headed into the home stretch, back from running errands. I ticked off my list, I was done and ready to get on with other business. Then it hit me.
It was corn.
Rumor had it that the neighborhood farm stand up the hill was selling fresh corn. Did I really want to go and see if it was true? Fresh corn sells out in a hurry. I deliberated, and made a fast U-turn. Yes, it was worth it, nothing says “Welcome to Summer” like freshly picked corn.
Corn on the cob is fabulous, but I was also ruminating over a charred corn salad. The basis was already in the fridge; it stemmed from 2 small fat red peppers picked from my new pimento plant. Apparently, the same little peppers are dried and ground for paprika. They have a robust, sweet flavor with a slight heat—absolutely delicious.
Along with the luscious red pepper, there was crunchy fennel, celery, shallot and cucumber, plus fresh herbs and a light vinaigrette. Tasty, but I pictured it including charred corn.
With the beautiful fresh corn in tow, I returned home. Later I fired up the grill and prepped the corn. I pulled back the husks, removed their loose silk, and twisted a handful of husk from each for convenient handles. Once well-heated, the corn goes on the grill. The sound of popping corn is warning that the kernels are beginning to sear and near ready to turn. They are done when evenly charred on all sides.
After the corn cools, the kernels need to be carefully cut from the cob. To remove, hold the corn upright and slice downward from the top with a sharp chef’s knife.
Sweet roasted corn is addictive, it needs nothing. Save one cup or more for the prepped salad; brighten with fresh lime and season to taste with more salt and pepper. For the height of enjoyment, serve the salad as soon as possible—but it’s still very good the next day.
This also makes a delicious salsa atop pork or grilled burgers; spice it up a bit more with hot pepper flakes. Add it to pasta for instant pasta salad…
Charred Corn Salad
½ cup fennel plus fronds, thin slice
½ cup celery plus leaves, thin slice
½ cup seedless cucumber, thin slice
½ cup red peppers, seed thin slice
½ cup shallots, or green onion, thin slice
⅓ cup cilantro, chop
2 Tbsp fresh herbs, such as thyme, marjoram, and/or savory
1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp fresh herbs: thyme, marjoram and/or savory
¼ tsp each salt and pepper
3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 ear corn, 1 cup charred kernels or more
1-2 Tbsp lime juice
salt and pepper to taste
- Prepare all vegetables except corn and toss with vinaigrette. Chill or set aside.
- To prep corn, peel the husk back and remove all silk. Save some of the husk to maneuver corn on grill.
- To roast the corn, heat outdoor or stovetop grill to medium/high to high. Place the corn on the grill with husks extending off the grill as a handy handle. Turn corn as needed to roast kernels on all sides; this will take 5-10 minutes depending on grill and heat. Remove the corn, and cool.
- To remove kernels, stand corn upright on board or in wide bowl and run a chef’s knife down the length of the corn, quickly cutting the corn off the cob and turning until all corn has been removed.
- Add the fresh roasted corn to the marinating vegetables and toss well. Drizzle with fresh lime juice, adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
- For salsa, add a bit more lime juice and spice it up with hot pepper flakes to taste. Serve fresh or chill. Makes 4 cups.