(Note: this post was originally published on May 26, 2019 and the photos were updated on April 30, 2020. The date above reflects migration to the new platform.)
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.
I've made many versions of this salad over the years; it's a 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. Simply put, this salad is all of my greatest loves, united in one place.
After making many versions of this salad over the years, I've developed quite a few variations. I've made it with quinoa, which is delicious and heartier. I sometimes use 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.
Especially 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 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. It only takes a couple extra minutes and yields the most wonderful, complex flavors! But if you're really crunched for time, you could omit the cumin entirely and just make a dressing from olive oil, lime juice, and honey. Or, add a bit of freshly-grated ginger instead, it's wonderful and quicker than dealing with the cumin seeds.
Want to prep this salad in advance? Go for it! You can do at least some of the work ahead of time, as long as you save the final plating for just before serving.
If you want to go that route, you can grill the corn and onion up to a day before, and mix up the dressing too. Keep everything in the fridge in sealed containers. You could even cut up the strawberries and clean your greens, if you really want to be on top of things. When you're ready to serve, just toss everything together and you're good to go.
Just be careful about combining everything, since the strawberries, cilantro, and pepitas will start to get soggy and the avocado will brown. I don't suggest combining all of the ingredients together until just before you serve it. If you must, it's probably fine for a couple hours, but in that case I'd brush the avocado in some lime juice to thwart browning.
Here's what you'll need for this recipe, as well as some thoughts, tips, and possible substitutions. If you make any substitutions, I'd love to hear about it in the comments section below.
Isn't this such a fun salad for a summer get-together? I love that it can be different things to different people, and it's easy to switch up the ingredients to get different flavor profiles. I also love its colors; it's so vibrant with the red strawberries, yellow corn, green kale, and purple onion! Everything about this salad makes me think about warm summer evenings and parties on the deck.
Even though this is a simple combination of ingredients, something about it is just so special. The juicy berries, hearty corn, creamy avocado, and crunchy pepitas really bring out the best in one another. In case you haven't noticed yet, I'm a big believer in the importance of having a variety of different textures in a salad, and this one is a great example.
I'll be serving this on the deck all summer... with lots of tortilla chips, of course!
It makes me so happy to hear from you and see your creations! Please leave a comment below and let me know what you think about this recipe. If you post a photo on Instagram, hashtag #TheRogueBrusselSprout and tag me (@TheRogueBrusselSprout) in the post text so that I'm sure to see it.
This salad is summer on a plate! Loaded with sweet corn, juicy strawberries, and creamy avocado, it's the perfect accompaniment to any summer meal.