Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Backyard Recipe: Fresh Corn and Red Pepper Salad

I have no hostility to nature, but a child's love to it. I expand and live in the warm day like corn and melons. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Fresh and tasty.
Here’s another recipe to help you enjoy your company rather than your kitchen when having a backyard gathering. Hopefully the weather will be stellar on the weekends for the majority of the summer like it was this past one. (As if that’s going to happen… we live and hope.)

Did you know there’s a reason we seem to have so many rainy weekends on the eastern seaboard of North America? We all complain about the weather, but in our case our complaints are true.

Boil corn for only 5 minutes. Photo: mafleen, Flickr ccl
The “exhaust” from all of the industry in southern and central USA and Quebec/Ontario in Canada follow two paths; in the US it comes up the coast, in Canada it comes across the continent. An entire week’s worth of pollutants meet over what area? The northeastern American States and Atlantic Canada.

We are literally the tailpipe of the continent. This is scientific fact. I have personally seen the results of studies published by the Government of Nova Scotia. I laid out the publication about 10 years ago as part of my job as a graphic designer.

What does this mean for rain? Two things. The first is that the exhausted moisture caught up in the cloud cover becomes so heavy by the end of the week it has to fall (as rain). The second is that all the pollutants in that moisture fall over us as well. One result is what is called “acid rain” that has so decimated our local rivers and lakes.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s my uncle, working for the Federal government, conducted studies on the effect of liming to potentially reduce the detrimental impacts of acid rain on our salmon populations. Currently the salmon in our rivers are significantly less than in the 1970s. We only have a small fraction of salmon from before that time when we were known as a mecca for sports fishermen. That’s how toxic our waterways have become.

But enough of my preaching. I wanted to talk about corn salad.

One of the problems about having people over for barbecues and deck parties is feeding them while enjoying their company. You really need recipes you can make ahead so you too can have a cold drink in your hand.

This is a good recipe that can be made even a few days ahead. It combines fresh (or canned) corn with red pepper and onion in a sweet vinegar marinade. This would be a perfect second dish to serve with my three bean salad (posted HERE).

Corn fresh off the cob is the best, but many of the whole kernel canned corns would be just as good. To remove the kernels from the cob all you need is a sharp knife. Run the blade down the ears between the kernels and the cob. Simplicity itself.

Of course the corn has to be cooked first. Canned corn is cooked enough as it is, but fresh needs to be boiled – 5 minutes only, in salted water. Actually corn on the cob should only be cooked or 5 minutes to swerve whole.

An option, if you don’t want to dirty a pot, is to bake with the husk still on the ears. Just preheat the oven to 350°F and pop the ears in the oven. They will be done in 20-25 minutes. That’s slower than boiling, but will give the corn a bit of a roasted taste.

So without further ado...

The leftovers, after 4 servings.
Fresh Corn and Red Pepper Salad
Yield: about 1.5 L
6 ears of corn (or 2 cans whole kernels)
1 lg red pepper, diced
1 medium onion, diced
2 medium carrots, cut thin and about 1” long
2 stalks celery, diced
1/2 cup vinegar
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 tsp cayenne
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

Boil or roast (your preference) the whole corn and remove the kernels. Place in a bowl with the remaining ingredients and toss well.

Cover with plastic wrap and let marinate for at least 2 hours on the counter. A day or two in the refrigerator is even better.


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