Roasted Corn, Strawberry, and Avocado Potluck Salad

Meet your new best friend for summer BBQs and picnics: this colorful salad with roasty corn, sweet strawberries, succulent grilled red onion, creamy avocado, and a zippy lime vinaigrette.

In a potluck setting where everyone builds their own plates, having a versatile dish is really important. This salad is hearty enough to star as a main dish for those who don't eat meat. It can act as a salsa and be scooped up with chips. It can happily sit alongside or garnish a burger. It can be a side dish, and would get along well with other summery side dishes.

Basically, it's your best bet when you have no idea what other dishes will show up and how they'll go together.

I've made many versions of this salad over the years; it's my go-to for hosting friends on our deck or for going to a picnic at the beach. I love that it can be nicely plated for a deck party, or shoved into a tupperware for a hiking picnic.

This one has all of my favorite summer flavors, with a Mexican-inspired vibe. Grilled corn and strawberries both scream summer, and grilling the corn gives it such lovely flavor. Grilled red onions make it feel perfectly suited to a BBQ, and avocado provides lovely richness.

I like to toast whole cumin seeds in some olive oil, then use that oil for the dressing- it makes a great flavor punch, especially when combined with lime juice and a bit of honey or agave for sweetness. Garnish it up with toasted pepitas and fresh cilantro, serve it with some chips and extra lime wedges, and you have yourself a wonderful combination of textures and flavors.

After making many versions of this salad over the years, I've developed some variations. I've made it with quinoa, which is delicious and heartier. I sometimes use romaine (especially grilled romaine!) instead of baby kale. I've also done a version that incorporates sugar snap peas (so fresh!) and one with goat cheese (so creamy- see the photo below). Any way you spin it, this salad is definitely a crowd pleaser.

One final thought. If you want to prep this salad in advance, you can easily make the dressing, grill the corn and onion, and toss it all together. Just wait to add the greens, avocado, strawberry, and garnishes until you serve it.

I'll be serving this on the deck all summer... with lots of tortilla chips, of course!

Please share your creation so I can see how you've interpreted the concept! Tag "The Rogue Brussel Sprout" on Facebook or hashtag #theroguebrusselsprout on Instagram.

I love versatile salads like this that can be a main course, a side, or a salsa. This Super Fresh Thai Cabbage Salad is similar, and so summery.

Thoughts About Ingredients
(These are all just suggestions, since rogue is more fun than recipe)
For the Salad
  • A few cups of roasted corn. In season, it's wonderful to roast or grill full cobs and cut the kernels off. Out of season, I usually grill frozen corn on my indoor grill pan. For maximum ease, Trader Joe's sells frozen corn that's already roasted.
  • Half a red onion, diced. I always grill it, since I find raw onion way to assertive. It only takes a few minutes on an indoor grill pan, and the onion stays nice and moist.
  • A cup or so of strawberries
  • One or two avocados
  • Handful of finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • Greens. Optional, probably not ideal for an outside event on a hot day, but they provide a pretty bed and make the salad feel a little more meal-like. I've shown baby kale here; arugula or frisee would also be nice. Grilled romaine is divine.
  • Feta or goat cheese, optional
  • Handful of pepitas. Aka pumpkin seeds, I like roasted and salted. 
For the Dressing
  • Subtly-flavored olive oil (start with 1-3 tbsp). I prefer really low-oil salad dressings because I love the bite of the citrus or vinegar, but use whatever your preferences dictate. You'll use the oil to toast the cumin seeds.
  • 1-1.5 tbsp cumin seeds
  • Juice of a lime or two
  • Honey (start with 1 tbsp). If you're fully plant-based, I think agave would be the best substitution since it has a subtle flavor and is a natural pairing with lime and avocado.
  • Few grinds of black pepper
  • Salt
Thoughts About Method
(These are all just suggestions, be creative and make it yours)
  1. Grill your corn and onion, then put them in a sealed container (so they don't dry out) in the fridge. You'll need to let them cool completely, otherwise your other ingredients will wilt. This could be done as early as the day before.
  2. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a skillet. Add the cumin seeds and toast them for a couple minutes until they smell fragrant and just barely start to brown. Transfer the seeds and oil to a large mixing bowl so that the seeds stop cooking. Allow the oil to cool for a few minutes.
  3. To the cumin oil, add lime juice, honey (or agave), salt, and pepper. If the honey is solid rather than runny, warm it up for 15 seconds in the microwave first to help it assimilate into the dressing. Give the dressing a good whisk to bring everything together.
  4. To the dressing, add the heartier ingredients (grilled corn, grilled red onion) and give everything a good mix. Taste, adjust, and mix again. If you think it needs more brightness, add more lime and/or salt (a dash of rice wine vinegar would work too, if you're out of limes). If you want more sweetness, add a bit of additional honey.
  5. (If your salad will be sitting out for a while, bathe your avocado pieces in some lime juice. This should prevent browning for a couple hours).
  6. Add the more delicate ingredients (strawberries and avocado) and give everything a very gentle mix. No one likes mushy strawberries!
  7. Plate the salad on some greens if you want, or skip the greens to facilitate transport and minimize wilting. Garnish with pepitas, more fresh cilantro, feta or goat cheese if using, and a few pretty strawberry and avocado slices.


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