Corn and Radish Salad

You simply don’t see the French relishing fresh corn-on-the-cob quite like we do. In fact, the time or two I’ve seen épis de maïs (corn on the cob) on a French menu, it was served as a separate course—a simple starter instead of a more common starter such as soup or pâté. It makes sense: Fresh and sweet in-season is so good, why wouldn’t you let it star as its own course?

Corn does, however, make its way into salads with other in-season vegetables, and I’ve noticed that the spark of olives and the licoricey notes of tarragon (as part of fines herbes combo, below) do nice things to corn. The mustiness of sage makes a great contrast as well–to go that route, use 1/4 cup snipped fresh parsley and 2 teaspoons snipped fresh sage.

Makes 4 servings

3 fresh ears corn
1 garlic clove
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon mustard
3 dashes hot red pepper sauce
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups torn fresh baby lettuces, including some spicy greens such as frisée and arugula
3/4 cup sliced radishes, preferably mild-flavored radishes
1 sweet red pepper, diced
1/4 cup chopped pitted imported black olives, such as Niçoise or Kalamata
1/4 cup snipped fines herbes, or 1/4 cup snipped parsley and chives and 1 teaspoon crushed dried tarragon.

1. Place corn in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil; cover. Turn off the burner and let corn cook in the hot water for 10 minutes. Prepare a large bowl of ice water for cooling cooked corn.

2. While corn is cooking, make the vinaigrette: In a small bowl mash the garlic clove and the salt and pepper to taste with the back of a spoon. Whisk in the vinegar and stir until salt is dissolved. Whisk in the mustard and pepper sauce, then whisk in the olive oil until incorporated. Set vinaigrette aside.

3. Plunge cooked corn into the ice water, allowing it to stand for 2 to 3 minutes or until kernels are cool. Remove ears from water, pat them dry, and scrape kernels off the cobs using a sharp knife.

4. In a medium bowl, toss the lettuces, radishes, sweet pepper, olives, herbs, and corn. Drizzle with the vinaigrette and toss again to serve.

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