There are, I think, three essential ingredients to this salad – corn, which you can grill or even prepare by toasting frozen kernels on the stovetop, onions, and cumin. The rest is a medley of whatever fresh vegetables you might have on hand. In this case I had zucchini and a serrano chile pepper from my garden and a big red bell pepper. I tossed in some cotija cheese for good measure. Although this is a grilled corn salad the other vegetables benefit from some searing heat as well. A simple seasoning of cumin, salt, pepper, olive oil and vinegar or lime juice pulls everything together. I made this for my parents today and my father insisted that “this one needs to go on the site” while polishing it off. Enjoy.
- 4 ears of corn, do not shuck (or 2 1/2 cups frozen corn for the non-grill option)
- 1 large red bell pepper
- 1 5-inch long zucchini, sliced in half lengthwise
- 1/2 cup chopped red onion
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
- 1 serrano chili pepper, seeded and minced (optional)
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin (best if you toast whole cumin seeds then grind)
- 1/4 cup crumbly salty cheese such as feta or cotija (optional)
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 Tbsp cider vinegar or lime juice
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 Prepare your grill for high, direct heat. Oil the grill grates. Rub a little olive oil over the bell pepper. Place the corn (in their husks) and red bell pepper directly on the grill grates. (See our method for grilling corn-on-the-cob.) Cover the grill.
Turn corn occasionally, so that every part of the husk is blackened. Turn the red bell pepper occasionally until the skin has blistered up all around it. This should take 15 to 20 minutes.
For the last 5 minutes or so, rub olive oil over the zucchini pieces and place the zucchini pieces directly on the grill grate, cut side down. Turn them over after a few minutes when they have some nice grill marks on them. Let them cook for just a minute or two on the other side.
1a - no grill version Alternatively you can prepare the vegetables on the stove-top. Shuck the corn and use a knife to remove the kernels from the cobs. If you don't have fresh corn, you can easily use frozen. Coat the bottom of a large, sturdy relatively stick-free (can use cast iron) pan with a little olive oil. Heat the pan to high. Spread out the corn kernels on the pan. If frozen, they will defrost almost immediately. Don't stir them that much, just let them cook, stirring occasionally, until they start to toast. When they get a little browned, remove them from the pan to a bowl. Lay the zucchini pieces on the pan and brown on both sides, do not over cook, remove from pan. The bell pepper does not need to be cooked, it can just be seeded and chopped fine.
2 Let the corn cool down for a few minutes and pull back the husks. Stand the corn husks vertically, tip facing down, in a large shallow bowl or baking dish. Use a sharp knife to make long, downward strokes, removing the kernels from the cob, as you work your way around the cob.
Once the bell pepper has cooled a bit, remove the outer peel. Cut open the pepper, remove the seeds and stem. Chop the bell pepper into small pieces.
Slice the slightly browned zucchini again lengthwise and chop into small pieces.
3 Place grilled or toasted corn kernels, chopped bell pepper, chopped zucchini, red onion, cilantro, and serrano (if using) into a large bowl. Add the cumin, olive oil, vinegar or lime juice, and crumbly cheese (if using). Mix gently. Salt and pepper to taste.
Serve cold or at room temperature.