With summer in the air, I am feeling some serious nom-stalgia. I will be venturing to the Russian River Valley once again in a little over a month, and I can’t stop my mind from drifting into calming daydreams of the rippling river. Last summer, the fam and I stayed at a riverfront cottage overlooking the slow-moving water and river dwellers. Although the sun rarely poked its head from beneath the clouds, there was a certain dreaminess, creating a therapeutic atmosphere. On one of my family’s ventures, we drove to Bodega Bay, a place that always seems to be overcast, giving it a cool, eerie feeling, (This is probably why Alfred Hitchcock was drawn to this locale to film his thriller, The Birds). We took a long, bundled-up walk along the rocky beaches; only a few fellow travelers were in sight. I remember our Cocker Spaniels pulling us toward the bay, where sea lions lazily rested and my Dad taking photos of our surroundings: abandoned houses, towering boulders, and an occasional wandering cow or two.
After the day’s adventure, I was inspired to cook something up on the grill. It turned out to be a recipe that has everything you want in a summer dish: charred BBQ flavors, sweet corn, cool cream, and a little spice. My Dad is the inspiration behind this recipe. He introduced me to Mexican street corn when he enthusiastically told me what he had eaten at an authentic, Mexican restaurant with a client. He just loved the combination of creamy mayonnaise and the nutty cheese atop the sweet, juicy corn kernels. So I took the idea and ran with it. My translation is served as a salad rather than on the traditional cob. I started by grilling my corn until charred and then removing the kernels by resting the cob vertically on a small upside-down bowl resting in a larger mixing bowl and slicing down (an old trick). The small bowl elevates and stabilizes the cob, while the large bowl collects the golden kernels. Then the real magic begins; the remaining ingredients are folded in: vegannaise, powdered vegan Parmesan cheese, cayenne pepper, cilantro, and lime. It’s creamy, it’s nutty, it’s juicy, and it’s spicy. I served the salad alongside some seasonal grilled peaches drizzled with agave nectar and young lettuce dressed in a simple vinaigrette. Looking for my father’s reaction, I was delighted to hear his praise and see only empty plates.
Mexican Corn Salad
serves 3 (one corn cob per person)
- 3 ears of corn- shucked, silk removed
- 4 tablespoons vegannaise
- 3 tablespoons vegan Parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/2 small bunch of cilantro-chopped
- Juice from one lime
Heat the BBQ to medium high heat. Remove the husk and silk from the corn cobs and rinse. Spray each corn cob with nonstick cooking oil (I like coconut) and season with salt and pepper, wrapping each cob individually in aluminum foil. Put the corn on the grill and close the lid. Cook for about 20 minutes. Remove the foil and let corn char directly on the grill, turning when necessary.
Cut off the kernels by placing one cob at a time on a small bowl turned face down within a large mixing bowl. When the corn from all three corn cobs has been removed, take out the small bowl and add the cilantro, vegannaise, Parmesan cheese, and cayenne pepper. Add salt and pepper to taste. Mix and top with a squeeze of lime.