Grilled Corn Salad

Here's an easy summer salad made with grilled corn, peppers, and zucchini! Serve it with burgers and grilled chicken at your next backyard barbecue. Keeps well, too!

Grilled Corn, Pepper, and Zucchini Salad
Elise Bauer

Do you like corn salad?

If so, you'll love this grilled corn salad.

The only thing better than corn picked during the peak of summer is the same fresh corn-on-the-cob, grilled. You get the caramelization of the natural sugars in the corn, and the warm, smoky flavors from the grill.

Essentials for Grilled Corn Salad

There are, I think, three essential ingredients to this salad—corn, 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.

Corn Salad for Summer Barbecue
Elise Bauer

How to Grill the Corn

The best way to prepare the corn for this recipe is to buy corn on the cob — husk on — and cook it, in its husk, on the grill. The method for doing this is in the recipe below, or you can read through our Grilled Corn on the Cob recipe.

Stovetop Instructions When You Don't Have a Grill

If you don't have a grill, you can easily prepare the corn and zucchini on the stove-top. Cut the corn kernels off the cob and freeze them for 15 minutes or so. Believe it or not, frozen corn is easier to sear on the stovetop than unfrozen corn.

Coat the bottom of a large, sturdy relatively stick-free (can use cast iron) pan with a little olive oil. Heat the pan on high heat. When the pan is hot, add the frozen corn kernels to the pan and spread them out in an even layer. 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 for this recipe; you can simply seed it and chop it fine. If you would like to roast the bell pepper, you can put it under a broiler for several minutes, turning it until it blackens on all sides. Then place it in a bowl and cover it. Let it steam for several minutes, pull off the blackened bits, remove the seeds, and chop the pepper.

How Far Ahead Can You Make This Salad?

This salad keeps well and can be made a day or two ahead of serving. If it seems dry when you're ready to serve it, just toss with a little more olive oil and vinegar.

Picnic Salad with Corn
Elise Bauer

What to Serve With This Salad

This salad is the perfect side dish to serve at backyard barbecues and lazy summer gatherings. Serve it with burgers, grilled steak, or grilled chicken.

Looking for Summer Salads Ideas? Try these!

Grilled Corn Salad

Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 25 mins
Total Time 45 mins
Servings 4 servings

Ingredients

  • 4 ears of corn, do not shuck (or 2 1/2 cups frozen corn for the stovetop 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 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar or lime juice
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Method

  1. Grill the corn, bell pepper, and zucchini:

    Prepare your grill for high, direct heat. Oil the grill grates.

    Rub a little olive oil over the bell pepper. Place the red pepper and the corn (in their husks) 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. Also turn the red bell pepper occasionally until the skin has blistered up all around it. This should take 15 to 20 minutes.

    When the corn and peppers are about 5 minutes away from being done, 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.

  2. Finish prepping the red pepper:

    Place charred bell pepper in a bowl and cover with a plate so that it steams in its own heat. Once the bell pepper has cooled a bit, remove the charred peel.

    Cut open the pepper, remove the seeds and stem. Chop the bell pepper into small pieces.

  3. Cut the kernels from the corn cob:

    Let the corn cool down for a few minutes and pull back the husks.

    Take a small bowl and turn it upside down in a larger bowl. Stand the corn husks vertically, tip facing down, on top of the upside down small bowl. (You can also use the center of an upturned bundt pan.)

    Use a sharp knife to make long, downward strokes, removing the kernels from the cob, as you work your way around the cob.

  4. Chop zucchini:

    Slice the grilled zucchini again lengthwise and chop into small pieces.

  5. Assemble and serve the salad:

    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.

    ingredients for corn salad in bowl
    Elise Bauer
    mixed corn salad in bowl
    Elise Bauer