Grilled Corn Salsa with Avocados

What could be a better way to celebrate the late summer vibe than enjoying some delicious sweet corn, vine-ripened tomatoes, perhaps an avocado and a spicy pepper…yes, even freshly made corn tortillas and an ice cold drink (for me, that would be a beer).

This salad captures that mood in the form of a delicious salsa and a heavy hint of Mexico teasing your senses – maybe even your holiday memories.

I’ve chose to give the corn a boost in flavor by grilling it first – just long enough to make some of the kernels turned a nice shade of black. I selected meaty, vine-ripened tomatoes – very important in this salad because I don’t want the tomato aromas to become lost in the other bold flavors. The avocado provides the fat in this dish, eliminating the need to use any oil. The limes and a touch of vinegar create the acidic balance that bring the spices to life and really make this salsa sing like a wandering mariachi band on the streets of Mexican seaside village. Of course…a portion of freshly made corn tortillas help complete the image.

Yield: makes about 4-6 servings

  • 3 ears fresh sweet corn

  • 1 red onion, sliced into thin half moons

  • 2 medium-sized tomatoes (see tips), cut into medium cubes

  • 1 avocado, peeled and chopped into large cubes

  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped (optional)

  • 2 limes, juiced

  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin

  • 1 teaspoon pimenton de la vera (smoked paprika)

  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • 1 bunch chopped coriander

  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper to season

  • Start this salad by grilling the corn. Heat your grill (barbecue) on high heat for at least 20 minutes. Wash your corn and remove all of the husks and silky stringy white bits that may be on the corn. When the grill is hot, simply place the unseasoned corn on the grill and cook about 3-4 minutes per side…making sure to keep an eye on the corn to prevent it from cooking too much and drying out. You want some of the kernels to turn blackish, but certainly not all of them. Remove the corn when they are cooked and cool completely.
  • Remove the kernels from the corn cob by holding the corn upright and guiding a small serrated knife straight down the cob – try to work just as close to the cob as possible and remove the whole kernel. Be patient with your slicing, but I’m sure you will find this task simple. I would also recommend doing the slicing bit in a bowl or large pan to contain the kernels.
  • Put all the kernels into a bowl. Add the sliced onions, cubed tomatoes, avocado cubes and the chopped jalapeno (if using). In a smaller separate bowl, mix together the lime juice, vinegar and all the spices. Add this dressing to the corn mixture. Add the chopped coriander and mix well. Adjust the seasoning and serve either cold or at room temperature. This salad is especially good when accompanied by freshly made corn tortillas.

Jack’s Fresh Tip

Using fresh corn is by far your best option, although you can use frozen corn during the off-season if you feel the need to have this salad. If using frozen corn, I would recommend stewing the kernels in a small amount of water in a frying pan for about 3 minutes. Allow the water to evaporate and continue to cook the corn until they start to caramelize. Remove from the heat, cool completely and proceed with the recipe.

The selection of fresh tomato is important in this salad. Try to find a very meaty variety that has little water and few seeds. I use a common variety found in farmer’s markets during the late summer months called ‘Ochsenherz’ (ox heart). This tomato is ribbed, large and has practically no seeds…and it has a lot of flavor.

Substitute a sweet paprika for the smoky one I used in the recipe if you can’t find any Pimenton de la Vera.

If using the jalapeno in the recipe, then consider grilling it at the same time you are grilling the corn. Allow the skin to turn very dark, then peel it away once the pepper is cool enough to handle. Cut out and remove the seeds if you want to tame the heat.

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