This week’s Food Matters Project challenge was to experiment with Mark Bittman’s recipe for Corn-Avocado Salad (with a Little Something Seared on Top). It was perfect timing for a summertime dinner salad. This salad could certainly stand alone as a complete meal, but as I was having a dinner party, it served as one of three salads along with grilled salmon, chicken kabobs, and skewered prawns. Buzzing around the kitchen, I had no time to be creative with this one, so I stuck with the original recipe and tossed some smoked salmon cubes on top. It worked. The smokey flavour added a good contrast to the avocado and corn. Next time I’d eliminate the tortilla strips as I didn’t feel they added anything noteworthy and the time it took to prep them wasn’t worth the end result. But that’s just me. You might like ’em.
Sitting at the head of the table and watching the bounty of food we had prepared being passed around made me reflect on just how lucky we are to live where we do. We piled our plates with fresh seafood, free-range chicken, greens from the garden, baby potatoes tossed in a salad with crunchy veggies, and feasted on both imported and local fruit like mango, lime, strawberries, and blueberries. Is there any food I can’t obtain here? We’ve just returned from Cuba where food choices are very limited. They cook with what they have and make do with what little they can grow or import. Rice and beans predominate. While there is a lesson to be learned here about the importance of reducing our carbon footprint by eating locally produced foods, it’s also important to remember to be grateful for what we do have and what we can easily obtain.
Speaking of grateful, I’m totally thankful for that Cuban beach . . . white sand, warm aqua water, gentle breezes. Does it get any better than this?
- 4 tbsp. olive oil (or more as needed)
- 2 small corn tortillas cut into strips
- 6 ears fresh corn, stripped of their kernels
- 1 small red onion, chopped
- 1 tsp. ancho chili powder (or regular chili powder)
- 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
- 8-10 cherry tomatoes, halved (or 1 tomato, chopped)
- 1 avocado, skin and pit removed, chopped
- Juice of 1 orange
- 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1/2 – 1 cup smoked salmon chunks (or cooked prawns, or 8 small scallops, or . . . )
1. Put a thin film of oil in a large skillet and turn th heat to medium-high. When the oil is very hot but not yet smoking, add the tortilla strips and fry until crisp, about 5 minutes on each side. Remove the tortilla strips from the skillet and drain on paper towels.
2. Wipe out the skillet with a paper towel, return to high heat, and add 2 tablespoons of the oil. When the oil is hot, toss in the corn and onion. Let it sit for a minute or so, then stir or shake the pan and brown the vegetables a bit, 5 minutes of less. Transfer the corn and onion to a large salad bowl and stir in the chili powder. Add the bell pepper, tomato, avocado, orange juice and cilantro and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss well, taste, and adjust the seasoning.
3. Garnish with a sliced avocado half, smoked salmon chunks and more fresh cilantro sprigs and serve immediately.
Jenn of Vanilla-Lemon chose this week’s recipe. Head over to her blog to check the original recipe. Her photos of the French Laundry gardens are worth the visit alone! See the other participants’ ideas here.