There are some flavors that are inextricably linked to seasons. Pumpkin, for example, is a fall staple. Ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and peppermint make me think of winter. Summer is the season of watermelon, and for me, grilled corn.
Grilling corn until it is slightly charred adds phenomenal flavor depth to a vegetable that can be fairly bland without a little help in the taste department. You can also grill a large batch of corn at once if you want to use it in several recipes. It is easiest to slice it off of the cob while it is still warm, but you can store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a couple of days, then re-heat prior to using it. I don’t recommend making the pico de gallo ahead of time. If you want to grill the corn in advance, just store it separately.
Grilled corn is a delicious addition to pico de gallo. The sweet, slightly crunchy kernels add a pop of flavor and a different texture to the classic mix of bold jalapeno and onion and acidic tomato.
I’m not the sort of home cook who has the time to prepare every component of a meal from scratch every evening. I buy some things, like garbanzo beans and black beans, in cans. But you have to draw the line somewhere, and in my kitchen, the line is corn. There’s no comparing corn sliced off the cob and the canned stuff. Canned corn loses all of the sweet flavor and fantastic crunchy-outside-tender-inside texture that makes corn on the cob so tasty. The kernels become uniformly soft and salty (even in the “low sodium” cans). It’s worth the extra slices of the knife to have the fresh stuff.
Summer isn’t just the season for fresh corn. It’s also prime time to take pictures of Mops in the water. It’s amazing to me that this strange little dog loves swimming. It’s even more amazing to me how miserable she looks while in the process. Here’s Mops at Steel Creek on the Buffalo River, just living her little dog life to the fullest:
No one asked us why we brought our pet sloth to the river, but I could sense the question in the air. Or at least it should have been.
Enough laughing at Mops
for now. Back to the recipe.
We enjoyed the grilled corn pico de gallo on top of grilled salmon at a recent “team dinner” evening with some friends. I developed the menu, planned the recipes, and printed out copies of both for every lady in attendance. We divided up cooking duties, put on our best aprons, and had a fantastic dinner on the table with more wine than stress involved in the process.
Our menu for the evening started with fresh salsa (brought by a savvy gardener pal), guacamole, and a kale, toasted pecan, chevre, mango, and avocado salad with my jalapeno cilantro ranch. For our main course, we had grilled salmon with a lime butter sauce topped with grilled corn pico de gallo. Our side dishes were mashed sweet potatoes with feta, grilled squash, and grilled balsamic green bean bundles.
This recipe can be made almost entirely from vegetables that are currently in season. If you’re like my mother, you can probably harvest everything without leaving the house. If you’ve somehow managed to kill every plant you’ve ever touched, you may prefer to head to your nearest farmer’s market. By the way, my plant kill list so far includes both succulents and mint. Although both seemed to try very ardently to survive, my black thumb overpowered them in the end. Rest in peace, my little green friends.
I think I may add sliced peaches to this recipe next time. Or maybe avocado? Any other ideas?
Grilled Corn Pico de Gallo
Yields 6 to 8 servings
You will need:
- 1 large purple onion
- 2-3 cups chopped cherry tomatoes
- 3 ears of corn
- 1 fresh jalapeno
- 1 bunch fresh cilantro
- 1 teaspoon garlic salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon Cajun spice blend
- Set grill to medium heat.
- Pour olive oil onto a large plate or platter. Roll corn in olive oil and add cumin and Cajun spice blend.
- Grill corn for five to seven minutes, until slightly charred in some places. Remove from heat and let cool.
- Finely chop the onion, jalapeno, cilantro, and cherry tomatoes. Transfer to a large bowl. Add garlic salt and black pepper.
- When corn is cool enough to handle, slice kernels from the cob. Toss the corn in with the other ingredients to combine.
- Serve at room temperature. This dish is best when prepared immediately before serving. However, you can store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a day prior to serving.