Make Ahead

Corn Salad with Cilantro & Caramelized Onions

by:
August  4, 2011
Author Notes

The good recipes get passed along from friend to friend like a game of telephone, with each cook adding their own twist until the last version is barely distinguishable from the first. This corn salad is one of those. My recipe was inspired by my friend Sandra, who brought it to a BBQ one day, where it was love at first bite. Her recipe was inspired by our friend Chris, and who knows where it truly began but it always ends with an empty bowl. Simple summer goodness. When I told Sandra she should enter the recipe in this contest, she said that I should enter my version instead, so here we are....Pass it on. - Ms. T —Ms. T

Test Kitchen Notes

Over the years, we've met and loved many a corn salad. The cool, sweet crunch practically screams summer, and the variations are endless. Ms. T's version includes a technique we've never seen before: first, she has you cook down red onion in balsamic vinegar and olive oil -- as the onion pieces soften into silky, purple jewels, they simultaneously create a rich, deeply flavored dressing for the rest of the salad. Once you toss this luscious mass with crisp pancetta cubes, fresh cilantro and barely cooked kernels of corn, you've got a corn salad that breaks new ground. We couldn't stop eating it, right from the bowl. - A&M —The Editors

  • Serves 6
Ingredients
  • 6 ears of fresh corn
  • 6 slices pancetta
  • 1 large red onion, peeled and diced
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. Cook the corn on the cob in a large pot of boiling water for about 10 minutes. Drain hot water and plunge corn into a bowl of ice water to stop cooking. Drain corn and set aside to cool completely.
  2. Dice pancetta and cook in a heavy skillet over medium heat until brown and crispy. Use a slotted spoon to transfer pancetta to a plate lined with paper towels. Set aside.
  3. Pour off most of the pancetta fat from skillet, leaving a little goodness left in the pan for cooking your onions. Add oil, onions, vinegar, sugar, and dash of salt to pan, and cook over medium-low heat. Cook for about 20-25 minutes, stirring frequently until onions are caramelized and most of the liquid has evaporated. Remove pan from heat and set aside.
  4. Cut corn kernels off of the cobs and place in a large bowl. Add onion mixture and cilantro and stir to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper and if it seems dry, add a little more olive oil.
  5. If you’re making this ahead of time, cover and put it in the fridge. Take salad out about 3o minutes before serving to take chill off. Stir in ccrispy pancetta just before serving.
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A museum marketing professional 8 hours a day, and a gal who's dreaming, drooling, obsessing about food for the other 18 hours. Wait, that doesn't add up to 24? Oh, that's because I'm counting the hours I'm supposed to be working that I dream about food (don't tell my boss). Several years ago, I started a cooking club with six girlfriends...ten years later...many of our addresses and last names have changed, our palettes have gotten more sophisticated and the wine has gotten less cheap. We now usually sit at dining room tables like grownups instead of on cushions on the floor of studio apartments, and the conversations have shifted with the life stages...but we're still going strong, the food gets better every month, and nothing is more pleasurable than sharing an afternoon laughing, eating, and trading tips on recipes and life.