This simple salad brings together sweet corn and toasted grains to create a light dish perfect for summer entertaining. Bacon and Cotija provide a salty contrast, while jalapeño brings a little heat. Toasting the grains coaxes out their natural nuttiness, while cooking them in a combination of corn milk and dairy milk keep them sweet, which complements the corn. —gingerroot
Test Kitchen Notes
Don't let the name fool you, this salad ain't just about corn. Sure, it's got plenty of stuff that's good for you, like protein-rich quinoa, but it's the spicy-salty-smoky blend of bacon, jalapeño, and cotija cheese that complements the sweet punch of fresh summer corn ands make for a new bite every time.
Add that combination to the one-pot (or, in this case, Dutch oven) recipe and you've got a perfect dish for summer cookouts and picnics, near home or uptown. I paired it with some prosciutto, Taleggio and spinach sandwiches, washed down with this Orange Ginger Mint Soda (http://food52.com/recipes...). —Sir Adam T. Petherbridge
6 as a side
ears corn, shucked
about 3/4 cups
strips of bacon, finely chopped
sweet onion, finely chopped
cloves garlic, peeled and smashed with the flat side of a large knife
jalapeño, minced (with seeds and membranes -- you want a little heat)
Prep your corn the safe way (with thanks Merrill & Kristen -- http://food52.com/blog/2259-how-to-de-kernel-corn) by placing one ear horizontally on a cutting board or the work surface in front of you. Hold one edge of the corn while slicing the kernels off the opposite side with a sharp knife. Rotate cob so that the flat, cut side is now sitting firmly on your work surface and repeat until you have cut around the entire ear. Repeat with remaining ears of corn. You should have between 2 to 3 cups of kernels (depending on the size of your ears). Place in a bowl and set aside.
Milk your cobs one at a time by standing upright (trimming the end to make it sit flat if necessary) in a pie plate and, carefully work downwards, scraping the cob with the backside of your knife. Continue on all sides of the cob. Repeat with remaining cobs. Transfer mixture to a two cup or quart Pyrex measure -- you should have about 3/4 cup corn milk and pulp. Add enough dairy milk so that entire mixture measures 1 1/2 cups. Set aside.
In a Dutch oven, cook bacon over medium heat until it's crispy and the fat has rendered. Using a slotted utensil, transfer bacon pieces to a small bowl and set aside.
Add onion, flattened garlic, corn kernels, and jalapeño to bacon drippings. Add a pinch of salt and maple syrup. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring to ensure nothing burns. Transfer corn mixture to a bowl and set aside to cool.
Return Dutch oven to heat and immediately add quinoa and basmati to begin toasting, stirring constantly to prevent burning. Toast until grains are fragrant and golden brown, about 6 minutes. Carefully add water (grains will sizzle and spit) turning heat down if necessary. Add reserved corn milk-dairy milk mixture from Pyrex. Bring mixture to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to low to simmer. Cook for 20 minutes, until liquid is completely absorbed and grains are tender.
Gently fluff grains with a fork and transfer to a large serving bowl to cool. Help grains cool by pulling from the bottom of the bowl with a spatula, essentially folding from the bottom up.
Once the grains have cooled a bit, fold in crispy bacon pieces and any oil that accumulated in the bowl. Continue to build the salad by thoroughly folding in the corn-onion-jalapeño mixture, then half of the Cotija cheese, half of the chives, and half of the cilantro. Your ingredients should be evenly distributed.
Finish salad by topping with remaining cheese, chives, cilantro, and a few grinds of black pepper. Serve immediately or at room temperature. Enjoy!
My most vivid childhood memories have to do with family and food. As a kid, I had the good fortune of having a mom who always encouraged trying new things, and two grandmothers who invited me into their kitchens at a young age. I enjoy cooking for the joy it brings me - sharing food with loved ones - and as a stress release. I turn to it equally during good times and bad. Now that I have two young children, I try to be conscientious about what we cook and eat. Right about the time I joined food52, I planted my first raised bed garden and joined a CSA; between the two I try to cook as sustainably and organically as I can. Although I'm usually cooking alone, my children are my favorite kitchen companions and I love cooking with them. I hope when they are grown they will look back fondly at our time spent in the kitchen, as they teach their loved ones about food-love.
Best of all, after years on the mainland for college and graduate school, I get to eat and cook and raise my children in my hometown of Honolulu, HI. When I'm not cooking, I am helping others grow their own organic food or teaching schoolchildren about art.