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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The dahlia garden--every time I go there, I can't decide if I enjoy the dahlias more or the people--everyone is so full of joy. Thanks, Heidi, for the reminder it's time to make the trek across the bay!


when corn is perfectly fresh and in season it tastes like candy...this has got to be the best salad ever! and i love those shots of the dahlia gardens...they really are some of the prettiest flowers!

I have been experimenting with corn too and I was thinking about making similar salad but with toasted almonds. I agree that corn has a great culinary potential. For example, recently, I made corn pancakes (savory or even spicy), which turned out unexpectedly delicious.

i've never had raw corn, but it looks delicious in this salad, especially with the pine nuts and sunflower seeds! ;)

I adore raw corn salads, and this lemon brown sugar dressing sounds delicious! The addition of sunflower seeds and pepitas is the perfect crunchy finishing touch. The last dahlia photo is absolutely stunning!

I love the addition of the brown sugar! It really plays up the sweet of the sweet corn. I know what I'm picking up at the farmer's market this weekend!

Never thought you could eat corn raw--but this looks amazing and healthy! Will have to try it out. The hubby just brought home a large bag of fresh corn the other night too! Thanks =)

I have a huge lotus flower tattoo incorporated in my half sleeve and if i ever add onto the piece, a dahlia flower is going to be strongly them! And yes, what a happy place that sounds like in San Fran. The corn salad...the dressing...good enough to just drink I think :)

Lemonade dressing - you had me at hello. Please excuse me while I head off to buy some corn.... Fab recipe, Heidi!

Love the fresh corn recipe...just visiting family in slovakia and its heaps of fresh corn at the week recipe it is:) Thanks again Heidi...Already made quite a few recipes for my family and friends while im overhere, having troubles to find some ingredients but always figure it out somehow and they love it...all of them know abput your books and blog now:) yay!


Simple but soooooo amazing. Thank you :)

this recipe is wonderful i love seeds and the fresh corn is one of my children's favorites ingredients!!!!

I have a corn salad that I love during the summer as well. I served it with dinner tonight, pushed dinner aside, and mostly ate salad :) Your photos are gorgeous, as always. :)

With corn just about to come into season around here, this sounds so simple and delicious. Definitely saving this recipe to make later :)

This looks and sounds perfect. I'm coming out of a long spell of cooking apathy (it's happened before but this was a long one!) and this type of salad is exactly what I need. I haven't met a recipe of yours yet that my family didn't love. I'm sure this will be no different. The dahlia photos are fab - I'm across the bay in Lamorinda and it's just been hot, hot, hot.

So it's not just me. Flora, me, camera in hand = a lot of people being driven crazy with oh! and you have to see this one, and this one, and well, you get the point :). Love the corn recipe. I eat raw corn as often as I can. I've never tried it with seeds though. Will try it next week when I go to pick it up from the farm. Way too excited.

I've had the exact same experience at the SF dalia garden. I live in Oregon, but I used to visit my grandma in SF every summer, and we would always marvel at the dalia garden. Good, good memories.

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