April McGreger wasn’t in the mood for potato salad. “I was having people over for fried chicken, and I needed a lighter side,” she says. That’s when she remembered her mother Nita’s corn salad. “She used to make it all the time,” says McGreger, a professional preserver who puts up the likes of muscadine marmalade and field pea salsa for her Hillsborough, North Carolina, company, Farmer’s Daughter. “If we were making burgers, we’d have corn salad. Grilled chicken? Eh, let’s do corn salad. She’d even serve it in the winter, with canned or frozen corn.” Years later, the dish was a dinner party hit for McGreger, and it’s been a staple since. “It’s very adaptable,” McGreger says. And although she has a larder full of artisan preserves, her secret ingredient is readily available at any supermarket. “I always watched my mom add a splash of canned pepper juice to the dressing,” McGreger says. “She didn’t write it in the recipe, but she’ll be the first to tell you, ‘Oh, you know, I don’t really follow the recipe.’”
Nita’s Corn Salad
A fresh summer side
photo: Peter Frank Edwards
6 ears of corn
1 cup halved cherry or grape tomatoes
1 small cucumber, diced
1/4 cup diced jarred roasted red bell peppers (plus 2 tbsp. liquid from jar)
1/4 cup diced red onion
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. mayonnaise
1/2 tsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup julienned fresh basil, or 2 tbsp. chopped fresh marjoram
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then season it generously with salt.
Add corn to the pot and blanch for 2 minutes. Remove cobs from water and place them on a baking sheet to cool. After about 15 minutes, remove kernels from cobs.
Combine all remaining ingredients except basil or marjoram, and mix well. Add kernels and mix. Chill for at least an hour, and toss in basil or marjoram just before serving.
Recipe from April McGreger of Farmer’s Daughter Pickles & Preserves in Hillsborough, North Carolina
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