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Southwestern Grilled Corn and Chili Salad


You probably wouldn’t recognize my kitchen table on Sunday mornings. It’s pretty fun to look at, though. Old recipe boxes are stacked on top of each other. Mounds of heritage recipes that I’ve researched, collected and categorized fill the tabletop from corner to corner. Then the organizing begins.

The pile that’s always the highest is the “gotta make it now” category. Because of your family stories and kitchen memories attached to these recipes, Sunday mornings for me have become rich and rewarding “play dates” that I relish.

This week I reached through my paper trove to open the diary that I kept while on the road rescuing recipes a few years ago. Out fell a sheet of paper and along with it the memory of Tucsonan Selina Ramos, who had emailed me about her family’s Southwestern Grilled Corn and Chili Salad recipe.

Her note mentioned that it’s perfect as a picnic salad or a tomato-less salsa for chip dipping. I stuck it on the “gotta make it now” pile and made it later in the day. This salad is really delicious because it has that fantastic Southwestern flavor of grilled corn off the cob. The variety of hot chillies and bell peppers add a lot of flavor, and the hint of cumin brings it all together. I had never thought of grilling jicama before, but it was wonderful in this combination. Selina’s got the right idea with this dish being a great picnic or backyard barbecue salad because it transports and holds up well in the heat.

In fact, it can be eaten warm right from the skillet or chilled.

Selina’s Southwestern Grilled Corn and Chili Salad

2 tablespoons olive oil
4 large fresh ears of corn
1 poblano or hatch chili, chopped fine
1 large jalapeño pepper, chopped fine
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
1 cup chopped jicama
1 bunch green onions, sliced thin (about 7 onions)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped fine
Juice of 1/2 lemon (or juice of 1 large lime)
1 teaspoon garlic salt or sea salt
1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper

In a large skillet, heat olive oil on medium high heat. Slice corn from the husks and cook in olive oil until kernels become browned. (Caution, kernels can pop slightly.) Note: You can also grill corn on the husk until blackened, then slice off the kernels and add to skillet. Proceed to next step.

Turn heat to high and to the corn add chillies, bell peppers, jicama, green onions and cumin, stirring constantly. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Pour mixture into serving bowl. Toss in cilantro, lemon or lime juice, garlic salt or sea salt and pepper.

Serve warm or chilled.