It is starting to warm up around here and my mind is quickly heading in the direction of Summer. Maybe it is heading that direction because my children only have a few weeks of school left and I am madly planning their Summer activities.
Bored kids can be unpleasant.
Moms with bored kids can be unpleasant.
Aside from the occasional bout of unpleasantness, I really love summer; and I particularly love summer cooking. To me, summer food is light and fresh and most often grilled and nothing beats dining al fresco.
If you hadn’t heard, Arizona Summers are HOT and the last thing anyone wants to do is turn on the stove or the oven. Instead we stand outside, 116 degrees, gentle breeze blowing – as if straight from a hair dryer – and grill. Truthfully, we grill all year-long and probably should be cooking inside in the air conditioning but that just isn’t very summerish now is it?
Besides, there is nothing quite like grilling in a fabulous outdoor kitchen. Would you like to see my fabulous outdoor kitchen?
So would I.
I promise, I’m not poking fun at my hard-workin’ committed DIYer husband who hasn’t had the time yet to move beyond the dry stacking stage. He is way more than capable of building the best outdoor kitchen ever … if only there were about six more hours in a day.
If anyone knows a good (reasonably priced) stone mason in the area you would be my new best friend and my husband would have the best Father’s Day gift ever.
For now, we make do with Old Bessie – I totally just made that up, we don’t really call our ancient gas grill Old Bessie but maybe now we will.
She’s not pretty but she get’s the job done.
I apologize to anyone with the name Bessie.
Back to the grilled corn salad. Crunchy refreshing salads are the best and I was very excited to give this new one a try. My way, of course.
Grilled Corn Salad
Adapted from “Festive Corn Salad”, Quick and Easy Mexican Cooking by Cecilia Hae-Jin Lee
2 cups grilled corn kernels (cut from 3 cobs of corn depending on size)
1 grilled zucchini, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 ripe tomato, chopped
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup red onion, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
I wanted to try this recipe right away but sadly, I was a little early for really good fresh corn. As I couldn’t find any still in the husk, I decided to settled for the only fresh corn that I could find …
To grill them start to finish, they really need to be in the husks (we’ll talk about that when the good stuff starts showing up at the Farmer’s Market) so I had to improvise.
For corn on the cob, I bring a pot of water to a boil, put the corn in, bring it back to a boil, cover and boil for five minutes.
To get the grilled look and flavor I was after, I then misted the corn with a little olive oil and put them on a very hot grill. If you don’t have an oil mister, get one. Today. Trust me.
The grill needs to be hot because you want the char marks and flavor but you want them quickly so the corn doesn’t overcook and dry out.
Halve the zucchini, mist it with olive oil and season it with salt and pepper and then put it on the grill with the corn – just for a few minutes you don’t want it over cooked and mushy.
Perfect. Now to put the salad together.
Side note on grilled zucchini, it is a great kid veggie as it is the perfect soft texture for them to practice cutting with a knife and fork. I have a set of kid silverware with very safe knives. I start ’em early cutting soft fruits too. They love it!
This is NOT a kid safe knife but my kid is holding it for me so that I can hold the corn and the camera. Now that is trust; but I just had to show you my favorite trick for cutting corn off of the cob. Besides, he’s almost nine and is pretty handy to have around.
Just turn a small bowl upside down in a larger bowl, balance the flat end of the corn on the smaller bowl and slice down with a sharp knife. If you are not trying to photograph the process, two hands should be enough.
The corn kernels fall off into the larger bowl. No mess.
I wish I could say I thought of it but I picked it up somewhere on the Food Network.
Next, chop and add the zucchini, bell pepper, tomato, cilantro, onion and jalapeno.
When a fine dice or mince are called for, just cut small strips (julienne) and then make perfect little pieces.
With jalapeno or other hot peppers, most of the heat is in the veins and seeds so remove those with a paring knife before you dice the pepper. I don’t mind the heat but I don’t want the little seeds in my salad.
Next add the olive oil, lime juice, salt and pepper and mix well.
Serve at room temperature or chilled from the fridge.
You can make it a day ahead and it will keep fine.
I have made this salad a few times now and served it above with tequila lime chicken.
Oh, I’ll tell you about that tomorrow.
And that, over there on the side, peeking over the chicken, that is an avocado salad; watch for that one too.
When I made corn salad last weekend to take to a luncheon, I did it a little differently. I didn’t have time to grill the corn or zucchini so I used 2 cans of corn (drained) and sautéed them and the diced zucchini in a few tablespoons of butter for five minutes. As a last-minute add, I also diced up two mangos and tossed those in the salad for a sweet touch that was very well received.
Play around with your favorite ingredients. Make it your own and enjoy!