While we were up north, T. & A. kindly hosted a barbeque that allowed us to see other New York friends all in one convenient visit. Being the food-obsessed girl that I am, I asked to help with the eats, and tossed together a few salads to accompany T.'s delicious chicken-bacon-pineapple-veg kebabs. (I wish I had a few of those right now. Mmmm...the grilled pineapple and bacon was reminiscent of hawaiian pizza's flavor, but tastier.)
I would like to take a second to give a huge thank you to T. & A. for their hospitality and friendship. We love you!
And now, back to our regularly scheduled eating.
The first salad was a slightly modified Ina Garten recipe for fresh corn salad. Very easy, very refreshing, and maddeningly addictive. I like to grill the ears of corn instead of boiling them as Ina originally intended. It just adds so much flavor and interest.
The second is my mom's potato salad, always a hit at these sort of events. Over the years we've tweaked it a bit, adding scallions and celery salt to her original recipe. This one just gets better the longer it sits, so feel free to make life a little easier by making it a day or two ahead. I apologize for the less-than-gorgeous picture (garnish would have been nice)...but really, potato salad will never be the dazzling queen of the 'Q. Tasty? Yes. Creamy? Yes. A taste of summer? Yes. Sexy? Not so much.
Fresh Corn Salad
adapted from Ina Garten
If your corn is not perfectly in season yet, but you can't resist making the salad, you may find it's missing a little something when you taste for seasoning. The sugars haven't fully developed yet, and that's what your palate is looking for. Slip a few teaspoons of sugar into the bowl when no one is looking. Stir to combine and taste again. Better, right?
Not able or not inclined to grill your corn? Remove the husks and silk, and plunge into boiling water for 3-4 minutes, until fully cooked.
5 ears of corn, husks and silk removed
2/3 C red onion, diced small
4 Tb apple cider vinegar
3 Tb olive oil
1/2 C fresh basil, sliced thinly or torn into small pieces
Freshly ground black pepper
Rub ears of corn with a little oil just to moisten, and place on a hot grill. Cook, turning every now and again, until the corn is fully cooked and browned in spots. Kernels should be just tender, not mushy. Let the corn sit for a few minutes until cool enough to comfortably handle. Stand each cob up (flatter end pointing down for stability) on a cutting board, and slice down along it to remove the kernels. This makes a mess as every now and again a rogue kernel makes a desperate bid for freedom. (I've heard of some people standing the cob up on the center of a bundt pan, and letting the kernels fall in as a way of keeping things a little neater. I haven't tried it yet.) Place the kernels, diced red onion, oil, and vinegar in a bowl and toss. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. If you are making this a few hours ahead of time, stop now. Basil that sits for too long will lose flavor and turn limp and dark. When you are ready to serve, add basil and toss to combine. Can be served cool or at room temperature. I don't recommend substituting canned corn for fresh in this recipe, as the texture and flavor just aren't the same.
Mom's Potato Salad
This makes a big batch, so feel free to scale down the recipe. If you don't want to cook and crumble the bacon, you can use those bags of "Oscar Mayer Recipe Pieces" (2 bags worth) that are in the salad aisle, but the fresh cooked is so, so much better.
5 lbs red potatoes, washed and cut into 1" chunks
6 eggs, hard boiled
2 bunches of scallions, washed, root and tough ends trimmed off
1 lb of bacon, cooked and crumbled
1-1 1/2 C Mayonnaise
Freshly ground black pepper
Place the cut potatoes in a large pot of cold water and bring to a boil. Boil 12-15 minutes, until fork-tender. Remove from the heat and drain in a colander. Set aside to begin cooling. Peel and chop hard-boiled eggs, and place in a very large bowl with the crumbled bacon. Slice the scallions medium-thin and add to the bowl. Add cooled potatoes and toss to mix. Begin adding mayo. Start with the smaller amount just in case, and add more until ingredients are lightly coated, but not drowning in it. Add celery salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. (That's a lot of potatoes, so I'd start with a 1 Tsp of celery salt and a 1/2 Tsp of pepper, mix, taste, and continue tweaking). Place in the refrigerator to cool. If you make this ahead, take it out of the fridge a few minutes before serving, mix it again, and be sure the salad isn't too dry. The potatoes may have sucked up some of the mayo while sitting, and you may wish to add a little more to moisten.