July 1, 2014

Grilled Corn Salad


My whole life I thought I didn't like grilled corn. All those warm summer evenings, while my husband was outside throwing meat on the grill, I was in the kitchen. Waiting for the water to boil. So I could cook my corn.

Did I have any inkling that I might be wrong? Maybe a few. Like the fact that almost every other person in the world loves grilled corn. Or that my favorite dish at my favorite restaurant involves grilled corn (though in my defense, that particular grilled corn is slathered with an insanely delicious cotija cheese, lime and butter sauce that I'd eat off a piece of cardboard).

But one day, a few weeks ago, I decided to put my prejudice aside and grill some corn. I have no idea why. And I'm not going to second guess it. Because I realized that I don't dislike grilled corn. I just dislike overcooked grilled corn -- which apparently describes most of the grilled corn I've eaten in my life. Grilled corn that's been cooked within an inch of its life is dry and tough and and shriveled and chewy and sticky. There's nothing about it to like.

But corn that's grilled attentively, turned every few minutes, and taken off at the right moment is a thing of beauty. The kernels are tender and juicy and charred and smoky.

Given that I have decades of missed grilled corn to make up for, I've been making it every day. Some days simply dotted with butter and sprinkled with salt. Other days kicked up with lime juice and cayenne pepper. Then yesterday I grilled the corn, stripped off the kernels, and tossed them with grape tomatoes, mozzarella and basil oil. Voila, corn salad.

Wow. Grilled corn. Who knew?

First, make the basil oil. Put fresh basil in a blender.

Add salt, pepper, lemon juice, and about a tablespoon of olive oil.

Pulse a few times to get the basil going. Then turn on the blender and drizzle in the remaining olive oil while the blender continues to blend. Check for seasoning.

Now on to the corn. Start with fresh corn. Buy it in the husk and don't peel it until you're ready to cook it.

When you're ready, remove the husk and ask many of the silks as you can without driving yourself crazy. (You'll notice that my corn had plenty of silks left!)

Place the corn on the grill over medium heat. Grill, covered, for about 4 minutes.

Then turn the corn and put the cover down again. You want to cook the corn about 12 minutes total, turning every few minutes to make sure it's evenly charred.

Cut the kernels off the cobs into a large bowl.

Add halved grape tomatoes and mozzarella balls.

Drizzle with basil oil.

Mix thoroughly and serve!

Grilled Corn Salad

Recipe from The Garlic Press

1 1/2 to 2 cups packed fresh basil
2 Tbsp lemon juice
black pepper
1/3 cup olive oil
4 ears of corn, husks and silks removed
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved or quartered
8 oz small mozzarella balls

1.    For the dressing, place basil, lemon juice, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, salt and pepper in a blender. Pulse a few times. Then turn blender on and slowly add the rest of the olive oil from above (your blender lid should have a piece that you can remove for this purpose).
2.    Preheat grill over high heat.
3.    Place corn on grill and turn down heat to medium. Grill, covered, for about 12 minutes. Turn the corn every few minutes for even charring.
4.    Remove the corn and let it cool for a few minutes. Using a knife, remove the kernels from the corn into a large bowl. Add tomatoes and mozzarella. Stir to combine.
5.    Drizzle about half of the basil dressing over the salad, then stir to mix. Taste and add more dressing, if desired.
6.    Chill salad until ready to serve.

Serves 4 to 6