Fresh Corn Salad
Corn has gotten a bad rap recently. With the bad press surrounding high fructose corn syrup and the prevalence of corn derivatives (corn starch, corn oil, not to mention all the derivatives that don’t even have corn in the name) in processed foods, it’s easy to forget how delicious, flavorful and inherently perfect sweet summer corn is. We spend a lot of time and energy turning corn into something other than corn. With the last breath of summer quickly slipping into fall, I hope you will take advantage of the harvest season to whip up this simple corn salad.
In its unprocessed form, corn is a the sweet princess of the vegetable community (though technically a grain). Sweet as candy, it’s hard to classify corn in the same category as carrots or celery. This simple salad plays up the natural sweetness of fresh corn with apple cider vinegar and some mild onions. Mixed together with fresh herbs and a perfect seasoning of salt and pepper, this simple corn salad is a reminder of how truly splendid corn can be when it’s allowed to just be corn.
This is the quintessential side dish. My rule of thumb is that a side dish should take no more than 1/3 the time or energy than it takes to make the main meal. This couldn’t be more true for this corn salad. The whole thing can be ready in less than 15 minutes. You want to start with the freshest corn you can possibly get your hands on. The fresher the corn, the sweeter the kernels, the better your salad. It’s not rocket science.
After shucking the corn (who doesn’t love to say they just shucked a bunch of corn?), boil the cobbs in a big pot of water for just a few minutes. You don’t want to overcook the corn. The kernels should still have some crunch to them. Pull them out of the pot and throw them in a collander under cold water or into a bowl of cold water. This will stop the cooking and ensure that you avoid mushy, overcooked corn.
Once the cobs are cool, cut the kernels off into a big bowl. Toss in the scallions or shallots, olive oil, cider vinegar and season it up with salt and pepper. Toss in whatever fresh herbs you prefer and you are done. I used fresh thyme (which apparently is my herb of choice) which lends an earthy flavor to the dish, but you could easily use fresh basil. Doesn’t get much more simple than that? Throw it in the fridge if you want to serve it cold or just devour it at room temperature. Either way it’s delicious.
Corn … allowed to just be corn.
Fresh Corn Salad
Total Time: 10 minutes
4-5 ears of corn, shucked
3 scallions, light green portion only, diced (or 1 large shallot)
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon good olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (or more to taste)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons fresh thyme or fresh basil leaves
- Cook corn in boiling water for about 3 minutes. Immediately drain and run under cold water to stop the cooking.
- Cut kernels off the corn. In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients and stir to combine. Serve chilled or at room temperature.
Adapted from Ina Garten's Fresh Corn Salad