While thinking about tonight’s salad, I first began with wanting to use corn on the cob since its season is quite short in this part of Canada. We get a few weeks of gloriously sweet corn, then you better be ready to make cornmeal because it dries and its fresh burst of sweetness is gone for another year.
I started veering towards a Mexican direction because I was also making quesadillas for dinner. I thought of the Mexican method of grilling corn and slathering it with a bunch of flavours: sour cream, cheese, chiles, green onions, etc. I also saw that oftentimes, they carve the corn off the cob and make a salad of sorts with these same ingredients. Depending on where you are in Mexico, it can be called Elote or Esquites. Elote is often used to describe corn on the cob itself, but can also be the name of the prepared corn dish. Esquites is a naming variablity on the corn salad in central and southern Mexico.
The corn can be steamed or grilled on the cob, then carved with the flavours. I decided to grill my corn, then instead of sour cream, I used yogurt for a lighter, smoother tartness and feta as the cheese component to give a sharp bite. Sometimes the chiles can be dried or fresh in traditional Mexican corn salad, but I decided to pan roast a fresh jalapeno with a couple of garlic cloves in brown butter to add a deeper flavour. This created a wonderful flavour combination.
Grilled Corn and Feta Salad with Brown Butter Roasted Garlic Jalapeno Dressing
For the Brown Butter Roasted Garlic Jalapeno Dressing:
2 cloves garlic
1 whole jalapeno
3 Tbsp butter
1/3 cup plain yogurt
1/2 tsp salt
Melt the butter in a small pan over medium heat. Remove 1 Tbsp of the melted butter and set it aside to grill the corn. In the remaining melted butter, add the garlic and whole jalapeno. Start to roast in the pan as the butter starts to brown. Turn the garlic and jalapeno every 3-4 minutes as they become golden. Set aside to cool.
Peel away the outer part of the garlic because the roasting process will have toughened it. Finely chop the garlic, mashing it lightly with the edge of your knife. Remove the stem and seeds of the jalapeno and finely mince the chile. If you are sensitive to heat, use only half of the roasted jalapeno and reserve the rest for another use, otherwise, add it, with the minced garlic, to a small bowl. Add the yogurt and salt and allow to sit for 30 minutes to let the flavours blend.
For the salad:
4 cobs of fresh corn, husk and silks removed
Reserved 1 Tbsp melted butter
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
2 green onions, finely chopped
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
Reserved Brown Butter Roasted Garlic Jalapeno Dressing
Set a grill to medium high heat. Brush the cobs of corn with melted butter and grill until golden on all sides (about 10-12 minutes). When cool enough to touch, carve the kernels off the cob into a medium bowl. Add the red and green onion with the feta cheese. Stir gently to combine. Add the dressing and fold in gently to combine completely. Divide into two bowls. Serves 2.