With just a few short weeks of summer to go, I wanted to squeeze in this simple, but absolutely delicious Grilled Summer Salad. The ingredients may be familiar, but this light, refreshing side dish is anything but ordinary.
The grilled part of the salad is an ear of fresh corn on the cob and a Vidalia onion. Sweet corn is everywhere this time of year and the same goes for the candy-sweet onions. Adding a little char to them, really sets off their flavors in this salad.
And I’ll have you know, that I’m the one who did the grilling here (not Scott, my grill master). He was not too happy when he found out I’d been “messing” with his Weber but my “inexperience” didn’t cause any lasting damage. LOL!
Zucchini is cheap and plentiful, so it’s a natural in this dish. Though I normally enjoy it stir fried, saut?ed, kebabbed or otherwise cooked, for this salad I used a mandoline to shave raw zucchini into paper-thin pappardelle-like ribbons. If you don’t have a mandoline, a vegetable peeler would give you thin shavings as well.
Fresh Campari tomatoes (or any juicy, ripe tomato you have) are another must use ingredient! I mean, it’s summer, right? All too soon, we’ll be relegated to those sad, mealy orange-hued wannabes. 🙁 To make the flavors really bright, I used a simple citrus vinaigrette. Incidentally, homemade dressings are so easy to make and cost pennies compared to bottled ones. If you’re not making your own salad dressings yet, what are you waiting for?
Queso fresco (Mexican crumbling cheese) is my pick to add a salty bite. It’s a semi-firm cheese that holds up well in this salad without being too creamy. If you don’t have it, you could also substitute crumbled feta or skip the cheese for a vegan salad. Sprinkle with fresh cilantro leaves for an herbaceous note. You can serve the salad immediately, or make it a few hours ahead of time — just hold off on the dressing until the last minute — otherwise the veg will lose its snap!
We had this last Friday with some grilled chicken, a chilled pinot gris, and a crust of french bread – and there were no leftovers! Enjoy!
- 1 ear corn, shucked
- 1 large sweet onion (such as Vidalia or Walla Walla)
- 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1-2 medium zucchini
- 4-5 Campari tomatoes -- or other very ripe tomatoes (about 1 1/2 cups, sliced into wedges)
- 3/4 cup queso fresco, crumbled (or feta)
- 1/2 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 2 teaspoons lime zest
- 1 tablespoon lime juice (from about half a lime)
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- In a small bowl combine all the ingredients and whisk until emulsified. Set aside.
- Preheat the grill to a medium high heat (about 450-500°).
- Slice the onion into 1/4" rounds and place on a baking sheet. Shuck the corn and place it on the sheet. Brush the onions and corn with olive oil, just so it's lightly coated. Place the corn and onion slices on the grill and cook, turning every so often to avoid burning until the corn and onions are tender and have taken on a little char, (about 10 minutes). Transfer the vegetables to the sheet pan and set aside.
- Use a vegetable peeler or a mandoline -- set on very thin slices to slice the zucchini into thin ribbons and transfer to a large bowl
- Cut the tomatoes into bite sized wedges and add to the zucchini. Separate the onions into rings and add them to the salad. Cut the corn off the cob and transfer to the salad. Crumble the queso fresco or feta and toss into the salad. Just before serving, toss the salad with the dressing and sprinkle with the fresh cilantro.