The unofficial end of the summer is just days away. Labor Day. The last BBQs of the summertime often happen this weekend and I’m sharing with you the perfect side dish to bring along to any party!
It’s corn season, the time of year when fresh corn is still warm in its husk. I notice lots of farmers market shoppers buying dozens of ears of corn to feed lots of hungry corn-lovers. As I child, I used to go with my grandparents to their local farm-stand in Toledo, OH. An older gentleman, “Honest Joe”, sold us his bi-color sweet corn at the end of the summer. I remember those ears of corn, my grandma cooked them in her large pot with a spoonful or salt and a spoonful of sugar, then placed a huge pile of cooked cobs on the table. Alongside was a stick of margarine (butter was feared in the 80s), a shaker of salt and a pepper grinder. I loved to cover my corn with margarine and lots of freshly-ground black pepper, the smell of the sweet corn permeating my grandma’s tiny kitchen.
Although many years have passed since the summers of eating Honest Joe’s sweet corn, I still associate the end of summer with eating corn. And while it’s fun to eat corn right from the cob, there are times when it’s easier to serve a crowd and to make a corn salad. I’ve made plenty of corn salads over the years, sometimes I make a salad in the dead of winter when I’m dreaming of the warm summertime air; I’ll use frozen organic corn, which is an excellent pantry item to keep on-hand in your freezer! But since it’s corn season right now, there are no excuses for not using fresh corn on the cob! Of course, I got mine from my CSA share from One Straw Farm.
A quick PSA (Public Service Announcement) about corn: please buy organic corn. Please buy your fresh corn from a farmer you know and trust, one who grows corn without GMOs, pesticides, and all the other nasties that are sprayed on crops! And if you can’t find any fresh corn that fits the necessary criteria, your next best option is to buy frozen organic corn, cook in plenty of salted filtered water, and proceed with my recipe. Ok, end of message and back to the salad…
This is a fun salad. And so easy! When diced mango is added to anything, I immediately feel like I’ve been transported to a tropical paradise. Corn and mango are so delicious together, and when I have the patience to dice the mango into smallish pieces, the mango and corn blends seamlessly into a perfect bite. The scallions stay crunchy and add greenery and flavor. The dressing is a simple blend with a powerful kick from the cayenne, but omit the spice and it will still taste nice. (hokey rhyme!) Of course, the pièce de résistance is the addition of crunchy bits of crushed blue corn tortilla chips on top. What could be better than chips on top of a salad? Nothing. It’s so good.
However you plan to spend your time during this long Labor Day weekend, I encourage you to make time for preparing foods that celebrate summer - it may be your last chance to enjoy these foods until next year! I’m looking forward to a lazy Sunday (and Monday) afternoon on my patio with plenty of corn salad, tomatoes on toast, and a glass or two of Rosé wine. Sounds perfect.
Wishing you a relaxing weekend, full of delicious food, health & wellness.
Tropical Crunchy Corn Salad
Ingredients: (note - use organic whenever possible)
3 C corn kernels (from 4 ears of corn, or frozen)
1 T kosher salt
1 ripe mango, peeled and cut into small dice
4 scallions, thinly sliced
2 T freshly-squeezed lime juice
2 T extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 t sea salt
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 t maple syrup
pinch of cayenne (optional)
2 handfuls blue corn tortilla chips, crushed
If using fresh corn on the cob, shuck the corn and rinse under warm water. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add 1 T kosher salt, and the corn. Simmer until the kernels are tender, approximately 8 minutes. Remove from the water, allow to cool to room temperature. Carefully cut the kernels from the cobs into a large mixing bowl.
If using frozen corn, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 1 T kosher salt and 3 C frozen corn kernels. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer until the corn is cooked al-dente, approximately 5-6 minutes. Drain the corn and allow to cool to room temperature before continuing with the recipe.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the corn kernels, diced mango, and scallions. In a small bowl, whisk together the lime juice, extra-virgin olive oil, sea salt, minced garlic, maple syrup, and cayenne (if using). Taste dressing and adjust seasoning, if needed. Pour the dressing over the corn mixture, tossing to coat the ingredients with the dressing. Cover and chill for 30 minutes to let the flavors blend together.
Transfer the salad to a serving bowl and top with crushed blue corn tortilla chips. Serve immediately.
recipe yields 5-6 servings
salad can be made 1 day in advance of serving; top with crushed tortilla chips just before serving
leftovers keep well, although chips will become soggy