Grilled Corn Salad with Feta, Cucumbers, and Red Onion
The quintessential summer favorite shines even brighter with a salty, acidic kick.
Welcome to SAVEUR’s weekly column on how to cook local produce along with our test kitchen manager, Fatima Khawaja. This is where you’ll find creative, unfussy meal ideas plus plenty of cooking advice—like what to do with that bumper crop of zucchini or how to store delicate heirloom tomatoes. Each week, Fatima hits the farmers market and chooses a peak-season ingredient to explore in depth. Follow along, and you’ll learn how to turn the season’s bounty into easy plant-based meals that’ll be on the table in under an hour.
I can’t stop raving about summer produce. Every vegetable and fruit at the markets these days is at its peak. Juicy tomatoes, ripe stone fruit, and—my favorite for grilling—corn are all here. When I see the plump, packed kernels, all tucked away in pale green and golden husks, I feel like summer is finally in full swing. And corn is usually priced so low that you’ll want to buy a dozen ears before you wonder how you’ll carry them all home.
I grew up eating sweet corn in Pakistan. Roasted over hot coals, sprinkled with lime and chaat masala, and wrapped in newspaper, it was the perfect after-school snack. My mom would buy it for me for 30 rupees (50 cents at the time) from wooden carts parked outside the school gates.
Here I’ve tried to recreate this food of my childhood, with the same puckering acidity and tangy bite. This recipe uses charred corn, creating a smoky but sweet salad you’ll be making over and over until the warm weather runs out. If you don’t have a grill, you can cook the corn in a grill pan (about 15 minutes total over high heat). The salad has ample sharp onion, salty feta (or queso fresco), and lots of cilantro and lime, making it the perfect companion for grilled seafood and barbecued meats (but just as satisfying on its own eaten with a spoon).
When shopping for corn, look for wide ears and thick husks. You can sometimes find more than one type, like the butter and sugar variety, which has yellow and white kernels (a favorite, since it’s a little sweeter than all the other varieties), or the silver king and silver queen, which are yellower in color.
Whichever you buy, it’ll taste great in this recipe. When shopping, take a peek at the kernels by peeling back the husk slightly; they should be firm, and mold- and bug-free. In the dead of winter, when you can’t find fresh corn, you can use frozen kernels—I just cook them in a skillet on high heat, with a couple of tablespoons of oil until they darken.
Store corn in the refrigerator with the husks intact to prevent it from drying out. Have a few ears left over? You can slice off the kernels and freeze them in a freezer bag. Alternatively, consider making Mexican-style street corn, or leave it raw and whip up one of my favorite pakora recipes.
- 6 large ears of sweet corn, shucked
- ½ cup finely chopped cilantro
- ¼ cup fresh lime juice
- 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1 tsp. chaat masala
- 2 medium English cucumbers, coarsely chopped
- 1 medium red onion, finely chopped
- 8 oz. feta cheese, crumbled (1 cup)
- Kosher salt
- Heat a charcoal grill or set a gas grill to high. Grill the corn, using tongs to turn occasionally, until charred all over, 7–10 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board. When cool enough to handle, and with the cobs lying flat, slice off the kernels and transfer to a serving bowl. Add the cilantro, lime juice, oil, chaat masala, cucumbers, and onion and use your hands or tongs to toss. Gently fold in the feta and season with salt to taste.