Corn and Avocado Salad with Quick Pickled Onions

Corn Salad with Avocado

Friends often think that because I cook professionally, my food always comes out just right. Not so. Case in point is today’s dish. It wasn’t supposed to be a corn salad at all. I had planned to share a homey corn pudding from my husband’s family. But I got too aggressive with my tinkering, knocking out all of the cream and replacing it with milk, changing the method entirely, and using a large cast iron skillet in place of the baking dish dictated by the recipe.

I had a bad feeling about my version from the get go. And that was before I dropped the entire pan when I pulled it from the oven (said cast iron skillet was too heavy). My dinner sizzled on the open oven door looking more like poorly executed scrambled eggs than any corn pudding I’ve ever seen. I’m still finding corn kernels in the crevices of my range.

With summer corn still on the brain, I turned my attention to something a little more in my comfort zone: salad. This Corn and Avocado Salad with Quick Pickled Onions is my take on a dish that’s been cropping up all summer long: in food magazines, on restaurant menus, and most recently, at a friend’s catered party. Putting summer’s sweet corn and tender, ripe avocados together is a no-brainer. Including pickled red onions, one of my favorite homemade condiments, is what sets this salad apart.

Corn Salad with Avocado I know, I know, pickling has a lot of you running scared with visions of great aunties and grandmothers hovered over bubbling cauldrons and Ball Jars lined up across the kitchen counter. But this is not your grandma’s canning. It’s a quick and dirty, one minute pickling job that takes the bite out of the onion, infusing it with a touch of sweetness. The only skill required is a teensy bit of patience for the magic of vinegar and sugar and salt to do its work. After making it once, it’s a handy addition to your cooking repertoire that can brighten any number of summer favorites: on hamburgers, alongside barbecued pork tenderloin, and chopped into potato salads.

The starchiness of the corn and the richness of the avocado make this a particularly satisfying salad. It can hold its own as alongside grilled meat, fish or poultry. Feel free to swap out the cilantro for fresh basil if you like.

As for the corn pudding, I’ll probably get back to it one of these days. Maybe I’ll have recovered from my cooking debacle by the time corn is good and sweet again next summer.

Side note: if you need some pointers on cutting corn from a cob, head on over here and for another summery side, you might like this Mexican Street Corn Salad  or this BLT Potato Salad. 

Corn Salad with Avocado

Corn and Avocado Salad with Quick Pickled Onions

This summery salad is best made and served the same day, since avocado doesn't hold up well overnight. That said, if you do have leftover salad, it makes a terrific filling for vegetarian tacos. Melt Cheddar or Jack cheese on corn tortillas, top with corn salad and warm black beans, and serve with salsa on the side. Scrumptious.
Course Vegetable Side
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Calories 105 kcal
Author katiemorford

Ingredients

  • 4 ears corn on the cob, shucked, silks removed
  • 1/3 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • ½ medium red onion, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 ½ ripe avocados

Instructions

  1. Cook the corn on the cob using your preferred method until just tender. I’m partial to steaming it over high heat in about 1 inch of water in a large, covered pot. I usually move the corn around in the pot once during cooking and check for doneness by popping a kernel off of the cob using a butter knife and tasting it. Corn takes about 5 to 7 minutes to steam.

  2. While the corn is cooking, make the pickled onions. Mix together the vinegar, sugar, and 1 teaspoon of the salt in a small bowl, stirring until the solids dissolve. Add the onion slices and submerge completely in the vinegar. Let that stand for at least 20 minutes.

  3. When the corn is cooked and cool enough to handle, cut the kernels off of the cobs. If you don’t have a particularly sharp knife, a serrated edge one can work well here.
  4. Put the corn in a medium bowl. Scoop the pickled onions out of the vinegar, allowing the vinegar to drip off of them, and add the onions to the corn. Add two tablespoons of the pickling vinegar to the corn. Discard the remaining vinegar or save it to use in another salad dressing.
  5. Add the remaining ¾ teaspoon of salt, cilantro, and olive oil. Mix well. Cut the avocados into cubes and add to the salad. Stir gently and serve.

