Busy. Frantic. Schizophrenic. Over-booked. These are the modifiers that pop into my head while looking at my May/June calendar. Teacher appreciation lunches, SAT and AP tests, Mother’s Day, @dormantchef’s birthday, Memorial Day Weekend, my birthday, my daughter’s graduation, BlogherFood (I’m speaking!) and the list could go on.
But I know I’m not alone in this frenzy. So what do you prepare in the midst of this commotion when asked to bring salad for 20 people to the teacher appreciation lunch or you’re hosting your mother’s celebration or the annual Memorial Day barbecue? Make Melissa Clark’s Corn Salad.
From her warmly and expertly written cookbook Cook This Now, which is organized by month and season, this recipe is in the summer section, calling for fresh corn on the cob. But that didn’t stop me. First off, the thermometer reads summer in California right now though my local grocer and farmer’s market didn’t read the temp charts – no fresh corn. That didn’t stop me. Off to the frozen aisle I went. High quality frozen fish is often better than the “fresh” fish you find at the fish counter so I was hoping that high quality frozen organic corn might follow suit. It worked.
Could this salad be even better with fresh corn? Absolutely. But can you offset the lack of fresh corn with other bright summery ingredients? Absolutely.
And here’s the best part – the dish can sit out or in the fridge for hours with no spoilage and only a continual improvement in flavor.
So if the only time you can prepare that dish for 20 for the teacher appreciation lunch or your Mother’s Day barbecue is at 6AM before the frenzy begins, make this salad. If you are looking for a versatile colorful side dish that screams summer and marries with an array of main dishes from chipotle steak tacos to barbecue to a vegetarian buffet, make this salad.
Corn Salad with Tomatoes, Avocado, Edamame, and Cilantro Lime Dressing
Adapted closely to Melissa Clark’s recipe in Cook This Now
Prep: 20 – 30 minutes max.
Serves: about 12 – 20 depending on content of meal or vastness of buffet
- (3) 16 oz packages of sweet frozen corn, preferably organic, white or yellow or a mix **
- (1) 10 – 16oz package of frozen edamame beans (shelled)
- 1/3 cup of fresh squeezed lime juice (about 2 or 3 limes)
- 2 – 4 garlic cloves minced (depends how garlicky you like it)
- ½ cup of extra virgin olive oil
- 1 1/2 tsp pepper, or to taste
- 1 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
- 4 – 6 avocados, diced
- 1 ½ pints of cherry tomatoes, cut in half
- 4 – 6 scallions/green onions finely chopped
- ½ cup of chopped cilantro
- 1 fresh jalapeno finely minced (Melissa suggests this as an addition – I used it the first time and it was just the right bite of spicy but depends on your taste)
- Hearts of Palm – if you’ve never tried these slightly bizarre stalks that you can find in cans or jars, give them a try. My daughter likes them plain but I’ve made avocado, tomato and hearts of palm salad with a lemony dressing and it’s a crowd pleaser. I think they would make a nice addition in this salad as well. Just slice the stalk into bite size pieces.
1. If using frozen corn and edamame, put it all in a bowl large enough to hold the finished salad but small enough to fit in the microwave, if possible. Don’t need to cook the corn, just take the chill off of it. Or, just let it sit out and defrost or leave it in the fridge to defrost.
2. Make the dressing by squeezing the lime juice into a bowl, add the chopped garlic, salt and pepper, then whisk in the olive oil. Set this aside and let the flavors blend.
3. Now prep the rest of your vegetables – cut your cherry tomatoes in half, slice the green onions finely, chop your cilantro, cut the avocado into largish bite size pieces so it doesn’t mush in the salad and if using jalapeno or hearts of palm, dice and slice as well.
4. Add the tomatoes, green onions, and cilantro (jalapeno and hearts of palm if using) to the corn and edamame mixture and combine gently, then add the avocado and dressing and combine well but gingerly so as not to mush the avocado. Now just cover and either place in the fridge or even leave it on the counter for a few hours if fridge space is spare.
** If you have fresh corn, 3 ears serves about 4 – 6 according to Melissa, so if preparing for a crowd, triple that. She suggests either boiling or microwaving the stalks. Another method that will just make this salad sing with flavor, is to put some olive oil, salt, and pepper on the corn and either grill it or even broil it until it is starting to brown vigorously all over. Then cut the kernels off the ears after they cool a bit. The flavors of roasted/grilled corn are so intense that it takes the salad to another whole level of greatness. Try it, you’ll like it!
Happy Mother’s Day and may your spring gently and calmly turn into summer.