Grilled Corn Salad

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.

Grilled Corn Salad Recipe

  • Yield: Serves 4.

Ingredients

  • 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

Method

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.

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23 Comments

  1. iffet

    Hi,
    Salads are very good choice to eat for the hot summer days and what a simple salad to make.

  2. CJ

    What a coincidence. We made corn salad last night and plated it atop baby greens with some tortilla chips on the side. The kids thought it was “cool” to eat their “chip dip” as a salad. We thought it was cool that they were eating extra vegetables.
    The only thing we did differently was to add a can of cumin scented black beans to extend the recipe (a couple of their friends stayed for dinner).

    Great recipe Elise! Love the summer recipes!

  3. nikkipolani

    Thank you for the non-grill version, Elise! Wonder if it will work in a wok.

  4. ann

    Trader Joe’s sells frozen roasted corn that would be perfect for this. Looking forward to serving this at my next bbq!

  5. Lydia (The Perfect Pantry)

    Your dad is right — this is a great summer salad, but as you can make it with frozen corn, it could really work all year round, too.

  6. RebeccaC

    Looks delicious. I use something like this as a salsa — fabulous on quessadillas or fajitas. Yum!

  7. Irene

    Ooooh, I made something similar to this a few months ago, but didn’t roast the corn and the recipe also had diced avacado in it. I think this one is going to a July 4th BBQ with me though (in Carmichael!). Thanks Elise!

  8. goola

    How can cotija compare with feta? The grilling method is preferred right?

    Cotija is a Mexican cheese and feta a Greek cheese. The flavors of this salad are Southwestern, so cotija is probably more appropriate, but feta will do too. Regarding grilling or not grilling, 6 of one, half dozen of the other. It all depends on your cooking set up. If you have a grill, and it’s a hot summer day and you don’t want to get your kitchen hot by cooking in it, then grilling is a great way to go. If on the other hand you don’t want to bother with getting the grill going, you can easily make this on the stove top. Grilling will give more smokey flavor, stove-top more from browning. ~Elise

  9. KD

    This reminds me of a salad I learned to make in Asia: corn, cucumbers, tomatoes, ham, sea salt and fresh ground black pepper. It wasn’t seared, but I enjoyed it. I’ll have to try this one and see which I like better :)

  10. Dewi

    Dinner tonight? Problem solved. This looks delish!

  11. Kimi @ The Nourishing Gourmet

    This sounds very refreshing! It sounds perfect for a hot evening (like today!).

  12. Karina

    Grilled corn is so sweet. What a wonderful way to feature it. Beautiful!

  13. Eren

    I just made this, and wow! Your dad was right to insist, thank you!

  14. Dragon

    I think I would serve this salad with some homemade pita chips. I brush my pita chips with oil and sprinkle paprika, salt and pepper. I might skip the paprika this time and sprinkle cumin instead for this salad. Looks delicious!

  15. brad

    I make a very similar corn salad in the winter using frozen corn and hominy roasted in the oven.

  16. Baxter

    I made this dish over the weekend with great results. A tip for roasting bell peppers, after they come off the grill but them in brown paper bags, e.g. lunch bags, to cool. The bag helps retain some heat and moisture, which results in the pepper being easier to peel.

  17. Lyndee

    The perfect meal to take for lunch the next day. I love it!

  18. Tonya

    We had this for dinner last night as a side to the red chile grilled chicken. Very tasty! My boyfriend — the in-house grill guru — said it was a lot of work, but the end result was well worth it!

  19. Lucinda

    Oh, I just made this salad for a Fourth of July BBQ. It is so good. Thank you for posting. FYI… I didn’t think it was so much work for a salad. Well worth any effort it may be!

  20. Alli

    The grocery store was out of zucchini so I substituted with 2 peaches, and the flavor was just awesome, complimented the cumin perfectly!
    Great recipe – will defiantly be making this again!! Thank you!

  21. Katie

    I absolutely LOVE this recipe! The no-grill version works very well, and I highly recommend toasting the cumin. The one change I made was that I serve it right away; I liked it better straight off the “grill” than I did chilled.

  22. Aquarijenn

    I made this tonight for dinner and it was amazing! The sweetness of the corn offset the lime juice perfectly. I omitted the cheese and onion and added a can of seasoned black beans and diced tomatoes. I can’t wait to have some for lunch tomorrow. Thanks for the great recipe!

  23. Jessica

    I’ve made this salad twice and I love it! Though corn off the cob is not usually my preference, I might even prefer this salad to a messy cob :) The last time I made it, for a potluck BBQ, it was gone before anyone could get seconds!! I definitely recommend giving it a try.

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