Perfect Picnic Corn Salad

Lettuce wilts. Mayonnaise spoils. It takes a special salad to maintain its flavor and appearance an hour into the heat of a summer picnic or barbecue–coleslaw, potato or Caesar won’t do. You can place this tasty and colorful corn salad on any buffet table and rightly expect to take home an empty bowl.

The recipe originated with my mother-in-law’s friend, Nancy–a woman whom I don’t ever recall meeting, yet think of every summer as I pull out the dog-eared, balsamic-stained paper that bears her scrawled tips to “avoid overdressing–doesn’t need it” and to “add grilled chicken to serve as a main dish.”

For fresh summer flavor, this dish calls for you to eschew frozen or canned corn and shear the kernels straight from the cob instead. One YouTube corn enthusiast offers the following creative method for making efficient work of this tough task: Prop the woody end of the cob in the center of a Bundt pan and use a serrated knife for clean cutting and catching of your corn. Another corn lover/possible carpenter demonstrates how to use a drill to quickly push cobs through a purchased cutter, which seems like the kind of thing I’d have to hire a handyman to do.

Whatever method you choose, get thee to a kitchen to mix up a batch for your next outdoor eating event (or eat it inside at home–I won’t judge you for spooning giant mouthfuls right from the serving bowl) then prepare to make copies of the recipe for inquiring friends.

Nancy’s Fresh Corn Salad

serves 8-10 as side dish

  • 8 ears of corn
  • 4-5 stalks of celery, thinly sliced
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1/2-3/4 medium red onion, chopped
  • 2 bunches arugula, torn into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup crumbled blue cheese
  • 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste


1. Bring large pot of water to boil on stove. Remove husks and silk from ears of corn and place shucked ears into boiling water for 3-4 minutes. Don’t overcook; the short cooking time ensures a crisp fresh bite. Drain and cool corn.

2. Cut corn off cob and put kernels in a big bowl. Add celery, pepper, onion, arugula and tomatoes. Dress with vinegar and olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Toss mixture.

3. Sprinkle crumbled blue cheese on top of salad. Enjoy.

Variation: If the strongly flavored blue cheese isn’t to your taste, try crumbled feta or goat cheese.

Variation: For a bit of sweetness, use balsamic glaze instead of vinegar. Or add a handful of dried cranberries.


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