Summer Corn Salad Recipe

A crunchy, sweet no-cook summer corn salad. The salad is a breeze, has a ton of toasted pepitas & sunflower seeds, tossed with a brown sugar lemonade vinaigrette.

Summer Corn Salad

Summer is corn salad season. And this is a good one. I lugged a big sack of corn home from the market the other day thinking I would throw together a picnic salad to take on a hike out to the coast. Raw corn kernels with a vinaigrette I've been hooked on bit lately. If you can imagine a lemonade vinaigrette made with a bit of brown sugar, you'd be in the ballpark. Beyond that, the salad gets a ton of toasted seeds for crunch, and a generous showering of Mexican oregano to bring things back to Earth. The hike fell through, and we ended up eating the salad at home instead of overlooking the Pacific. The concession? A short walk to the Dahlia garden in Golden Gate Park, which is in bloom right now.

Summer Corn Salad Recipe

I went a bit over-board with the dahlia pictures here. I can't help it. It happens every time I stop by with a camera in tow. This garden sits to the right of the Conservatory of Flowers in Golden Gate Park. A little pocket of color, easy to miss from the road. Just about this time each year the flowers explode into an incredible range of blooms. The dahlias have fanciful names like: eden lemonade, skip-to-my-lou, clouds & rain, weston pirate, and bel fiore.

Summer Corn Salad Recipe

On this particular visit I chatted with one of the gardeners. She told me about the annual sale, and the Dahlia Society of California. She was friendly, and had a meticulous pencil-drawn chart of the garden.

I'm convinced this is one of the happiest place in San Francisco this time of year. It's hard not to be charmed by these giant candy-colored pom-poms. People smile, they chat with each other, they pepper the gardeners with questions. One of my favorite classes in college was about urban planning. One of the theories we talked about was triangulation - the idea that a good public space has something for people to look at or experience together. Strangers end up talking to each other, congregating, sitting around. A shared experience. I see this dynamic at the dahlia garden, and it's part of what I love about visiting the space.

Summer Corn Salad Recipe

I hope you enjoy the corn salad if you try it. It's a breeze to throw together, and it travels well in an over-sized jar. You can toss the corn and shallots ahead of time, just leave enough room to throw the seeds and oregano in just before serving/eating. -h

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Summer Corn Salad

Save the corn cobs if you like - you can simmer them for a while to make a quick corn stock. I did this for a corn soup recently - turns out great. Also, if Mexican oregano is hard for you to come by, you can substitute fresh oregano, or chives, or whatever herbs you like, really. Mexican oregano is unique, potently fragrant, and zesty and earthy all at once - I have a fondness for it with corn, and with mushrooms as well.

6 ears of corn
1 large shallot, minced

1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
v. scant 1/2 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
2 tablespoons brown sugar
3 tablespoons sunflower oil

3/4 cup / 4 oz / 115g toasted pepitas
3/4 cup / 4 oz / 115g toasted sunflower seeds
1 teaspoon Mexican oregano

Shuck the corn and use a knife to cut the kernels from the cobs. Place the kernels in a medium bowl with the shallot while you make the dressing.

Combine the lemon juice, salt, and sugar in a small bowl or jar. Gradually add the oil, whisking vigorously until the dressing comes together. Taste, and adjust with more lemon juice, salt or sugar, if needed. This dressing should be on the sweet side, not overly tangy.

Just before serving, add the seeds to the bowl of corn along with 2/3 of the dressing. Toss well, really get everything well coated. If you want more dressing, add more to taste. Crush the oregano between your palms and let it shower down on to the salad. Toss one more time and serve.

Serves 6 or more.

Prep time: 10 minutes

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

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I make a similar dressing but use lemon juice, honey, mustard (I like Jack Daniels Old No. 7), and olive oil. It is wonderful and very addictive. I eat it nearly every day!


I love the use of raw corn in this recipe, people often don't realize how delicious it is in its raw form. I want to make this ASAP!

hi heidi, i absolutely love raw corn. so crunchy and juicy. this recipe will be perfect for my post-cleanse eating. pepitas and sunflower seeds aren't usually part of my normal pantry. which makes this recipe even better for me! i love a change-up. :)

yum, i love pepitas and sunflower seeds. this recipe looks great...and so easy!

Love this idea, but I'm still reeling from your shaved fennel salad!!!! So fresh. I added a handful of freshly picked blueberries at the end!


Heidi, I love the new cookbook! I've made a couple recipes so far and they have been fantastic. All I have to say to my husband is "it's a Heidi recipe" and he gives me the knowing grin. You are my go-to favorite.


Your salad looks fantastic. I love the seeds on top :) And those dahlias are gorgeous! I wish we had a place like that around here because I'd love to visit.

this is such a lovely way to use corn. i love the idea of a lemon brown sugar vinaigrette I've been making a ton of big mixed salads here and they are all heavily influenced by your books: lots of zest, yogurt, and simple wholesome ingredients. I appreciate all the inspiration i've gotten from you. aloha, andrea

wow...I mean really...this looks phenomenal! I truly love fresh off-the-cob corn. Hopefully I can still find some at the farmer's market tomorrow morning.

We are wild about corn salads here and your version is a must try. It is so different from anything that we've ever made before. I love the lemony vinaigrette and the sunflower seeds. Simply delicious.

Thanks for the recipe, Heidi. Looks delicious, and the pairing of the corn, lemon-y vinaigrette and mexican oregano sounds so good. I was in San Fransisco last week for a couple of days, and I loved it so much. One of my favorite cities I think I've ever been to. Just wanted to flatter your city. :D

Fantastic! I just got 9 ears of corn from our CSA and I was overwhelmed by them! Not anymore - I'll be making this soon. Thanks!

I'm ashamed to say that I've clearly walked past the Dahlia dell dozens, possibly hundreds, of times and I've never noticed it! That will clearly need to be rectified tomorrow! The salad sounds fantastic! It'll be on the menu for next week when it's supposed to get all steamy down here in the valley. Maybe I'll throw it over some millet or bulghur or spinach to bulk it up. Yum!


Every recipe I have tried from you has been a winner - am so looking forward to trying this corn one with the extra corn I have for tonight's bbq. A big thank-you Heidi!!


This salad looks delicious, and I am so glad you "went overboard" with the dahlia pictures! They're one of my favorite flowers. The photo above of the lavender dahlia is unbelievably lovely. Thanks for sharing!

This looks fantastic! As I type this I have two loaves of your zucchini bread recipe in my oven. Yum.

It's perfect for a lazy day... I love it. I actually have some pepitas at home that I bake in the oven with smoked paprika, cayenne, cumin and sea salt and I think it would be go perfect with your creation. Thanks and have a happy Friday!

Love the pics Heidi. I'm exactly the same when carrying a camera. I have never eaten raw corn, and I'm from Iowa. Ok. heading to the farmers market in the morning!

Cheryl Parsons

Lovely as always Heidi :)

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