Simple Suppers – Mexican salad with charred corn
As the days brighten up and good salad ingredients start to come into season it feels like time to share this simple supper dish. It’s real bowl of sunshine and is sure to cheer you up if spring hasn’t fully sprung where you are yet. Plus it’s zingy, super healthy, quick to put together and sure to give you a boost.
I started making this last summer when living in Barcelona. Those long hot days called for a meal which was light and would help rehydrate, and the full flavour of the tomatoes, lettuce and avocado meant that this was always a winner.
I tried to time myself when I made this, but I forgot to check when I finished, so my best guess is 30-35 mins from start to finish. Not bad for a satisfying meal like this. The longest part is simply blackening the corn, so make sure you start that off straight away.
Key things to know about this recipe:
– There is NO added oil or fat in it (apart from an optional extra of tortilla chips)
– It takes around half an hour to prepare (a little longer if using fresh corn)
– All you have to wash up is one chopping board, frying pan and bowl you mix the salsa in
– NO special cooking equipment or skills are needed
To my mind it doesn’t get much better than that!
This recipe is a guide really, as you don’t need exact ingredient amounts to make a salad – add more or less of the things you like to suit yourself. This is what I would make to serve 2, possibly with a bit leftover for lunch the next day.
It is a light, crunchy, sweet, zingy and flavoursome salad which is very satisfying to munch your way through. I like a nice big bowl or plate of it as it’s pretty light and very more-ish! The dressing is made up simply of lime juice and an approximation of salsa and guacamole… a salsamole if you will.
Mexican Salad with Charred Corn
- 2 little gem lettuces
- 1 red pepper
- 1 fresh or pre-cooked corn on the cob
- 1 tomato
- 1/2 properly ripe avocado
- 1 lime – zest & juice
- 1 red onion (or 2 shallots)
- 1 chilli (heat to your taste)
- Tortilla chips (optional)
- Fresh Coriander (recommended, but optional)
- Salt, Pepper, Sugar
- If you have fresh corn then parboil it for around 5 mins. If you’re using pre-cooked corn then stick your corn on the cob into a dry frying pan on a very high heat and add a little salt. The all important part… NO OIL! You will need to leave the corn in one place for at least 5 mins to blacken, then turn a little and leave it again. The aim is to get it black all over. That might seem weird, but the smoky charred taste is amazing. You could also do this on a BBQ.
- Now to prepare the salsamole. Put all the ingredients below into a bowl:
– Start with tomato which you should chop into small (roughly 1cm) cubes, discarding most of the pulpy bit and seeds from the middle.
– Use a small amount of onion – less than half – and slice it very very thinly, then dice. You want it to be nice little pieces, not big chunks of rawness.
– Scoop out half of your avocado. If it’s a very small one then use the whole thing. You can add more later if you think it needs it.
– Chop your chilli finely. Mine was pretty mild so I used the whole thing, seeds included. This is to your taste so go as wild or mild as you like.
– Finely grate the zest of half your lime. If you can’t smell a strong zingy lime scent when zesting then do the whole lime to make sure it gets that punchy flavour. This is key to lifting the whole dish.
– Squeeze in the juice of half your lime.
– If you’re adding coriander then roughly chop a handful now and throw it in.
– Add a 1/2 tsp of sugar, a big pinch of salt and some pepper (I use white pepper for a lighter spicier taste). Mix thoroughly with a fork for at least 2 mins til it is fairly liquid.Now taste and taste again. It’s important to get this bit right to make the whole dish sing. Is it lime-y enough? Spicy enough? Not too sweet? Salt levels ok? When this is done you’re over half way there.
- Check your corn – you should keep checking and turning as you go along this recipe. You want it to be nice and black all over for that char-grilled flavour. It may be that you have to press it down onto the pan. I do this with a plate to avoid burning my hands too much!
- Chop your lettuces – any way you like
- Chop up your pepper – I like mine in small cubes so it’s not overpowering when you get some in a forkful.
- Plate up! Spread the lettuce around your bowl, add the pepper and some extra tomato if you like. Drop on some dollops of salsamole (I normally do three dessert spoons full). Squeeze over the second half of your lime and add extra coriander if you are using it.
- When your corn is charred all over take it out of the pan and slice the corn off the cob, length-wise. This can get a little messy so make sure you have a big chopping board!
- Scatter the corn over the rest of the salad and finish (if you like) by crunching up some tortilla chips over the top. These add a crunch like croutons and a nice bit of seasoning too. If you don’t use them then make sure you season it with a bit more salt at this point.
Voila. Big fresh bowl of sunshine complete! Note, this is not really a very dainty dish, it’s rustic, simple and healthy, but not little and pretty!
It is perfect served with a crisp cool lager on a warm evening, or as a healthy lunch with a big glass of Super Refreshing Water.
Hope you enjoy this mexican-inspired dish. I serve up a big bowl of this which is all veggie, but you could also add some simple grilled chicken. If you want to stay veggie but need more protein then dry fry some canned beans or chickpeas with a little bit of salt & some cumin seeds and scatter those over the top.