Summer HEAT: grilled sweet corn & pepper salad

photo: colin price

hello, loyal blog readers and patient home ec students!  here's the first of the recipes i promised, from the summer round of home ec: understanding heat.  i've been eating one version or another of this corn salad almost every night.  SO DELICIOUS!

this salad is perfect with grilled steak, chicken, braised pork, rice/beans/tortillas, scrambled eggs, or really anything.  eat it all summer long!

Grilled Sweet Corn and Pepper Salad
  • 3 ears sweet corn, shucked
  • A couple of huge handfuls of sweet peppers, such as Jimmy Nardello's Frying Peppers, gypsy peppers, or even Pimientos de Padron, which aren't always sweet, but are quite excellent
  • one spring onion (either red or white), or red onion
  • a few cloves of garlic
  • a couple of spicy little peppers, like serrano or jalapeno
  • lots of limes--at least 4
  • a couple of big handfuls of tomatoes...i've been using dry-farmed early girls, but heirlooms or cherry tomatoes would be fine, too.  just make sure they are sweet and tasty!
  • 2 big or 4 small cucumbers
  • 2 avocados
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • salt
  • good olive oil
  • red wine vinegar, if you have it
First, peel, slice and macerate the onion in red wine vinegar.

Now, grill the vegetables that need to be grilled.  If you have a grill at home, get the coals going, and plan to cook over fairly hot coals.  If it's a gas grill, then preheat the grill and cook over fairly high heat. If you don't have a grill, then do what I do, and get out ye olde cast iron pan, heat it super hot, and blacken the corn and peppers in there in batches, letting them get nice and brown.  If you don't have a cast iron pan, crank your oven to a million degrees, throw a cookie sheet in there and let it get really hot, then toss in a single layer of peppers or corn at a time, after they have been tossed with olive oil and salt.  If you don't have an oven and a cookie sheet, well, then, I'm not sure you're reading the right blog.

Ok, back to the grill.  Basically, just toss the corn in a bowl with olive oil and salt, until it's lightly but evenly coated with oil.  Then, do the same with the peppers.  Grill the corn and peppers separately in batches, making sure not to crowd the grill or create a pile-up, allowing the skin to blister and blacken, and the flesh of the peppers and corn to cook through.  Over a sufficiently hot grill (or cast iron pan), this should take just a few minutes for each batch of peppers, and about 8-10 minutes for the corn.  But, I'm not there at your house, so it might take longer or shorter.  Ok?  Just use your judgement.

Peel and cut the cucumbers into chunks.  I like big one-inch chunks.

Core and wedge the tomatoes.  I like pretty big chunks here, too.  Muy rustico.

Chop the cilantro, including the stems.  Just get rid of any woody parts first.

Pound the garlic with a little salt into a fine paste.

Thinly slice the spicy peppers.

Strip the kernels of corn off the cobs.  Discard the cobs.

Get out your biggest bowl, and throw in the grilled peppers, corn, tomato and cucumber wedges, macerated onions (but not the vinegar), cilantro, the right amount of spicy peppers for your taste, a bit of the pounded garlic, some salt, some good olive oil, and the juice of 2 limes.  

Toss it all together-- use your hands!--and adjust salt, acid and oil as needed.  It might need more vinegar.  It might need more lime juice.  It will definitely need more salt.  Might also need some more garlic and spicy pepper, too.

Once you're almost there, tastewise, halve the avocados and scoop them in in big, rustic spoonfuls.  Adjust the salt and acid again, taste, adjust, taste, adjust, and serve!

If there is any left, it's delicious the next day, too!


  1. Just made this for a big party this afternoon - yum. Thanks so much for posting the recipe!

  2. dude. yes. you just inspired me for my doha dinner party tomorrow night. no grill, no cast iron pan, no cookie sheet (hey, i just moved here) but i should be able to buy one of the last two tomorrow. Now...what to cook with the salad.....hmmmmm? you're the bomb. xo

  3. That looks absolutely yummy! I'm gonna try this out this weekend! Great site!