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Cooking

Golden touch

Sweet and bountiful this time of year, corn gets even better when it’s grilled.

By Adam Ried
August 16, 2009

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Fresh corn is pretty irresistible when it’s simply boiled, but to my mind, grilling makes it even better. The kernels take on a subtle toasted flavor that adds dimension to their natural sweetness. I usually throw a few extra ears on the fire with an eye toward using them in a salad, salsa, or gazpacho, such as the one here with yellow tomatoes and peppers. This chilled soup has all the freshness and sparkle of any good gazpacho, but it’s both sweeter and heartier with the grilled corn.

Grilled Corn

Serves 6

6 medium ears corn

Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill or preheat a gas grill on high. Meanwhile, remove all but the innermost layers of husks from the corn (the kernels should be covered by, but visible through, that innermost layer) and cut off the silk at the tip of each ear. If using a gas grill, adjust burners to medium-high. Grill the corn, turning the ears 90 degrees every 2 minutes, until the husks are charred, the outline of the kernels is visible through the charred husks, and a few kernels have darkened, 12 to 16 minutes. Remove from heat and, when cool enough to handle, remove and discard the charred husks and silk.

Yellow Gazpacho

Makes about 2½ quarts

Pieces of grilled shrimp make an excellent addition to this mellow gazpacho.

5 ripe medium yellow tomatoes (about 2½ pounds), cored and seeded, 1 diced and 4 cut into quarters

1 small yellow bell pepper, diced (about ¾ cup)

1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced (about 1 cup)

½ cup finely chopped sweet onion (such as Vidalia,

Maui, or Walla Walla) or shallot

1 large garlic clove, minced

1/3 cup sherry vinegar

Salt and ground black pepper

1 recipe Grilled Corn, kernels cut off the cob, about ½ cup reserved for garnish

3 cups cold water

1 teaspoon hot pepper

sauce

½ cup chopped fresh cilantro or basil

In a large nonreactive bowl, mix the diced tomatoes, bell pepper, cucumber, onion or shallot, garlic, vinegar, 1 tablespoon salt, and ground black pepper to taste, and set aside until the vegetables release some juices, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, in a blender puree the quartered tomatoes, 1 cup of the corn kernels, and cold water to a uniform liquid; place a strainer over the bowl with the seasoned vegetables and strain the puree into it, extracting as much liquid as possible. Add the remaining corn kernels (not those set aside for garnish) and hot sauce to the mixture in the bowl, and stir to mix. Cover tightly and refrigerate to blend flavors, at least 4 hours and up to 2 days.

Add the cilantro or basil and stir to mix. Taste the gazpacho and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper if necessary. Serve cold in chilled bowls, sprinkling each portion with some of the reserved grilled corn kernels.

Grilled Corn and Mushroom Salad with Queso Fresco

Makes about 9 cups

On its own, this vinaigrette (and the next salad’s) will taste too acidic, but in the salad it balances nicely with the rich ingredients.

1½ tablespoons white wine vinegar

1½ tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano

Salt and pepper

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 pound mushrooms, threaded onto skewers

2 medium onions, cut into ¾-inch-thick slices and threaded onto skewers

1 recipe Grilled Corn, kernels cut off the cob

1 cup (about 4 ounces) crumbled queso fresco cheese

4 scallions, thinly sliced

½ cup chopped fresh

cilantro

In a large nonreactive bowl, vigorously whisk vinegar, lime juice, garlic, oregano, 1 teaspoon salt, pepper to taste, and 6 tablespoons of the olive oil until well blended, and set aside.

Prepare a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill or preheat a gas grill on high. Brush the skewered mushrooms and onions with the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil, and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. If using a gas grill, adjust burners to medium-high. Grill the onions and mushrooms until tender and browned, 12 to 14 minutes, turning the mushrooms as necessary to brown evenly, and turning the onions once halfway through cooking time.

Slide the onions off the skewers and chop them roughly, and quarter the grilled mushrooms. Whisk the vinaigrette to blend, then add the corn, onions, mushrooms, cheese, and most of the scallions and cilantro and toss to mix well. Taste the salad and adjust seasoning with salt, pepper, or lime juice if necessary, sprinkle with the remaining scallions and cilantro, and serve.

Grilled Corn Salad

with Avocado and Tomato

Makes about 7 cups

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 garlic clove, minced

½ teaspoon minced fresh thyme

Salt and pepper

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 recipe Grilled Corn, kernels cut off the cob

1 large stalk celery, finely chopped

¼ cup finely chopped red onion

1 cup grape or small cherry tomatoes, halved lengthwise

1 ripe but firm medium avocado, cut into ½-inch chunks

¼ cup chopped fresh basil

1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley

In a large nonreactive bowl, vigorously whisk the vinegar, garlic, thyme, ½ teaspoon salt, pepper to taste, and oil until well blended. Add the corn, celery, onion, tomatoes, and avocado and toss to mix well. Taste the salad and adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper, or vinegar, if necessary. Add the basil and parsley, toss to mix well, and serve at once.

Send comments or suggestions to Adam Ried at cooking@globe.com.

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