Sunday, May 25, 2014

Grilled Corn Salad with Basil Dressing

Grilled Corn Salad 

My summer menu is made up of the following:
1. Anything that can be thrown on a grill, and
2. Salads.

Just like I associate soups and casseroles with fall and winter, summer is all about the salads in my house. I've been collecting a list of "want to try" salad recipes since the first signs of spring many weeks ago. Now, on this unofficial opening weekend to summer, I bring you the first salad in what I'm calling my "Summer Salad Series." I'll be trying out new salad recipes and sharing them with you here.

This first recipe, adapted from a Bobby Flay recipe, easily soared to the top of my go-to salad recipes. I'll be bringing this one to picnics and barbeques for the rest of the summer. It's that good. The combination of grilled corn and an herb dressing make this the perfect summer side dish.

So let's start with the dressing, shall we?

Mix the following ingredients:
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
8-10 basil leaves
1 t. sugar
Salt and pepper to taste

I used my immersion blender because it's so easy for this type of recipe. If you don't have one, just put the ingredients in a blender. By the way, it doesn't have to be a completely consistent mixture - a few chunks of basil is fine. 

Doesn't the color just look like a refreshing summer dressing?

The dressing can be made ahead and refrigerated until ready to use. That's what I did. Also, this is such a refreshing dressing that I think it would be perfect on a pasta salad as well. Just an idea.

Now for the grilled corn. If you have a go-to method for grilling corn on the cob, then by all means use your way. Here's how I did mine.

I always do all my corn cleaning in the sink. When it's all done, I just remove the husks to the trash can. With all the silk and husks, it seems to make a mess if I do it anywhere else. I peeled back the husks (without removing them) and cleaned off the silk from the corn. I took off the outer layers of husk, but left on enough that would cover the corn back up.

When I finished cleaning the 8 ears of corn, I put the husks back over the corn and soaked them in a pan of water for about 15 minutes. This process helps prevent the husks from catching on fire once they are on the grill.

Once they are on the grill, turn them every 5 minutes until the kernels are tender when pierced with a fork. On low heat, these took about 20 minutes total. 

It's okay if some kernels are showing and it's okay if they get a little blackened. Color equals flavor when it comes to grilled corn. You don't want it to be completely charred, but a little bit is fine.

Here are my 8 yummy grilled corn on the cobs. I could have stopped here, spread on some herb butter and just eaten corn for dinner, but I really wanted to try the dressing out on this salad.

Cut the corn off the cob and put it in a large serving bowl. Leaving the chunks  of corn in tact gives it a more rustic look I think.

Quarter a pint of cherry tomatoes and add them to the salad.

Add some onion for flavor. Depending on your taste, you may want to choose a different type of onion, but I really like red onions in salad. I only used a couple of tablespoons of finely diced onions, because the taste goes a long way in a marinated salad.

Pour on the dressing, mix well, and serve cold.

Top with feta cheese and serve as a side to anything grilled.

Topping variations: This would be amazing with some diced Anaheim peppers, bacon, or avocado. Just a suggestion.

Final Thoughts: This is not a "throw together" salad. It takes some time and planning ahead. We've eaten leftovers of this salad, and it tastes just as delicious the second day. Yum! So happy kickoff to summer and I hope you are enjoying some great summer food wherever you are!

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