July 26, 2013

Dog Days Recipe: Corn Salad

This week's Dog Days Recipe starts here,
with the quintessential summer food staple.

Now I know, it's not desirable to put up a big pot of boiling water to cook corn when your kitchen is already feeling like a sauna. But stay with me. You don't need much boiling water at all to cook corn on the cob, and it needn't boil for more than a few minutes. And, if you boil the corn in the morning when the house is as cool as it's gonna get and use your range exhaust fan (as long as it vents outside, otherwise, set up a fan near the stove and point it towards an open window to draw the hot air and steam outside), it's not bad at all. And the rewards are quite well worth it.
cutting board, chopping knife, & a food processor if you don't mind washing it when you're done

for the salad:
3 fresh-as-can-be cobs of corn
4 celery stalks, chopped (approx. 2 c)
1 red bell pepper, chopped

Other than the corn, the salad is wide open to improvisation. How about radishes? Red or green onion? Shredded jicama? Mince rather than chop the vegetables and you've got salsa rather than salad.

cilantro lime dressing:
1 loose handful of fresh cilantro, minced
zest from 1 lime, minced (approx. 3/4 tsp)
1 tsp minced garlic
2 Tbs lime juice
1/4 c olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp honey
3/4 tsp minced mild jalapeno, seeded - this is for flavor, not heat

Shuck the corn. In a lidded pot large enough to hold all 3 cobs in a single layer, bring 1 1/2 to 2 inches of water to a boil. Place the corn in the boiling water, cover the pot, reduce heat to simmer. The corn will not be submerged. This is fine. You are mostly steaming it rather than blanching it. After 2 minutes, rotate the corn so the sides that were in the water are now facing up. Replace the cover and steam for 1 - 2 more minutes. Remove the corn and set aside to cool. (You can do this step ahead of time, put the cooked corn in the fridge, and prepare the salad later.)

While the corn cools, mix the cilantro lime dressing. I mince and whisk by hand, but if you prefer, throw everything in a food processor and whirl away. (I can't vouch for the texture, though.)

When the corn is cool enough to handle, use a chef's knife or chopping knife to remove the kernels from the cobs. Wrap and freeze the cobs for use in next week's Dog Days Recipe. Yes, really. Put the corn kernels, chopped celery and chopped peppers into a large bowl and stir to mix well. Pour the dressing over the top and mix to distribute. Eat right away or cover and chill for later.

Serve along side Southwestern black bean dip, I like this recipe at Epicurious*, or keep it simple and add a can of rinsed black beans directly to the corn salad for a whole meal salad.

*I do not add any water to this dip. I find there is sufficient moisture in the cooked vegetables to produce the right texture for a dip. Also, I add only a pinch of cayenne. Maybe my cayenne is hotter than all get out, but the one time I followed the recipe and added the called for 1/2 tsp, the dip was too hot to be edible.

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