Victor-ious Corn Salad

Although school is back with a vengeance (Does that sound angry? Not intentional. Let’s just say, “We’re tiiiiired!”) for most, this weekend marks the unofficial/official end-of-summer.  Possibly the last weekend until July 4 without a jam-packed sports rotation (yes, that’s how we roll on the East Coast), the last few lazy days by the pool, and more than likely the last big backyard barbecue that you’ll be hosting.  Of course, the grill will still be in rotation well through September and the weather will only be getting nicer for outdoor entertaining but we’re talking “official” here.  So I say, bring out the corn salad!

Every August, my kids and I are lucky enough to escape the hustle, bustle, heat and humidity of Washington, D.C. to set-up camp at my parents’ house in Bozeman, Montana. We hike mountains, float down rivers and watch for shooting stars.  We’re regular shoppers at the Tuesday night and Saturday morning farmers markets, reluctant dancers during Thursday evenings’ “Music on Main” and enthusiastic road-trippers, most often heading towards my brother and sister-in-law’s house in Victor, Idaho.

Victor is an idyllic little town outside of Jackson, Wyoming, at the base of the Teton mountain range. It’s a place where people come to enjoy the outdoors, kick-back and relax.  This summer we made the trip into a Sibling Reunion of sorts and we timed our visit to coincide with the Targhee Bluegrass Festival.

Being one of a family of cooks, it’s no surprise that our first outing on Friday morning was to the weekly Farmers Market in the adjacent town of Driggs. Upon arrival we scattered to take stock of the produce, meats and various homemade goodies on display. At a magical moment we reconvened and then dispersed once again to gather the components of the night’s dinner. My sister had happy hour covered once she selected an assortment of artisanal cheeses and a crusty loaf of ciabatta. My brother and sister-in-law had brought some fabulous zucchini from their home garden so they picked up some additional ingredients to make a shaved squash dish. I had my heart set on a corn salad after spotting some incredible looking ears, so with that as my base I wandered the market looking to round-out the dish.

After selecting a dozen ears of healthy looking corn,* I was drawn to these long Japanese scallions and some small purplish turnips piqued my interest.  To be honest, I had never eaten raw turnips but for some reason I was certain that’s how I’d use them in my salad. With that unfounded confidence and the knowledge that my brother’s house was equipped with a well-stocked pantry, I was good to go.

The resulting salad has a delightfully fresh, smoky taste.  The scallions add a slight bite and the shaved turnips contribute a mildly, bitter note.  I think that the corn would only be improved by a little char from the grill (after a par-boil and before cutting the kernels from the cobs), but I didn’t take that extra step either of the two times that I’ve now made this dish, so I didn’t write it into the recipe. If you are inclined to go to the grill, I guarantee you will achieve perfection.  And finally, yet again, I only thought take a photo of the dish once we all had enjoyed seconds and thirds (my indication that this recipe was a keeper) so the image is a close-up of our leftovers–not the best shot.

Enjoy this last wave of summer with the corn that marks the beginning of the end…and get some sleep because life seems to rev up in September!

*I’m not sure where I learned this tip for selecting the best ears of corn but I have to say it works for me every time and I think it’s a lot more considerate to subsequent shoppers than peeling back the husks to examine the kernels. I pick up an ear, look for the husk to be green (not dry) and feel that the ear is heavy for its size. If it meets those criteria almost without exception, the corn will be sweet, delicious, and most importantly not rotten.

Smoky Corn Salad

Smoky Corn Salad

Smoky Corn Salad
Serves 6
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Ingredients
  1. 8 ears fresh corn (shucked, boiled for four minutes and cut from cobs)
  2. 3 shaved raw turnips (use vegetable peeler--be careful with your fingertips!)
  3. 2 large scallions, finely sliced
  4. 2 strips cooked thick-cut bacon, crumbled
  5. salt and pepper, to taste
  6. 1 lime, juiced
  7. 1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
  8. 1-2 tsp honey
  9. 1 tsp kosher salt
  10. 1/2 cup olive oil
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, combine the corn, turnips, scallions, bacon and season with salt and pepper.  In a separate bowl, mix the lime juice, vinegar, honey, salt and slowly add the olive oil, whisking to emulsify.  Taste vinaigrette and adjust seasoning to taste.  Pour dressing over the salad, mix to incorporate and refrigerate until ready to serve.  Ideally, prepare a couple of hours ahead of time to allow the flavors to merge.
Notes
  1. A finely diced jalapeno would be an excellent addition to this salad if you'd like to add a little heat.
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