Two Years Ago: Roasted Tomatoes (Preserving)
Ahhh, summer corn season. Fresh corn is only available for a few short weeks, so we tend to eat it as often as possible in every way possible. This salad is a great way to enjoy fresh corn in a light, healthy and delicious summer salad that also includes tender grilled shrimp, grilled red pepper and creamy avocado. Add a glass of chilled dry rose wine and you have the perfect summer dinner.
Our luxury in the Midwest is that we can buy corn at the local farm stand that had been picked just that morning, so it's unbelievably fresh. The very first corn of the season is always the best - the most tender and sweet, with tiny kernels. People wait all year for that corn and then just devour it.
When I was growing up, we always had fresh corn one way only - shucked, boiled and served with butter and salt. I am perfectly happy with that method to this day, but have learned the joys of grilled corn as well. There are two ways to grill corn, and they result in distinctly different tastes, textures and appearance. The first is to leave the husk on and soak the corn in water for an hour or so, then grill over medium-high heat for eight minutes, turning on all sides. After grilling the husk and corn silk very easily come off all at the same time and the corn is very tender because it basically steams in its husk. The husk and silk give it a slightly different taste than boiling that I would almost call grassy (in a good way). The second way is to shuck the corn first, then grill it directly over the same medium-high heat for the same eight minutes (two minutes per side) until browned and tender. This method give the corn more of a grilled flavor and fire-roasted appearance. Grill the pepper at the same time and let it get some of that same fire-roasted look - it greatly adds to the flavor and visual appeal of the salad.
I tend to using the husk-on method of grilling corn if we plan to eat it directly from the whole cob, and the naked grilling method if I plan to cut the kernels off to use in other dishes because they're so pretty. Here's a tip that I learned a few years ago regarding how to cut the kernels off a cob of corn without having them fly all over the place - stand the cob upright in a shallow bowl (make sure the bottom of the cob is relatively flat) and as you cut them, the kernels fall neatly into the bowl.
Here's another tip regarding grilling shrimp - thread them on two parallel skewers (soaked in water for 30 minutes so they don't burn up) and they won't spin around when you turn them.
The smoky grilled shrimp, corn and red pepper are complemented by a light vinaigrette and the cool, creamy avocado for an irresistible, healthy, fast and easy meal. What more could you ask for a perfect summer dinner?
Grilled Shrimp and Corn Salad
About 12 bamboo skewers
4 ears fresh corn, shucked
1 large red bell pepper, stemmed and seeded
1 pound medium peeled and deveined shrimp, thawed if frozen (31-40 per pound)
¼ cup olive oil
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
½ large shallot, minced
¼ cup parsley, chopped
Red leaf lettuce for garnish
1 lemon cut in quarters, plus the juice of half a lemon
Soak skewers in water for 30 minutes. Prepare a grill for medium-high heat. Holding 2 skewers parallel and slightly apart, thread shrimp onto both skewers at the same time (this makes them easier to turn on the grill).
In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar and shallot and set aside. Cut the avocado into slices and toss with the juice of half a lemon to prevent browning.
Cut the red pepper into quarters. Lightly brush the shrimp, corn and red pepper pieces with olive oil on all sides. Grill the corn directly over the heat for 2 minutes per side, until browned and tender. Grill the red pepper 2 minutes per side, until softened somewhat and browned on the edges. Grill the shrimp for 90 seconds per side.
Cut the kernels from the cobs and place into a large bowl. Chop the red pepper into ½” pieces and add to the bowl. Add the shrimp, parsley, vinaigrette and salt and pepper to taste and toss to combine.
Arrange lettuce leaves on plates and top with the corn mixture. Place several avocado slices on the side and serve with lemon wedges to squeeze over the salad.