I get the mystique that surrounds summer salads. They usually involve minimal cooking, are made with fresh ingredients, and (with the exception of things like potato and macaroni salads) tend to be heat-friendly and waist conscious. Bonus! They make use of the myriad fruits and vegetables that come into season in the summer.
That is exactly what makes this corn and blueberry salad so perfect. It’s not entirely no-cook since you have to boil the corn (I suppose you could roast it, but that would involve turning on the stove and it’s 95° out today so as far as that option goes…no) but it’s pretty close, and otherwise you simply chop. It’s seasonal. It’s easy. It’s healthy. And, oh yeah…it’s delicious.
The recipe claims to serve 6-8 people, which I readily believe. It’s easily halved for smaller households. Just, you know. Put in half of everything they ask for; this is corn, not rocket surgery. Anyway. Here we go.
- 6fresh sweet corn, husked
- 1cup fresh blueberries
- 1cucumber, sliced
- 1/4cup finely chopped red onion
- 1/4cup chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped*
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Start your water before you peel the corn so that it will be ready for boiling (or at least almost ready) by the time you’re done peeling and de-hairing your corn. While it’s cooking and cooling, you can measure out and chop the other ingredients. Really, I wasn’t kidding. Simple. Boil it for five minutes and certainly no more than ten. Then pull it out and let it drain. In the meantime, measure out and wash your blueberries…
And chop the rest of the goodies.
Since the primary ingredients in this dish are corn and blueberries–both relatively small–I cut the cucumber to a comparable size. It’s up to you how to cut them but the general practice is to keep ingredients relatively on par with each other and no, I’m not just saying that to placate my own OCD. Granted, it’s a more important guideline when you’re dealing with food that is cooked, but it’s a helpful kitchen guideline nonetheless.
For those of you playing along at home, I would like to point out that that what is pictured is indeed more than a quarter-cup of onions, as is called for in the recipe. I’ve said this before and I mean it every time; if you don’t like onions, you will starve at my house. I even added more into the salad at the end when I tasted it. I don’t apologize. My kitchen, my rules.
I highly recommend that you seed your jalapeño, especially if you’re not absolutely positive that everyone who’s going to eat this likes fiery foods. I’ve made this unseeded before…it goes from summer salad to Ain’t No Joke salad pretty quickly. All the heat lives in the seeds and surrounding membranes, but those are easy to remove with the cunning application of a teaspoon.
A teaspoon will fit quite nicely into the cavity of a jalapeño or serrano or just about any other hot pepper. Dig the spoon under the seeds in the pepper and give it a good, firm scrape.
I wouldn’t even worry about wearing gloves if you de-seed your peppers this way. Everything will come out with the spoon, and you can drop the scrapings in your compost pile and move on. Of course, if you don’t want anything that has any heat at all, by all means use about a half a bell pepper. Use red. It will add some color and has a more robust flavor than a green bell pepper, so it will help compensate for the loss of the grassiness from the jalapeño.
Once the corn is out of the water and cool enough to handle (it can still be sort of warm when you start working with it, you just don’t want to burn yourself), slice the kernels off the cob. For those who don’t know how to do this, it’s pretty simple. Stand your corn in a utility bowl, and slice your knife down the side of it.
For extra fresh corn credit, take your new favorite workhorse utensil–the teaspoon–and run it down the cut sides of the corn cobs. It will pull out even more delicious, sweet corn pulp and in these tough economic time you can be virtuous in using every edible thing on the cob.
And then here’s what you have left to do:
A few things:
1) One lime should render two tablespoons of juice. If your lime is hard and seems like it won’t give up much juice, then by all means, stick it in the microwave for ten seconds. That’s what I did. Voila!
2) Make sure you use a good, fruity, extra-virgin olive oil. You want something that’s got some savory heft of its own, not just a salad oil that disappears into the background.
3) You don’t have to use buckwheat honey. I have it at home right now and chose to use that because I love its complicated flavor profile (please note, I could have used Mr. Clover Honey Bear, sitting in the background on his head, but I didn’t). If what you have is Mr. Honey Bear or agave syrup or whatever, then by all means, use that.
4) Have extra cilantro on hand in case you decide you want some more. 🙂 Just saying.
5) The star ingredient that brings this whole dish to a special plateau is…
Ground cumin gives the dish a little bit of smoke, and a little bit of depth, in a dish that dances on the edge of being one-note-sweet. You can toast and grind your own cumin seeds to get the freshest, deepest flavor possible but if your objective is simplicity, then let the good people of Badia do the grinding for you. When it’s this hot out, stay out of the kitchen when you can.
And now, we combine. Everything. The corn, the berries, the cuke. All your spices. Everything, in a gloriously unceremonious free-for-all. Toss in a little salt and pepper to taste and then? Cover it and stick it in the fridge for at least an hour. If you decide to add any additional spices–more cumin, another bit of cilantro, some pepper–don’t do so until you’ve given the flavors a chance to mingle in your fridge. What may taste a little drab when you first mix it can become a lovely symphony once your ingredients have gotten to know one another. For me, it’s onions. Always gotta be onions.
Once you’re ready to eat…
Don’t be shy. Dig in. And I’ll see you in a shady spot, plate in hand, far away from a hot stove.