Charred Corn Salad with Basil and Tomatoes

My mom’s birthday was earlier this month, and we finally got around to celebrating just this weekend. Shane and I hosted a cookout at our house – the first we’ve had in a while actually, and it was really fun! As usual, I stressed over the menu way too much, but in the end we decided to keep things really simple and low-key. My mom requested cheeseburgers, so we ran with that along with hot dogs, homemade baked beans, this charred corn salad, and a chocolatey dessert I’ll be sharing here before too long.

I’ll admit my motivation behind choosing this corn salad was a bit selfish. There’s seriously nothing I love more during the summer than corn on the cob and while boiling it is fine, I especially enjoy throwing it on the grill and charring the kernels. Here, the corn is charred, then cut from the cobs and combined with red onion, tomatoes and basil, and tossed with olive oil and lime juice for a fresh, bright summer salad; it really is the essence of summer.

Charred Corn Salad with Basil and Tomatoes

It’s hard to tell from the pictures, but I really let the corn get quite dark on the grill. It had that smoky flavor yet still retained a little of its crispness. I loved how simple the salad was to put together, and even better, that it could be made in advance. The salad received a lot of compliments from everyone who tried it, and is a definite repeat here this summer!

Charred Corn Salad with Basil and Tomatoes
adapted from Bon Appetit, July 2012

12 ears of corn, husked
6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion
2 large tomatoes, cored and chopped
1 cup (loosely packed) fresh basil leaves, large leaves torn
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme

Preheat your grill to high. Brush the ears of corn on all sides with 1 tablespoon of the oil. When the grill is hot, add the corn, and cook for 10-12 minutes, turning frequently, until the corn is charred on all sides. Transfer the corn to a platter and allow to cool slightly until you can handle it. Cut the kernels from the cob of each ear of corn and transfer to a large bowl. (You can make the corn up to 3 hours ahead of time – it’s fine to sit at room temperature during that time.)

Add the onion to a fine mesh strainer. Rinse well with cold water (to mellow it slightly). Drain well, then add to the bowl with the corn, along with the remaining 5 tablespoons of oil, the tomatoes, basil, lime juice and thyme. Toss to coat, then season to taste with salt and pepper. (You can assemble the salad up to an hour in advance – let stand at room temperature.)