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My recipe for grilled corn salad is a dynamically delicious blend of charred corn, toasted hazelnuts, and a sensational citrus dressing. It only requires a handful of simple ingredients and can be ready to enjoy in just 20 minutes.
I’m dropping a flavor bomb on you today with this corn salad recipe. Corn is in season from May to September in the United States, making it an incredibly bountiful crop. Whether you are harvesting your own bounty or simply cooking with the seasons, you might be wondering how to jazz up your corn game. I’ve got you!
Grilled corn salad is a fun, fresh way to enjoy your corn. It offers a unique combination of textures and flavors that scream with the spirit of summer. It’s perfect for barbecues, potlucks, or any day of the week.
Table of Contents
- Hazelnuts – Add a rich, earthy, slightly sweet flavor and a satisfying crunch, especially once toasted. Pecans or walnuts are great substitutes.
- Corn – Grilling enhances the naturally sweet, buttery flavor of corn while adding a smoky element. I prefer sweet white corn but any sweet corn on the cob will work.
- Garlic – Infuses the dressing with a pungent, zingy flavor.
- Orange Juice – Makes the whole dish pop with a bright citrus flavor. For an even bolder citrus burst, you can use ¼ cup of orange juice concentrate instead.
- Vinegar – I like rice vinegar for its mild, sweet flavor. Acceptable substitutes include apple cider, champagne, or white wine vinegar.
- Lemon Zest – Brightens the corn salad with an intense dash of lively lemon flavor.
- Mint – Brings cooling, sweet notes that play beautifully with the citrus.
- Tarragon – This delicately spicy herb adds just a whisper of licorice flavor. If needed, use finely chopped basil in its place.
- Red Pepper – Regular flakes are fine or you can sub in Aleppo peppers. I like to grind it finely in a spice grinder and sprinkle it on afterward.
- Pecorino Romano Cheese – This hard Italian cheese is tangy, salty, and sharp. You can also opt for parmesan, feta, or any cheese of your choice.
Don’t Skip the Toasting Step!
Toasting the hazelnuts works wonders to bring out their rich, nutty flavor. Use a sauté pan, and rub the skins off the best that you can. The toasted nuts add so much to this dish, so try not to skip it.
- Toast the Hazelnuts. Place a small saute pan over medium heat. Toast the hazelnuts for about 8 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally to make sure they don’t burn. Allow the nuts to cool, then transfer to a paper towel. Gently roll to remove any skins.
- Char the Corn. Brush the corn with a tablespoon of oil and cook for about 12 minutes on the grill, rotating to char all sides. Set aside to cool. Alternatively, you can remove the kernels and cook them for about 4 minutes in a skillet over medium heat.
- Make the Vinaigrette. Combine the garlic, orange juice, vinegar, lemon zest, and one tablespoon of oil in a small bowl. Whisk to combine, season with salt, and set aside.
- Combine & Toss. Remove the kernels from the ears of corn and toss together with the vinaigrette. Add in the hazelnuts, mint, tarragon, and pepper. Toss again to combine and top with grated Pecorino Romano cheese.
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For this corn salad recipe, we put an ear of corn, with the husk removed, directly on the grill. This is the most surefire way to get the smoky, charred results we are aiming for. There is no steaming, boiling, or soaking required.
In general, the choice to steam, boil, or soak your shucked corn before putting it on the grill is up to you. It can make your grilled corn come out a bit plumper and juicier while cutting back on the required grilling time.
However, if you are planning on grilling your corn still in the husk, go ahead and give it a nice soak prior to grilling. This will help keep it steam quickly and efficiently while reducing the risk it might burn. After soaking, you can toss the whole ear directly on the grill.
Flavors will vary based on the other ingredients used, but there will always be some level of sweetness from the star of the dish. This particular corn salad recipe features the smoky-sweet flavor of charred corn and the nutty crunch of toasted hazelnuts tossed in a voraciously vibrant citrus-herb vinaigrette. It’s a fresh, earthy salad that is sweet, nutty, tangy, and bright.
Grilled corn salad with hazelnuts makes an excellent vegetarian snack, side dish, or entree. This fresh, smoky salad is perfect for all your summertime barbecues and potlucks. Here are just a few of my favorite dishes to serve alongside it:
– BBQ Baby Back Ribs, Jerk Pork Jamaican Ribs, or Beef Short Ribs
– Citrus Honey Grilled Chicken or Harissa Grilled Chicken
– Honey Mustard Wild Sockeye Salmon, Grilled Sea Bass, or Grilled Ahi Tuna Steak
– Smashed Red Potatoes or Pesto Potato Salad
– Creamy Brussel Sprouts Gratin or Roasted Fall Vegetables
– Spicy Cilantro Lime Slaw
Grilled Corn Salad with Hazelnuts
- 1 cup hazelnuts toasted
- 4 ears of corn husked
- 1 garlic clove smashed and chopped
- 1/4 cup fresh orange juice (See Note 1)
- 2 tbsp rice vinegar
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- pinch salt
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil separated
- 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint
- 1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh tarragon
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes (See Note 2)
- 2 oz Pecorino Romano grated
- Toast hazelnuts in a small saute pan over medium heat. Shaking pan occasionally so they don’t burn, 8 minutes. Let cool. Roll in a paper towel to remove any skins.
- Brush corn with 1 tablespoon of oil and grill, turning to char on all sides, about 12 minutes total time. Allow to cool. (see Note 3)
- In a small bowl whisk together the garlic, orange juice, vinegar, one tablespoon oil and lemon zest to combine. Season with salt and set aside.
- Cut the kernels from each cob and add to vinaigrette. Add hazelnuts, mint, tarragon, and pepper and toss to combine. Grate fresh Pecorino Romano cheese on top, serve.
- I have even used 1/4 cup orange concentrate for an even more intense orange flavor. Love it.
- Aleppo pepper can be substituted here. I ground them into a powder in my spice grinder (or coffee grinder, mortar and pestle) and sprinkle on after. This is optional.
- Alternatively, you could cut kernels from cobs and cook in a dry, large skillet over medium heat. Shake pan occasionally, until charred in spots, about 4 minutes.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.