Monday, July 2, 2012

of Southwestern Grilled Corn Salad

Growing up where I did, one of the harbingers of summer time to me has always been fresh corn. From an early age, I have been in charge of the shucking as well as getting the little silky hairs off the delicious kernels. Even though I've grown up, the simple act of preparing corn to cook has always evoked memories of hot July or August cookouts where my sisters and cousins and I would race to shuck enough corn to feed a small army (or a few very hungry families) and wait rather impatiently for our ears of corn as they were served. I've had corn on the cob all kinds of ways and truly enjoy them all. Recently though, grilled corn has been my go to strictly because I love the savory smoky flavor that the corn is imbued with through this method.

In all my history of corn on the cob eating I only had a brief period where I ever ate it off the cob, my braces phase was one of the worst roadblocks to my love of food ever. I think, had I even known this salad existed somewhere in the world (or my mind) I would have felt much better as everyone congregated around the spoils of our BBQ and dug in. Pinterest is a constant source of inspiration for me and this salad is my kind of cobbled together testament to summer deliciousness. I love that I now have access to all sorts of recipes and blogs I would never have known existed. And so it was with this that Southwestern Grilled Corn Salad came into existence. This little number packs a punch of spice that can hold up against any kind of grilled accompaniments. In fact I often eat this as a main dish and forgo any thought of pairing it up. Let's get to it then...

Today's Cast of Characters:

We are going pretty healthy foods wise today with: corn, preferably grilled but because I don't have a grill I dry sauté  in a pan for that roasty toasty flavor; black beans; avocados; red onion, chopped super fine; a bell pepper, any color; olive oil (which i totally forgot to put in the picture); smoked paprika; cayenne pepper; white wine vinegar; garlic; and salt. If you want it extra spicy you could use smoked hot paprika and its great this way but I prefer it to be spicy with hints of smoky flavor so I just use regular smoked. The cayenne pepper gives it just enough kick and the vinegar also adds a bit of a sharp flavor. I'm actually thinking of trying the dressing out on other things too just to see if the flavors combine as nicely with other things.

What to do:

Usually I start by chopping up my onion super fine. My sister taught me a trick that makes this just absolutely a snap. Chop the onion in half, then take one half of the onion and cut super slim slits not quite all the way to the back. Then turn the onion half and repeat the process. You end up with super fine dice and way less of a headache.

After the onion is chopped do a rough dice of the bell pepper. Nice bite size chunks are what you are going for with this one. Try to keep them smaller so that they blend with the kernels of corn.

Open the can to strain your black beans and you are basically done with prep.

Next I usually tackle the corn. I prefer corn grilled, especially with this recipe and if you have a grill please use it to get the best possible result. If you don't you can use this cheating method I found online. First scrape all the kernels into a bowl from the ear. I place the corn tip side down and just run a knife along the core. Try not to get too much core in your corn, it leads to unpleasant me. Today Sharon got in on the fun!

After the corn is all de-eared heat a large pan on high or medium high heat until it is very hot. then put the corn in and spread to a single layer. You may have to do these next steps more than once and that's ok. It is more important that the corn is spread out in a single even layer.

Cook the corn for a total of 5 minutes stirring/flipping the corn once or twice. I let the corn sit for about 2 or 3 minutes before the first stirring to make sure it gets caramelized. I like it to be very dark brown to black in the salad to more thoroughly replicate the grilled corn.

As the corn is finishing up get a large bowl and put in all the spices and the garlic. Mix with a fork and make sure the garlic is more separated before adding the oil, and the vinegar. Whisk with a fork until well combined. You've just completed the dressing!

Dump in your black beans, onion and bell pepper. Pour the warm corn over the mix and give it a good stir. Once it is looking well mixed take a small taste to see if you need to add more of any spice. Resist the urge to chow down on the warm mix. You have things to finish.

Once you have determined the seasoning for your salad, the very last thing to do is add the avocado. Dice the avocado up, and plop it in to the salad. Give the salad a very gentle stir so as not to crush the avocado. After it is all mixed in its ready to go. I like to eat it warm but it is just as delicious cold or at room temperature. Another great thing about this salad is that the acidity of the vinegar will prevent the avocado from browning. You can easily make this ahead and serve it cold the next day.

Serve up the salad as a salsa, a side dish, a topping, or a main dish. It is extremely versatile and can even tolerate additions like cheese, sliced steak, or chicken. The most important thing for you to do is enjoy!

Southwestern Grilled Corn Salad


6 Ears of Corn, grilled
1 Can of Black Beans, no salt added
2 Avocados
1/2 Bell Pepper
1/2 Red Onion
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 Tsp Cayenne Pepper
1 Tsp Smoked Paprika
1 Tsp Salt
2 Tbsp White Wine Vinegar
4 Tbsp Olive Oil


1. Finely dice your onion. First cut the onion in half, then cut little slivers that do not quite reach the back of your half of the onion. Next turn the onion and repeat the slivering process until you reach where you have not cut. Run your knife through this section a few times to try to match the dice of the rest of the onion, reserve.
2. Chop up your bell pepper into bite sized pieces. Open can and strain and rinse black beans. Reserve these two things for a bit.
3. Remove corn from ears by slicing into a bowl with the tip side down. If it is already grilled you are finished. If not, spread into a single layer in a hot pan with no oil and cook for 5 minutes stirring once. Repeat as needed until all corn is roasted.
4. In a large bowl mix garlic, salt, cayenne pepper, and smoked paprika. Once everything is incorporated pour in vinegar and olive oil. Whisk with a fork until thoroughly mixed.
5. Add in onion, bell pepper, black beans and corn. Give it a good stir until mixture is evenly coated.
6. Dice up the avocado and add to mix. Fold in gently until it is evenly spread throughout the salad.
7. Serve and Enjoy!

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