Summer Corn Salad with Tahini and Lime
Plus a ton of herbs
This week I’m writing to you with nine fingers — I didn’t lose one, thankfully, but I did give myself a nice gash on Sunday while chopping up some herbs. It’s somehow the first time I’ve cut myself while cooking, and although I can now viscerally attest to the sharpness of my prized Wusthof knife, I didn’t need stitches and it’s safely bandaged up. I’m typing and cooking a little slower than usual, but I very quickly forgave and reunited with my Wusthof.
So naturally, today’s recipe requires a copious amount of chopped herbs. Take my left index finger as a cautionary tale, but never shy away from slicing and dicing a bunch of greens. In this case, it’s for a bright, nutty corn salad that you’ll want to make all summer long, adapted from a recent Andy Baraghani recipe that caught my eye.
I can never decide between raw or roasted corn when making a salad; they each offer such beautiful, unique flavors. The answer to this conundrum, of course, is to include both. The raw corn bursts with pure, sweet sunshine, while the kernels that get roasted (or really pan-fried) sport a deeply caramelized char that begins to smell a bit like popcorn. The combination creates a lot of dimension in this simple salad, and it’s rounded out by crucial supporting players: diced jalapeños, chopped scallions, a ton of herbs — cilantro, mint, Thai and Italian basils, fresh oregano — and a nutty vinaigrette made with tahini, lime, and mustard. Perhaps best of all, this recipe is totally vegan, and you don’t need a backyard grill for it, either.
Corn Salad with Tahini Lime Vinaigrette
4 fresh ears of sweet corn, shucked and cleaned of all remaining husk strings
1 small bunch of each, chopped and/or torn:
Chives, finely chopped
3 scallions, sliced thin
1 jalapeño pepper
Handful of sungold tomatoes, sliced in half (optional)
1 tablespoon tahini
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove
1 tablespoon of sherry or red wine vinegar
Extra virgin olive oil
Cracked black pepper
Slice the kernels off the corn by taking a knife lengthwise down each side of the ear, depositing the kernels in a large bowl.
Place a carbon steel or cast iron pan over high heat. Add a generous amount of grapeseed oil.
When smoking hot, add about half of the corn (try not to crowd the pan too much). Let the corn cook, untouched, for 3-4 minutes; be careful as some kernels may pop.
Once the corn has started to caramelize, stir and cook for another couple of minutes. Take care to ensure that the corn is frying and not simply sautéing (it should have dark brown spots and not appear too soggy). Remove the corn and place on a large paper towel-lined plate. Toss with salt, set aside and let cool.
Make the dressing: in a food processor, combine the tahini, mustard, garlic, juice of 2 limes, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Blend and slowly stream in olive oil until emulsified. Add water if it’s too thick.
Check a small piece of the jalapeño for heat; after determining the heat level, slice off the outer flesh (no seeds) and finely dice. Reserve as much as you would like for the salad.
In a large bowl, combine the jalapeño, scallions, raw corn, and roasted corn. Add the dressing to taste, about 2 tablespoons.
Add the chopped herbs (reserving a handful for garnish), some additional olive oil and salt, and the zest and juice of the remaining lime. Stir to combine.
Top with remaining herbs and sungold tomatoes.