Last Friday a group email popped into my inbox in anticipation of a casual weekend gathering among friends. Of course I was already planning on bringing a couple items to contribute to the spread. In the message the host let everyone know that fajitas were the feature of the menu, and we were asked to come with something from a list of supporting dishes to supplement the chicken and steak main. I replied back right away that I would take care of the salad and also a dessert—salted fudge brownies are always a crowd pleaser.
Wanting to keep with the flavors of the fajitas, I made a Mexican chopped salad. Grilled cumin-spiced corn added an earthy flavor to the salad while lime vinaigrette gave it an acidic brightness subtly tempered with a touch of honey. With their varying textures and bites, orange peppers, cherry tomatoes, radishes and chopped romaine provided a refreshing and cooling crunch. A generous sprinkling of crumbly Queso Fresco finished the salad. It was the perfect evening filled with fantastic food, conversation and summer fun.
3 ears corn, shucked
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
3 scallions, sliced thinly
4 radishes, quartered and sliced thinly
1 orange pepper, diced
1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 handful cilantro, roughly chopped
2 heads romaine, chopped
6 ounces Queso Fresco cheese, crumbled
Juice of 1 lime
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon honey
1/4 cup olive oil
Preheat a gas or charcoal grill to medium heat.
Rub the corn with butter and sprinkle with cumin, salt and pepper. Wrap each ear of corn individually in aluminum foil. Grill the corn for 20-25 minutes turning occasionally, so the corn cooks evenly. Remove the corn from the foil packets and allow to cool before cutting the kernels from the cobs.
While the corn is cooling, make the dressing. In a small bowl combine the lime juice, cumin, cayenne pepper, salt, black pepper and honey. Slowly whisk in the olive oil.
To assemble the salad, combine the scallions, radishes, peppers, tomatoes, and cilantro. Add the romaine and Queso Fresco and toss with the dressing.