Make Ahead

Summer Corn Salad with Toasted Grains

August  1, 2011
1 Ratings
  • Serves 6 as a side
Author Notes

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 ( —Sir Adam T. Petherbridge

What You'll Need
  • 4 ears corn, shucked
  • about 3/4 cups 2% Milk
  • 3 strips of bacon, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup sweet onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed with the flat side of a large knife
  • 2 tablespoons jalapeño, minced (with seeds and membranes -- you want a little heat)
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • 3/4 cup basmati rice
  • 1 3/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons water
  • 3 ounces Cotija cheese, crumbled
  • 3 tablespoons finely snipped garlic chives
  • 1/3 cup snipped cilantro
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  1. Prep your corn the safe way (with thanks Merrill & Kristen -- 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Finish salad by topping with remaining cheese, chives, cilantro, and a few grinds of black pepper. Serve immediately or at room temperature. Enjoy!

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • gingerroot
  • TheWimpyVegetarian
  • Oui, Chef
    Oui, Chef
  • SKK
  • hardlikearmour

Recipe by: gingerroot

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.

11 Reviews

gingerroot August 4, 2011
Thanks so much, Oui Chef and ChezSuzanne! I admire you both and your comments mean a lot to me. I’d love to hear your thoughts if you try this.
TheWimpyVegetarian August 3, 2011
Brilliant!! Love love love it. Saved to make this one asap!!!
Oui, C. August 3, 2011
Oohhh...I think I'm in love, and this isn't the first time with one of your recipes, gingerroot. Brava!
SKK August 1, 2011
Bacon and maple syrup and corn and grains - wow! Sounds great!
gingerroot August 1, 2011
Thanks so much SKK, the flavors are definitely natural partners. Btw, your corn soup sounds amazing!
hardlikearmour August 1, 2011
This sounds deliciously light and fresh! Love the rice & quinoa combo with everything else.
gingerroot August 1, 2011
Thanks so much, hardlikearmour. I first made this using toasted farro. It was good, but significantly heavier. The quinoa and basmati really make this a lovely light summer salad (and gluten free to boot - always a plus at my house!).
aargersi August 1, 2011
This sounds fabulous - plus a great idea to make and then eat for lunches all week - love it!!!
gingerroot August 1, 2011
Thanks, a! It looks like a lot but I found that I ate a lot more than planned because it's so light - not sure I'll have leftovers ALL week, lol.
lorigoldsby August 1, 2011
Can't wait to toast the quinoa! Great directions !
gingerroot August 1, 2011
Thanks, Lori!