I had promised Kareem a cooking class over a year ago for his birthday and I had long since forgotten about it but Kareem sure hadn't. A few weeks ago I finally delivered on the long-overdue birthday gift and we visited Chef's Inc. in Los Angeles. Things have been so busy here that I've yet to write about the experience or better yet, share one of the delicious recipes that I learned!
The class we signed up for was entitled: Indoor Grilling with Diane Brown . The menu included everything from Tuscan bread with white beans to swordfish with papaya salsa. We also made a skirt steak with a delicious marinade. Of all the recipes we learned though, my favorite was the grilled corn with roasted red pepper salad. The summery components of this salad combined fantastic flavors which were enhanced by the grilling and roasting methods that we used. This salad not only tastes delicious it also looks amazing and will be a great guest at any summer table.
This salad is very easy to assemble, the only elements that require a little extra work are the corn and peppers. These can be prepared indoors or on an outdoor grill too. Either way works very well and you'll be happily rewarded with a colorful delicious salad!
Grilled Corn and Roasted Red Pepper Salad
8 Ears of fresh corn, shucked
2-3 Large red peppers
3 Scallions, sliced on a diagonal
1/4 Cup red onion, chopped
1/4 Cup white wine vinegar
1/4 Cup extra virgin olive oil, plus a little to drizzle on the corn before grilling
1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 Tablespoon fresh thyme, remove leaves from stems and chop
1/4 Teaspoon sea salt (you can add more to taste)
Hot sauce (as many dashes as you like, start with a little and adjust to meet your tastes)
A few cracks of black pepper
1) The first step is to get the corn grilled so that it has time to rest and cool so that you can easily handle it. There are several ways that you can grill the corn, if you have an outdoor grill that would work very well or you can use a grill pan on your stove top. To prepare the corn, simply shuck it and remove any of the silk or hairs and then drizzle the corn with just a little bit of olive oil. Use your hands to evenly coat the corn with the oil. Add to a hot grill or if you're using a grill pan, heat it over medium to high heat – I usually test the pan to see if it's hot by running my hand under the tap and flicking just a little water on the pan – if there's an immediate sizzle then I know that the pan is hot and ready to go! Add the corn and keep some tongs handy for turning them every now and then so that they get evenly grilled. You're looking for the kernels to be mostly brown with some of them beginning to char. You may hear an occasional "pop" – not to worry that is just some of the kernels popping. When the corn is done remove them from the heat and put them aside to cool.
2) In addition to the corn needing some time to cool, the red peppers will also need to be made in advance so that they have time to cool down after roasting. Roasting the peppers can also be done in several different ways: you can do it on a grill outside, you can do it directly on the element of your stove top if you have a gas stove or you you can stick them under the broiler. For each of these methods you'll need a pair of tongs to turn the pepper each time a side gets black. You'll need to keep an eye on these – if you're placing them directly on the elements on your stove top you'll need to watch them the entire time and turn them as they need it. Broiling seems to be the easiest method that I've tried unless you have a grill that's easy to start up. What you are trying to do here (against your better judgment) is completely char the outside of the peppers. I know that sounds strange but not to worry, the tender flesh of the pepper stays protected by the outer skin and will get sweet, soft, and delicious. So once you've chosen your method for roasting and your peppers are black and nicely charred, place them into a bowl that is large enough to accommodate them and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Covering them will allow them time to steam and that in turn will make it very easy to remove the skin and unveil the yummy roasted pepper beneath! Now one thing that is extremely important to remember is that when you remove the skin DO NOT RINSE the peppers under water – if there is a little bit of charred skin that ends up in the salad that will add great flavor. Rinsing the peppers however will remove all of that great flavor you worked so hard to achieve. Instead remove as much of the skin as possible and also remove the seeds from within and the stem. Chop into small pieces and place in a small bowl with the balsamic vinegar and include any of the juices from the peppers too. The recipe recommends leaving it overnight to marinate but in class we didn't have time to do that and it turned out delicious.
3) Cut the corn in half cross-wise so that the corn has a sturdy flat surface on which to stand while you cut the kernels from the ears. Add the corn to a medium to large sized bowl and add the peppers, red onion, scallions, thyme, white wine vinegar, olive oil, salt, hot sauce, black pepper. Mix and well and taste – adjust the seasonings accordingly.
Note: This recipe serves 4-6 people but can easily be halved if you don't plan on making this for a crowd.