This is another one of those uncommon ‘salads’.
A sweet corn and toasted coconut salad forged from childhood food memories.
Roasted corn on the cob is sold on street corners all over Ghana, and I suspect in other parts of West Africa too.
It’s a delicious street-food snack, it’s cheap, portable and satisfying; everyone loves it and it tides you over until you can get to real food.
The corn is roasted over open fire and dipped in salted water when done, and often times eaten with a piece of coconut.
It turns out my penchant for putting corn and coconut together goes way back…
When I was little, we lived in the outskirts of the city; a few miles away on the main road, was a remote police checkpoint we called the Barrier.
That barrier and the little hub of commercial activity that had grown along the bumpy roadside was our connection to the rest of the world.
Along with the noise, I remember the smell of corn roasting, which almost smells like popcorn, and that is strangely one of my first memories of food.
Coconut and corn takes me to a simpler time and place, one that is rooted in comfort.
I use fresh corn in the summer when I make this. I sauté it in butter and red pepper flakes, and then add a generous sprinkling of large flakes of toasted coconuts.
This winter version is good too. I tend to accumulate bags of frozen sweet corn and this is the most delicious way to use them up quickly.
Plus, I love bright, colourful nourishing foods. I find them particularly cheerful during these cold grey months.
This salad is sweet, nutty and slightly tart from a splash of lemon juice. I dress it with olive oil and balsamic vinegar and scoop it up like salsa with large chunks of homemade pita bread.
I don’t really remember the taste of the corn and coconut from my childhood, but this meal takes me back every time, to that dusty road in the middle of nowhere – which my mom likes to remind me, is a bustling highway now.
- 1 1/2 cups large coconut chips or flakes, plus more for garnish
- 4 – 5 cups frozen sweet corn
- 1/2 small red onion, sliced
- 3 tablespoons oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained of oil and chopped
- 2 tablespoons chopped rosemary
- 2 – 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon flaked sea salt, to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper
- More olive oil and balsamic vinegar to serve
- Spread coconut chips in a thin layer on a baking sheet.
- Bake at 300 degrees F. for 15 - 20 minutes; stir every 5 minutes to ensure that the coconut browns evenly. Or, spread coconut chips into a skillet and toast on stovetop over medium heat; stir frequently until coconut is mostly golden brown.
- To cook frozen corn; bring about 1/4 cup salted water to boil in a saucepan over medium high heat
- Add corn and stir gently, cook until it starts to boil again, turn the heat down and let it simmer for a minute, strain and set aside. Or sprinkle a pinch of salt over frozen corn in a bowl and cook on high in a microwave for about 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile combine onion, sun-dried tomatoes and rosemary in a large bowl
- Add sweet corn and toasted coconut and mix
- Pour olive oil and lemon juice over corn mixture, add salt and toss to combine
- Taste and check seasoning and add more salt or lemon juice to taste if desired
- Serve topped with more toasted coconut chips, add freshly ground pepper and a drizzle of olive oil and balsamic vinegar
- If you’re making this in the summer, feel free to use shucked 5 – 6 ears of fresh corn