Sunlight filters through the security door as I sit listening to the low hum of the air-conditioner on the wall. It’s the final week of October and… well, I think Summer is well and truly on the way. Yesterday the barometer hit 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit) and today’s predicted to be 34 degrees Celsius (93 degrees Fahrenheit). Definitely the right weather for icy mojitos, trips to the beach and dinners on the balcony as the sun dips beneath the trees.
If you’re one of those nice people who read my last post, you might remember that I contemplated starting a new Summer recipe series. Well, this is the first installment of that series, which I’ve entitled ‘Summer Salads’ for the sake of giving it a name. At my house, salads are eaten all year round, mostly due to the fact that we’re fortunate enough to have mild winters here in Western Australia. Due to this fact, I’ve developed an obscenely large repertoire of salads, both warm and cold, the latter of which I’m going to be sharing with you over the pending Summer months.
Today’s salad is one that I’ve made (possibly) hundreds of times, mostly due to the ease of assembly and the fact that it goes fantastically well with everything from grilled fish to barbecued chicken, tortillas and tacos. I’ve called it a ‘Mexican Corn Salad’ as it’s core ingredients echo those found in many Mexican recipes… but with a slight alteration of ingredients you can transform it into any corn salad you like. I’ve included some of my own variations below, which I hope will be welcome additions to your recipe repertoire over the Summer months. However, as with all of my recipes, I’d encourage experimentation… just remember that with salad recipes, freshness, colour and a balance of ingredients is the key to success.
Mexican Corn Salad
- 2 ears of corn, husked
- 1 avocado, peeled and roughly chopped (or scooped out of the skins with a spoon)
- 1/2 small Spanish (red) onion, finely sliced
- 1/2 punnet (about 150g) cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
- 3/4 cup fresh coriander, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup fresh mint, finely chopped
- zest of 1 lime
- juice from 1 lime (or lemon)
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 fresh red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped (use less if you can’t tolerate chilli)
- sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
Place your corn cobs in a medium saucepan on the stovetop and cover with fresh water. Bring to the boil. Boil for 1-2 minutes, then drain and immediately refresh in cold water to stop the cooking process. When your corn cobs are cool enough to handle, place them upright onto a chopping board and use a sharp knife to remove the kernels (see below). Place the kernels into a medium-sized bowl to continue the cooling process.
Once your corn has sufficiently cooled, add your remaining vegetables to the bowl. Mix together your lime or lemon juice, lime zest, olive oil, salt and pepper in a screw-top jar. Replace the lid and shake briefly. Taste and adjust as necessary (if you find that your dressing is too acidic, you can add in a little bit of honey). Pour over your salad and toss to combine.
So that’s your finished salad. For a Mexican-style feast, I’d suggest that you serve a spoonful wrapped in warm flour tortillas with some sliced grilled chicken, guacamole, shaved queso manchego viejo (delicious Mexican hard cheese, substitute with Cheddar or Parmesan) and some herb-infused sour cream. To make the lemony, herby sour cream, just place about 100ml of sour cream into a bowl and add in the juice of half a lemon, freshly chopped mint and coriander, a pinch of dried mint, a little ground cumin, sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Top with a drizzle of lemon oil, then dollop over your tortilla filling. Deliciously easy and a great crowd-pleaser.
- As above-mentioned, this salad is very open to adjustments and substitutions. To keep with the Mexican theme, you can feel free to add in some sliced red peppers (capsicum), finely chopped cucumber or grated cheese. To transform it into a more traditionally Australian salad, omit the tomatoes, lime, Spanish onion and chilli, then substitute in some quartered baby beets, crumbled feta and sliced spring onions. The dressing stays the same, except that I’d recommend using lemon instead of lime. This is a delicious accompaniment to barbecues.
- If you’d like to serve this salad as a main meal with some grilled chicken or fish, just add in about half a cup of cooked white quinoa or brown rice. Double the dressing, and add in a squeeze of honey for sweetness. This is great with a spoonful of the herb-infused sour cream on the side.
- Another delicious serving suggestion is to pile a spoonful of this salad into a taco shell with fried ground beef or Chili Con Carne, grated cheese and some herb-infused sour cream. Add salsa or guacamole as desired.
- The normal ratio of oil to acid (vinegar or citrus juice) in salad dressings is 3:1, however in this recipe I’ve reduced the oil component as I like the freshness of the vegetables to be unobscured by oiliness. Test your salad and adjust it to suit your personal taste.
- There’s no replacement for fresh corn in this salad. Frozen and canned corn kernels will do in a pinch, but they won’t have the sweet juiciness that fresh corn kernels have. If you’re going to use frozen corn, I’d suggest cooking the kernels as briefly as possible to prevent them from becoming waterlogged.
So that’s the first installment of my ‘Summer Salads’ series completed… check back here in a couple of weeks for the next recipe: Baby Beet Salad with balsamic onions, goat’s feta, soft herbs and toasted walnuts.