When I first spy those lovely ears of corn showing up en masse and piled high at the market, I know just what I want to eat.
And lots of it.
There’s a simple beauty in these salads, and here are my
FIVE REASONS TO LOVE CORN SALAD.
Corn salads hold for hours at room temperature, making them the ideal food for a picnic.
If you hold off on adding the feta (or keep that chilled separately), this salad can hang out all day at room temperature with no loss of flavor or spoilage risk.
These salads are colorful, crunchy, healthy and appealing, allowing them to stand out on a crowded potluck table.
This means that if you bring it to a party, yours is one of the first platters that will be devoured and you’ll never have to endure that walk of shame (you know the one– when you see someone dejectedly carrying their barely touched dish of food back home for all to see).
When you bring corn salad to a potluck, you can have confidence you’re bringing a winner.
They’re inexpensive to make.
When local fresh corn is available (sometimes for as little as a quarter apiece), an enormous bowl of this salad can be pulled together for a very low price — important to consider if you are feeding a huge crowd.
Because making a corn salad means just a one minute blanch of fresh corn and some simple chopping and slicing, there is no reason you can’t pull this together in about 10 minutes.
If it takes longer than that, you’re either overthinking it or multi-tasking. Ten minutes, people (I’ll go as high as 15 only if you’re individually slicing lots of cherry tomatoes or you are Insta-ing your results).
Think of corn as the O positive of the vegetable world; it can work with any kind of vegetable so if you can dream it (or if your fridge or CSA is full of it), there’s a very good chance that it’ll work with a corn salad.
In yesterday’s version, I paired it with sliced fennel, halved cherry tomatoes, avocado, marinated feta and olives and peppadew peppers.
I’ve made this salad perhaps a couple hundred times (once-weekly during the summer for the 25 years since I went to cooking school) and so I’ve made countless different kinds.
Sometimes I add grilled eggplant. Other times I’ve had cucumber play a prominent role. Occasionally I invite grilled shrimp to this party. I’ve also loved this salad with pesto and zucchini.
And other times I’ve just included multiple different varieties of heirloom tomatoes, including these straight from the farmer’s market.
The only common denominator is corn and deliciousness.
And here are my
FIVE TIPS TO MAKING THE BEST CORN SALAD.
Cut the corn off the cob and blanch kernels for one minute and then shock in cold water. You want to just take the slightest edge of the raw corn and you want to preserve its sweetness and crunch, and any longer than that and you risk losing both.
Consider your acid carefully.
When I make this salad, I use very little oil, allowing the sweetness of the corn and the tang of acid to carry the dish to the finish line. Now you could go the red wine vinegar route (or even a combination of lemon and lime juice), but my favorite versions of this dish have either employed rice wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar — both seem to have a strong affinity with corn, playing up its sweetness without drawing undue attention to its tangy presence.
Season each ingredient that’s going in the salad separately, and then add it into the bowl.
Team players each need a little TLC first so that they can carry their flavor load.
Add an herb to really punch it up: I particularly like basil, cilantro or oregano, but if you’re pairing this salad with roast chicken, a little rosemary, marjoram or tarragon would work beautifully, too.
Make more than you can possibly eat at once (but add room temperature tomatoes just before serving as tomatoes and cold aren’t a good combo).
You’re probably thinking — I couldn’t possibly eat that much.
But you can.
And you will. I’ve even added salad leftovers to chicken burritos or eaten it atop a bowl of brown rice. There really is no wrong way to eat it.
And guess what? If you’ve still got leftovers, it’s perfect timing.
Chances are your friends are hungry right this minute and that’s where you jump in and become somebody’s else’s hero.
Few deliveries will be more welcome — or create more fans.
Happy July 4th Weekend, all!