Corn is serious business in Brazil. As one of the world’s largest producers of this crop, Brazilians have exceptionally high standards when it comes to corn. Street vendors are even known to slice little squares into the husks of their offerings to allow customers to inspect the quality and color of the kernels before they buy. There are plenty of ways in which Brazilians eat their corn, from simply boiled and salted to sweet and savory confections, like corn pudding and pamonhas. Today, we are putting a Brazilian spin on a cookout food staple: grilled corn salad with tomatoes, avocado, peppers, and plenty of cheese.
Best Corn for Grilled Corn Salad
The preferred corn for grilling is sweet corn. American grocery stores don’t give you a little window to examine your corn, but most will allow you to peel back the husk a bit or even discard it entirely right in the store. Look for bright green husks with cream colored silks. Kernels should be firm but plump, without obvious pits, wrinkles, or discoloration. Pale to golden yellow is acceptable for the color of corn for your grilled corn salad.
In the US, Minnesota and Washington account for over half the country’s sweet corn production. However, most of this corn is used for processing (i.e. canning and freezing). Most of the sweet corn for sale in super markets comes from a few states, including Washington, Florida, Georgia, and California. That being said, all 50 states can and do grow sweet corn. Keep your eye out for any local varieties that catch your eye. (Some of the best corn we’ve ever tasted comes from Olathe, Colorado.)
Grilled Corn in Foil vs Husk vs Plain
There are various schools of thought when it comes to best grilling strategies for corn. When it comes to flavor, many feel strongly that grilling in the husk is the best way to go. The husk imparts an earthy, nutty flavor to the corn while allowing smoke from the grill to penetrate. The result is smoky, sweet, and juicy.
You can grill corn in foil if you prefer a less smoky or charred flavor. It will still be delicious and retain plenty of moisture. Grilling corn without any covering is a little trickier. It imparts the most smoke flavor, but it is much easier to burn. When we grill corn without the husk or foil, we like to parboil it, dry it with paper towels, then season with olive oil and salt. All that’s left to do is a quick sear on each side over medium high on your grill for perfect charring and superb flavor. This is the method we will be using for our grilled corn salad.
Seasoning for Grilled Corn Salad
You can season the corn for your grilled corn salad however you like. We find that just a little salt and pepper is all you need for a quality ear of corn. We will be adding more seasonings to dress our corn salad, so there really is no need to be too zealous when grilling the corn. That being said, feel free to jazz it up to suit your personal tastes. Garlic powder, paprika, red pepper, a dash of dill-you do you!
Grilled Corn Salad Recipe
For the dressing:
1 clove of garlic, minced
Juice of three large limes
½ tsp lime zest (optional)
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp salt (more to taste)
For the Salad:
Four large ears of sweet corn, dehusked
3 roma tomatoes, diced
1 large avocado, chopped
1 fresh jalapeno, sliced into thin rounds (remove ribs and seeds to make it less spicy)
½ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
½ cup crumbled feta cheese (can substitute cotija, if desired)
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add your four ears of corn and parboil them for 3-4 minutes.
- While your corn boils, preheat your grill to medium high heat. Oil the grates with vegetable oil.
- Remove the corn from the boiling water and let it dry on a platter or pat it dry with paper towels.
- Coat each corn cob with olive oil and season all over with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Place your corn cobs on the grill and cook each side for a couple minutes until you have a nice char.
- Let the corn cool enough for you to handle it. Remove the kernels from the cobs by holding them upright and running a sharp knife down each side.
- Transfer the kernels into a large bowl along with your chopped cilantro, avocado, jalapeno, and diced roma tomatoes. Also add in your feta or cotija cheese.
- Make the dressing: mix the minced garlic with the lime juice, olive oil, lime zest, salt, and black pepper to taste.
- Drizzle the dressing all over your grilled corn salad mixture and toss to evenly coat the ingredients.
- Serve warm or chilled.