Last week I did a fun appearance on Twin Cities Live, where I made some summery sweet corn dishes. At one point in the show, I said that the sweet corn right now is so fresh and sweet that you can just eat it raw. The show’s host was surprised. Of course, most people cook their sweet corn.
In fact, they probably overcook it. So why not go the other way?
The first time I really appreciated raw sweet corn, I was on a long bike ride with a friend, and we came upon a farmstand selling corn alongside the road. We pulled up and looked longingly at the corn, hungry and thirsty, baking in the sun. My friend grabbed a bag of the amazingly fresh corn, pulled out two ears, and stuffed the rest into her pack. We then stripped the husks and tore into those fat, juicy raw ears of corn.
It was like candy.
So, it has always been in my mind that sweet corn is absolutely good raw. Of course, it is pretty great boiled, grilled, sauteed, and just about any way that you want to cook it. As long as you don’t overcook it.
Corn in the Midwest is like a religious experience. The corn is the sacrament of Summer, to be prepared and revered for the fleeting experience it is. In fact, it’s almost not a vegetable, it a treat.
Which is lovely, I love it when people just love a food for its own qualities, and ignore the fact that it is good for you. In fact, most people think of corn as not really that good for you.
But in fact, sweet corn has really high levels of the lutein and zeaxanthin that protect your eyes from macular degeneration. Corn is a great source of protective antioxidants and carotenoids. It also contains some special fiber that beneficial bacteria in your gut just LOVE. But let’s not talk it up to the kids, right?
In this salad, I used a handful of fresh mint, and a big chunk of one of the preserved lemons that I talked about in a past post. If you don’t have those, you can just use more lemon juice. The tanginess of the lemony dressing plays with the super sweet, tender-crisp corn in a way that will bring your palate to life.
So get into the quintessence of August with some pure, sweet, corn. It’s fleeting, don’t let it get away.
Minty Raw Corn Salad with Avocado Green Goddess
Makes about 6 cups
3 ears sweet corn, cut off the cob
3 small tomatoes
1 medium pattypan squash, cut in thin wedges
1/2 cup fresh mint, slivered
1 large scallion, slivered
1 clove garlic
1/4 preserved lemon, pulp and peel
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons vegetable stock
salt to taste- the preserved lemon is salty, you may need only a pinch
1. Toss the salad ingredients in a bowl. In a food processor, mince the garlic and preserved lemon to mince. Add the avocado, process, scrape down to make a smooth puree. Add the oil and lemon juice and process, and whip in the vegetable stock to make pourable. Salt to taste. Arrange the salad and drizzle the dressing over it. Toss just before serving.