Us Midwestern girls know a thing or two about corn. We’d wait until the height of corn season (late July – August), then my mom, sister and I would drive out through the country roads to the farm stands and pick out produce for dinner. Sis and I were in charge of finding the best ears of sweet corn. We’d peel back the husk a bit to expose a few of the uppermost kernels and poke a thumbnail into one. If it shot corn juice into our eye, we knew it was good. Mom always cooked it that might for dinner, because it’s best right after it’s been picked. As soon as sweet corn is harvested, it’s made up of 80% sugar and 20% starch. Within 24 hours it becomes it’s opposite, 80% starch and 20% sugar. The cobs would get slathered in butter, salted and gobbled up. Those were the evenings when a few corn cobs, tomatoes, peaches and a baked potato were dinner.
Sorry to say, even the best Jersey corn can’t really live up to that. So, we have to gussy it up a bit. Enter – the corn salad. The corn gets shucked and kernels are cut off, mixed with chopped pepper and sauteed a bit. Add avocado, fresh herbs and a chipotle-lime dressing, and you’ve got dinner. I marinated some tofu in the dressing for a few hours, then grilled it, to make this into a full meal. I threw in some feta cheese for good measure, but that’s optional.
Preparing corn-on-the-cob for the first time can be a little intimidating, but we’re not going for perfection here. Just peel back the husk and silk, then break off the bottom. Don’t worry about the few silks that are hanging on. Standing the cob upright in a bowl, hold your knife perpendicular and slice down the whole thing. You want to try and stay somewhat close to the cob, but don’t sweat it.
Corn Salad with Grilled Tofu
8 oz. firm tofu (I like Wildwood Sprouted tofu)
3 T. lime juice (from 1 juicy lime)
3 T. olive oil
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. chipotle powder (or more to taste if you like it spicy)
1 T olive oil
3 ears of corn with kernels stripped (see above for a how-to)
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1 avocado, sliced
a big handful of basil leaves (cilantro would be good, too) cut into pieces
2 oz. feta cheese (optional), toasted pumpkin seeds would be good, too
the rest of the tofu marinade
Slice the tofu into 4 thin slabs. Wrap them in a towel and press to dry a bit. Mix the rest of the tofu ingredients in a ziploc bag. Add the tofu to the bag in a single layer, make sure it gets coated in the marinade, then let it sit for a few hours (I did 2, it was very flavorful) If you don’t have much time to marinade, just do what you can and brush more on when you grill.
Heat the rest of the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the peppers and corn and cook for 3-4 minutes, until the rawness is cooked out, but corn still pops in your mouth. Set aside.
Grill the tofu. On my grill pan it took 15 minutes on medium high, turning them halfway to get some nice marks. It may take a little more time on a real grill with a moderate heat.
Pour the rest of the marinade out of the bag and onto the corn and peppers. Mix with feta and half of the basil. Lay the avocado and tofu on top, then garnish with the rest of the basil.
serves 2 for a meal, 4 as a side
*Note: if you decide to use fish or meat instead of the tofu, do NOT use the marinade for a dressing! I bet you don’t need to marinate at all, but if you choose to, throw out the marinade and make more for the dressing.
Inspired by this weeks Food Matters Project, Corn-Avocado Salad (with a little something seared on top)