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Grilled Corn Salad with Black Beans, Limes, and Cotija
It’s finally warming up in San Diego!! Which means it’s grilling season and I could not be more excited. A couple of weeks ago my work held a during the work day BBQ with grilled salmon (first cured in Trippel, no less). They requested everyone bring a side dish to share, but absolutely no store bought potato salad would be allowed (thank goodness).
I decided to bring one of my summertime favorites – grilled corn salad! It’s a dish with bright flavors, great texture, and it goes oh so incredibly well with barbecue. I also love that all of the components can be cooked on the grill and then prepared ahead of time; the flavors meld together so well when they’ve been given time to mingle overnight. I even served some alongside a grilled skirt steak the night before as this recipe makes enough to feed 6 to 12 depending on portion size.
No grill? No problem! Remove the kernels from the ears, chop all of the veggies, and add to a large saute pan; cook over medium high heat in 3 tbs. butter until they pick up some color and soften up just a smidge. Add a teaspoon or two of cumin for a bit of smoky earthiness as there won’t be any grill flavor and you’re well on your way to an even simpler side.
I’m also a fan of customizing based on what’s at the market or in your fridge. Sometimes I’ll even limit the ingredients to corn, lime juice, and cotija cheese with a pinch of chili powder to create a salad reminiscent of Elotes, Mexican corn on the cob.
8 ears of corn
2 large red bell peppers
1 or 2 jalapeno peppers, chopped
3/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup cotija cheese
1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed
3 tbs. oil or melted butter
salt and pepper
Remove the silk from the ears of corn, but leave the husks on. Soak in cold water for 30 minutes.
While the corn soaks, fire up the grill. Corn likes high heat.
Remove the ears from the water and shake off any excess water. Wrap the corn back up in the husks and place on the grill. If you have a lid on your grill, go ahead and close it. Check back every 5 to 8 minutes and turn the corn so that the husk blackens on all sides without over smoldering.
Are you a fan of grilled vegetables? Place the bell peppers on the grill, as well. Turn often until the skin blisters and begins to blacken on all sides. Take off the grill and place in a paper bag for 15 minutes; this will steam the pepper and make the skin easier to remove. Peel off the blistered layer of skin, remove the stem and seeds, and dice into 1/4 inch pieces.
Once the husk is sufficiently blackened, remove the corn from the grill and allow to rest until cool to the touch.
Peel back the husks and, carefully using a sharp knife, remove the kernels from the ear.
In a large bowl, combine the red bell pepper, jalapeno, corn, cilantro, and black beans.
In a smaller bowl, whisk together the lime juice, oil or butter, and season with salt & pepper; pour over the corn salad mixture. Feeling adventurous? Try whisking in a splash or two of your favorite pilsner or kolsch with the vinaigrette and add a squeeze of agave nectar. It’ll be delicious.
Top with cotija cheese and serve with lime wedges. Optional: Before serving, gently mix in some chopped avocado for extra deliciousness.
Serve as a Summer side dish alongside BBQ and a refreshing Pilsner or Kolsch.