Goin’ corn nuts? Make salad
Henri enjoys end-of-summer corn bounty with a favorite recipe
“Look at this,” Colette said, stepping into the house the other afternoon holding two large brown paper bags by their handles.
She walked over to where Henri was lying on the couch watching season three of Doogie Howser, M.D. “I stopped at one of those highway produce stands on my way home from Roseville and picked this up. Can you believe it?” She held a bag open for me to see. Both bags were full of fresh corn.
“Just what we need,” I said. “More produce. We’ve already got peppers, eggplant, cucumbers, tomatoes, zucchini and basil from our own garden. Do we actually need to spend money on more?”
She scowled. “Ten ears for a dollar. Not exactly gonna break the bank, little brother. Besides, remember that corn salad?”
“I do,” I said. “Delish. But you’ve got enough here to make corn salad for the cast of Gandhi, with some left over for a Waltons reunion.”
“Very funny. Besides, I have a plan. The guy I bought it from told me you can freeze it. So, I’ll make some for dinner, then we can keep eating corn this fall. That is, unless you object.”
How could I? Her corn and avocado salad, adapted from a Mark Bittman recipe (from How to Cook Everything), is an absolutely delicious side dish that goes with just about any main course—and in fact is hearty enough that it could be a main course itself, especially if you add shrimp (see recipe). And it’s perfect for this time of the year when exceptional fresh local corn is available for about a quarter an ear, sometimes a dime—and it takes all of a half hour to prepare. Looking for a good potluck dish? Look no further.
Colette’s Corn and Avocado Salad
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
6 ears corn
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 tsp. chili powder
Course-ground salt and fresh-ground pepper to taste
1 tomato, chopped
1 avocado, cubed
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
2 limes (or 2 tbsp. lime juice)
Using a sharp knife, remove kernels from ears. Heat oil in large skillet, add corn (see note below regarding cooking corn) and cook on high for about a minute without stirring. Then stir, and cook another 4-5 minutes, or until slightly brown. Turn off heat and add onion, bell pepper, chili powder, salt and pepper. Transfer to large salad bowl, let cool, and add tomato, avocado and cilantro; stir in lime juice.
Serve warm, room temperature, or chilled.
Notes: 1) You can cook all the corn (as above), or cook just half of it, or none at all. If it’s exceptionally fresh try leaving it all uncooked. It’s good all three ways. 2) To freeze the corn for later, husk the ears and blanch—cook in boiling water for 8-10 minutes then immediately place ears in large bowl of ice water for 5-7 minutes. Drain and dry thoroughly with paper towels and place in air-tight freezer bags.
Variations: Use the recipe above as a foundation, and add and subtract ingredients as you see fit. Our favorite addition is shrimp—toss in 8-10 medium (cooked) shrimp when you add the avocado. Bitmann’s recommendations: omit the chili powder and cilantro, and substitute arugula for the avocado and white wine vinegar for the lime juice; or omit the chili powder and avocado and substitute rice vinegar for lime juice and tarragon for the cilantro; or omit the chili powder and lime juice and substitute a cup of feta cheese for the avocado and mint for the cilantro.
You can also use peppers with more heat (poblano, Anaheim) instead of or in addition to the bell.
Other ingredients you might toss in: a 1/4 cup of pomegranate seeds, minced basil, or chopped marinated artichoke hearts; one tablespoon shaved fennel or wasabi mayonnaise; or 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes.