Sunday, August 12, 2018

Corn Salad: Distillation of Late Summer


It was going to be a perfect summer evening, I just knew it. There was an invitation from friends for a dinner on their patio, along with a demonstration after the meal of their newly installed gas fire pit. Grilled pork loin with a guajillo chile sauce was the focus, and when I asked what we could contribute, our host requested a vegetable side dish.

Sweet corn has been on my mind lately, and I pondered the possibilities. A corn pudding, perhaps? But a quinoa salad was already on the menu, so no. But a corn salad? Now there was something to chew on. Recently my brother had a made a salad to go with a grilled paella—albacore, raw corn sliced fresh off the cob and lettuce dressed with light vinaigrette—that had entranced me. And so many of the Mexican dishes that caught my eye while browsing my collection of Diana Kennedy's cookbooks had combinations of right-from-the-field vegetables caught at their peak of ripeness.

So I hit the market and bought whatever seemed to be almost jumping off the tables and into my basket, begging me to bring them home. Again, a simple spritz of lime juice, a splash of olive oil and a showering of salt was all they needed to shine, plus a super-simple avocado crema to serve alongside adding a certain sumptuousness, and my vegetable side was good to go.

Despite a last-minute (but welcome) rain shower just before we arrived, the evening was perfection. And the fire pit? Worked like a charm as we sipped our dessert wine and watched Jupiter transit the twilight sky over the Coast Range.

Corn Salad with Avocado Crema

For the corn salad:
1 15-1/2 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
4 ears corn, kernels sliced fresh off the cob
1/2 red onion, halved lengthwise and slivered crosswise
1/2 large cucumber, seeded and diced, or two small Persian cucumbers, chopped
1 large ripe tomato, chopped (about 2 c.)
1 Tbsp. fresh-squeezed lime juice
1 Tbsp. olive oil
Salt to taste

For the avocado crema:
1 c. milk
1 clove garlic
2 avocados
2 Tbsp. lime juice
1 c. sour cream
Salt to taste

In a large mixing bowl combine the black beans, corn kernels, onion, cucumber and tomato. Pour in the lime juice and olive oil and stir gently to mix.

In the bowl of a food processor pour in the milk and add the garlic, avocados and lime juice. Process until completely smooth, scraping down the sides as necessary to incorporate all the ingredients. Add sour cream and pulse until just mixed, then add salt to taste.

The crema makes almost four cups, which is more than enough to serve a small amount alongside the salad, but it is also spectacular as a dip for chips or in tacos or burritos. It'll keep for at least a week stored in the fridge, so don't be afraid to make the whole batch. (It can also be halved if you don't want to make the whole amount.)

No comments: