It’s just about that time of the year when American-grown corn has begun to appear in our markets, and, from tortillas to polenta a more versatile veggie is hard to imagine. White corn is the sweetest, but it sacrifices some flavor in order to achieve that sweetness. Yellow corn is the most flavorful, but it sacrifices some sweetness in order to achieve that flavor. So … choose the obvious compromise: bi-colored corn, which is a tad more expensive but entirely worth the few extra cents. Whether you’re just eating the cooked corn straight off the cob, or making something far more elaborate, bi-colored is the way to go. By far the best price, as is often the case, can be found at Costco, where a pack of eight ears costs less than six bucks. You can find packs of four ears at Vons, but they charge five bucks for those four. In any case, try the following:
Husk, if necessary, and completely remove the silk from five to six ears of corn. Put the corn in a glass dish, add a bit of water, cover with plastic wrap and cook the corn in a microwave until just al dente. Do not overcook; you want the kernels crunchy. When the corn has cooled, put the cobs in the fridge for a hour or so. Then, strip the kernels from the cob, using a sharp knife or one of those very cool cob strippers that Oxo makes. When you stand the cob you’re stripping on end on a spread-out clean piece of cloth or dishtowel, the falling kernels won’t bounce all over the place, and, when the cobs have all been stripped, you can just wrap the kernels in the cloth to be easily moved to the salad bowl. Place those kernels in that medium-large salad bowl and add to them the following in any quantity you wish:
Diced sweet peppers, preferably the smaller ones of various colors sold in most supermarkets in plastic bags.
Chopped shallots or purple onion that have been soaked for ca. one hour in cold water and patted dry.
Halved and quartered grape tomatoes preferably of several colors. Try those “heirloom” baby tomatoes from Mexico sold at Trader Joe’s. They’re especially sweet.
1 large avocado, diced.
Toss gently all of the above with a vinaigrette made of EVOO, kosher salt, Champagne vinegar or white wine vinegar which has been whisked together with a generous dollop of finely chopped cilantro. Fresh ground pepper is optional.
Look, the star of this dish is the corn and there are any number of variations to this recipe that one can make as long as the corn continues to be honored. Suppose you wanted a more Tex-Mex flavor. Instead of the peppers, try dicing a large roasted and peeled Anaheim (Poblano) cnile. Don’t know how to roast and peel a pepper? It’s a valuable technique to acquire, but meanwhile you can use canned diced peppers. Try adding some roasted and peeled jalapeños to the mix if you’re into some heat. Then, put a generous pinch or two of powdered cumin in the dressing before whisking it.
It’s all amaizing!