Sweet summer corn always brings memories of childhood vacations in Maine, with huge pots of boiling water over an outdoor brick barbecue grill, awaiting sweet corn and lobster! Oh, the sweet cream butter dribbling down our chins! It was a tradition each summer to spend a week by Lake Sebago with the family of dad’s best army buddy, staying in little cottages in a wooded area by the lake. The weather would be cool enough in the evenings to require blankets on all beds, but during the day, we would be out on the lake fishing and swimming. And then, there was the food! There were wild blueberries in the woods, so we would go blueberry picking and hope that we returned with enough for a pie, or at least some muffins. There would always be one special night when we feasted on a New England boil–succulent lobster, sweet corn on the cob, and redskin potatoes, all drenched in butter. Later, we would be swatting mosquitos, lighting sparklers, and sitting by the fire watching the moon over the glistening lake.
In New England, corn appeared everywhere during summer–in chowders, in salads, but mostly on the cob, perfectly tender. My grandfather grew corn in his garden, and farm stands seemed plentiful in rural Connecticut. Farm stands are not plentiful in urban St. Petersburg, Florida, but, fortunately, there are a few market sources for organic sweet corn. The season is short, and I take advantage of it to pull out my favorite corn recipes. Spicy corn salad is one of those favorites. You can make many variations on this theme. I usually aim for middle of the road spicy, because diners can customize the salad to suit them by adding a few drops of jalapeno or chipotle Tabasco, if they like more heat. Today, alas, I had not a single scallion in the refrigerator! I am not certain how that happened, but I chopped a red onion instead. This is going to be a light and refreshing side dish to go along with our crispy, beer-battered cod this evening, a lighter change from the usual fried “chips.”
Spicy Corn Salad with Lime, Avocado and Smoky Chipotle
Yields 6 servings
Use a non-reactive small bowl.
Juice of 2 large limes
4 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 chopped chipotle pepper and a teaspoon of the adobo sauce that it is packed in (if you like heat, use 3 and a Tablespoon of the adobo sauce)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon pepperoncino (red pepper flakes)
1 Tablespoon honey
Whisk all ingredients together and set aside.
3 cups of cooked sweet corn, off the cob, or you can use frozen, cooked according to directions and cooled
1 – 15 ounce can of black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 large red onion diced, or one bunch of scallions, diced
1/2 large bell pepper, diced (I used red, but you can use your preference)
1 large beefsteak tomato, diced
1 bunch of parsley or cilantro chopped (my husband and I must have that funny gene that causes cilantro to taste like soap to us, so I used parsley!)
1 large avocado or two small, peeled, diced and tossed with lemon juice
Toss all of the vegetables in a large ceramic or glass bowl and taste. I added a few more grinds of freshly ground black pepper and a drizzle of EVOO. Now, peel and cube a large avocado, toss with some lemon juice and add to the salad. If you like more heat and are confident that other diners do, then pull out your favorite hot sauce, or chop a few more of the chipotle peppers to add smoky heat.
So, you have the sweet flavor of corn and lime/honey, a smoky heat from the chipotle pepper, the crunch of the peppers and onions, and the buttery avocado. Please use the avocado that you prefer. I know that many think that the Haas is superior to the Florida avocado, but in this case, I actually prefer a Florida-grown product! This salad is lightly dressed–it is not swimming in dressing. As it sits, the tomato gives off its lovely juices. It is a light salad or side dish that says summer. Add some succulent cooked lobster meat or savory roast chicken, and this is an entrée salad!