Friday, June 22, 2012

Creamy Corn & Tomato Salad

One of the true delights of summer is the appearance of fresh corn at the farmers market. I can make a meal of hot-from-the-pot-corn-on-the-cob with a knob of butter and some salt and pepper. Seriously. More corn than one should probably consume at one sitting. It's just that good, isn't it?

In second place, though, is skillet fried corn. Mmmmm ... diced onion, red pepper and corn cut fresh from the cob, sauteed in a cast iron skillet with a little butter and/or olive oil until it is juuuust crispy-crunchy brown. Oh yeah, I could eat the entire skillet full. And maybe I have, once or twice.

And until I had this salad, I would have said those were the only best ways to eat fresh corn. But I would have spoken too soon.

Several years ago, we attended a very lovely wedding reception held under a big tent and an even grander starry sky. That's where I tasted corn salad. There is not one other thing on the menu I remember, so enchanted was I by this corn salad. I remember thinking, at first, it was a peculiar dish to serve at a wedding reception. But then, with the next bite and the next, I decided it was a truly inspired decision. I was smitten, to say the least, with yet a third to-die-for corn dish.

For years I have searched for the recipe to duplicate the dish I enjoyed so much that night. I never quite hit on it -- until this one, inspired by that memory and a fistful of close-but-no-cigar recipes. It needed to have sweet bits of red tomato, cool white cucumber, spring green onions and cheese mixed stirred into sunny yellow corn -- and a creamy dressing.

So this is it -- or as close to it as I have come so far. And because this corn salad was a hit at the Father's Day Cookout last week, I've finally decided to blog-i-fy it here today.

Don't even think I'm finished fiddling with it though. It is very good and it is very close to the taste I remember, but it doesn't quite have the familiar feel of a warm Mississippi night or the canopy of stars above me when I tasted it ... not quite yet.

If you are familiar with anything similar to this corn salad, please, please comment and share. Or, if you have some notion of how to make it creamier, without losing the other flavors, do tell.

Because I want it to be just. that. perfect. again.

Of course I do.

24 ounces fresh corn, cut from the cob (or frozen corn)
1 ½ cups shredded mild or sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup peeled and diced English cucumber
1 cup sliced green onion
1 large or 2 medium tomatoes, diced
¾ cup mayonnaise
½ cup sour cream
1 ½ tablespoons cider or white vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
Kosher salt, to taste (for table salt, use less)

Cut fresh corn from the cob; cook in boiling water, drain and cool. (If using frozen corn, follow package directions for cooking.) Blot cooked corn with paper towel to remove excess moisture. In a large bowl, combine corn, cheddar cheese, cucumbers, onions, tomatoes, and toss to blend. In a small bowl, mix mayonnaise, sour cream, vinegar and sugar with a wire whisk until well blended. Pour mayonnaise mixture over vegetables and stir until evenly coated. Taste and add salt, if needed. Cover and refrigerate until serving – a few hours, or overnight.

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