Summer meals can be delightfully lazy. Buy pretty ingredients (not hard at all during the California summer), combine them in a bowl and crumble on some cheese or drizzle on some olive oil. Serve at once, preferably outdoors with good friends.
Unfortunately most of our summer meals here in Berkeley are still eaten inside. Once the sun deserts us the temperature drops with shocking speed. Where just 5 minutes ago we were blissfully warm clad in shorts and a tank top, suddenly the sun drops below the horizon and we speed into the house in search of sweatshirts and blankets.
The rest of summer is so perfect though, that it’s hard to complain about the lack of al fresco dinners. Despite what my brief blogging absence might suggest, I’m still cooking away happily every night. Perhaps I should say preparing instead of cooking, as so many of our meals have been like this salad.
Corn is grilled and then scraped off the cob. I scatter corn kernels accidentally all over the kitchen, thinking remorsefully of all the years of corn on the cob that I missed before I realized that I only liked my corn off the cob. I dice a red onion with my amateur but well-practiced knife skills. (Knife skills substitute well for most kinds of heated cooking during the summer. No need to braise when you have fresh ingredients). Corn, onion and herbs are mixed in the bowl and some cotija cheese is sprinkled on top.
I like this perfectly well by itself. I find that I want to eat each ingredient of summer alone. Strawberries by the pound, blueberries by the handful, cherry tomatoes devoured as though they were grapes. Corn taken off the cob is better for devouring with urgency. I’ve been separating my meals like a picky child who doesn’t want the food on their plate to touch; I want each flavor separate and strong. I just want to eat all the blueberries right NOW, as though I could imbed the taste into my bones and have it sustain me through a winter of beans and kale and squash.
Should you not be compelled by such a strange urgency for distinct and pure flavors, this salad is delicious wrapped in a tortilla, topped with avocado, or over a bowl of black beans. I will continue to eat it just as is and follow this salad with slices of peach for dessert. Or perhaps several more stolen handfuls of blueberries.
Corn Salad with Red Onion, Epazote and Cotija Cheese
- 4 ears of corn, grilled
- 1 red onion
- 1 small handful of epazote, about 10 leaves (can substitute cilantro as well)
- 1 oz cotija cheese
- Peel and dice the red onion while the corn is grilling.
- Chop up the epazote.
- When the corn is cool enough to handle, slice the kernels off the cob.
- Combine the corn, onion and epazote in a medium serving bowl.
- Crumble cotija cheese on top and serve warm.