Comments

08.18.2011 at 12:23 PM #

Anne Mullen

Though I’m many years past making school lunches (thank heaven), I love reading your posts, and love several of the recipes. It would be great if there were a way to click on some icon so one could print just the recipe. Though all the other information is interesting, today’s corn salad was 9 pages long. Thanks for all the good advice and information.

08.18.2011 at 12:23 PM #

katiemorford

That’s a good question. I will look into that and see if there’s a simple “print” function I can add. In the meantime, I will move the photos around within the recipe so that it isn’t so long and broken up with the pictures. Hope that helps. Katie

08.18.2011 at 12:52 PM #

Erin

Katie I absolutely LOVE your blog! I have enjoyed so many of your recipes and look forward to all of your posts. Thanks so much for all the work you put into this. I can’t wait to try this corn, avocado and pickled onion salad…perfect for these hot summer nights when you just want a light, healthy and tasty dinner!

08.18.2011 at 12:52 PM #

katiemorford

Thank you Erin! That is so sweet and much appreciated. x, Katie

08.22.2011 at 9:59 AM #

Libby

Katie,
I just stumbled on your website last week, and I have already made 2 of the recipes you have posted! My family LOVED buttery Eggs on Saturday morning, and this salad as well. Thank you for providing moms like me who feed our kids with the “whole foods” attitude with new recipes and ideas.

Libby

08.22.2011 at 9:59 AM #

katiemorford

Thanks for sharing that Libby. Welcome to MKH!

08.22.2011 at 8:44 PM #

Missy

Katie,

I decided to make the corn salad for a last minute bbq we were invited to. To be honest Artie actually made it after I gave him the recipe from your site–and it was easy (even pickling the onion) and so delicious! Everyone at the party loved it. I will be making it again for sure!! Thanks for the recipe!

08.23.2011 at 8:06 AM #

Suzanne

Super yummy and amazing salad! Not being the most confident cook, I was in a panic because I had every kind of vinegar except white wine – I used a mix of white distilled and red wine and it was delicious! And now I have pickled onions – thanks you, Katie!!!!!

08.23.2011 at 8:06 AM #

katiemorford

Good improvising. While the recipe specifies white wine vinegar, most vinegars will do if you need to make a substitution, although I’d probably avoid using rice wine vinegar or a particularly jammy balsamic.

08.25.2011 at 11:50 AM #

Lori

Love, Love, Love this corn salad!! Thanks for the recipe!!

08.31.2011 at 6:48 PM #

charlotte

Katie, we just made this as a side dish and it was a HUGE hit! The pickled onions were such a treat. Thanks!

09.02.2011 at 1:23 PM #

Leslie

I also LOVE,LOVE,LOVE your blog and recipes..your friend Alison turned me on to you!! I am ever so grateful to her. I just found organic corn at Buffalo Whole Foods and am going to make the salad today..The choc. cake was fabulous. Thank you!

11.13.2012 at 8:08 AM #

Melanie

My kids absolutely LOVE this recipe. I feel like a gourmet cook whenever I prepare it, it tastes that good. Thank you for sharing and your lovely insights as well. It is hard to raise children with healthy eating habits in our fast paced fast food world. Thank you again!

11.13.2012 at 8:08 AM #

katiemorford

Thanks Melanie…always nice to feel like a gourmet cook!

07.09.2014 at 11:19 AM #

FlaviaS

Thanks for this tasty summer recipe! I made it the other day and it turned out great. I’m going to try it next time with organic apple cider vinegar, as I always have plenty of it on hand.

07.09.2014 at 11:19 AM #

katiemorford

So glad! It’s definitely a recipe that can be tinkered with, so apple cider vinegar would be great. Thanks for the comment. I love the feedback.

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