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Crunchy Corn Salad 

click to enlarge SAM SIMON
  • sam Simon

When I was growing up, my family gathered for barbecues in my grandparents' backyard almost every summer weekend. I'd help my grandmother shuck piles of corn while my grandfather grilled burgers, hot dogs and Speidies — upstate-New York-style meat on skewers. I vividly remember sitting at their picnic table, wrapped in a beach towel after a swim in the pool, eating as many ears of corn as I could.

click to enlarge SAM SIMON
  • sam Simon

The summer I turned 10, I got braces. I was kind of happy about it — they were highly fashionable in the fifth grade at Charles F. Johnson Elementary School in 1985 — until I realized that corn on the cob was off limits for metal mouths. I sat glumly at my first barbecue with braces on, depressed by the prospect of an entire summer with no corn on the cob.

My grandmother picked up on my dismay and sprang into action. She took me, and a few ears of uncooked corn, into the kitchen, where she used a sharp knife to slice the juicy kernels right off the cob and into a bowl. Then, she drizzled a few spoonfuls of melted butter, and a sprinkle of salt, over the top and handed me the bowl.

"Try this," she said.

It was absolutely delicious — crunchier and sweeter than cooked corn and, best of all, consumable with a fork. Brilliant!

The recipe below also uses uncooked corn, sliced off the cob, along with other raw summer veggies, held together with a creamy dressing you can whip up in a few minutes. It's perfect to bring to a barbecue or summer dinner party. The braces-wearing guests will thank you. K

Crunchy Raw Corn Salad

Serves 6 as a side dish (adapted from Food52)

Ingredients:

  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 3 ears of fresh, uncooked corn kernels (Use a sharp knife to scrape them from the cob into a bowl, about 3 cups total.)
  • 2 medium cucumbers, unpeeled, seeded and cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 large red pepper, seeded and diced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh dill
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley
  • 1 1/2 cups crumbled feta cheese (for garnish)

For the dressing:

  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt (not Greek; it's too thick!)
  • 1 tablespoon white-wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons minced white or yellow onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced well
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • salt and black pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Add all the chopped veggies to a large bowl and toss well.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk the buttermilk, vinegar, onion, yogurt and garlic. Add the oil slowly while continuing to whisk until it's incorporated. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
  3. This salad is best when it's slightly chilled, so leave it in the fridge until you're ready to eat it. Serve the feta and dressing on the side so folks can use as much or as little as they like.

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