The Chef's Take: Corn, Summer Squash and Avocado Salad from Suzanne Goin

Related To:

"Being a chef is strange," says Suzanne Goin. "Throughout service, I taste a lot of food to make sure it tastes and looks right. So, I'm not really eating for pleasure most of the time. I'm eating what I need to for my job."

Though Goin, who co-owns six Los Angeles eateries (Lucques and A.O.C. among them) and a wholesale bakery, rarely gets to eat strictly as her heart desires, sampling this sweet corn, summer squash, sliced avocado and watercress salad never feels like an occupational hazard. "I create salads that I want to eat all the time," Goin says.

Something of a Mexican succotash, this recipe, taken from her latest book, The A.O.C. Cookbook, required some thought to get just right. "It isn't as easy as wanting crunch," the chef explains. "It's about thinking, 'what ingredients play off each other?' and 'what makes you want to go back for more?' It's also really important to get the seasoning right." Here, that seasoning comes in the form of a lively chile-lime vinaigrette.

To create an irresistible salad, Goin says, you must taste, again and again, and add more acid, salt or herbs until the perfect balance is achieved. Seasoning in this manner will not only yield the best results, it will also focus the palate. The reception this dish receives will quickly reward such efforts. "Everyone loves this salad," Goin says. "And it is not only because they think it's healthy. It's because it is delicious."

Photo by: David Young-Wolff ©2013 David Young-Wolff All Rights Reserved

David Young-Wolff, 2013 David Young-Wolff All Rights Reserved

Corn, Summer Squash and Avocado with Chile-Lime Dressing

Serves 6
½ cup e xtra virgin olive oil
3 cups fresh corn (from about  4 ears)
2 teaspoons thyme leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons finely diced  shallots
2 to 3 tablespoons seeded,  diced jalapenos
¼ cup freshly squeezed lime juice  (about 2 limes)
½ pound summer squash
2 ripe avocados
¼ cup sliced spring onion
¼ cup chopped cilantro
1 bunch watercress, cleaned,  tough stems removed

Heat a large saute pan over medium heat for 2 minutes. Add 2 tablespoons  olive oil, the corn, the thyme, 1 teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper.

Saute quickly, tossing often, for about 2 minutes, until the corn is just tender.  Remove to a platter or baking sheet to cool. 

While the corn cools, make the vinaigrette. Combine the shallots, jalapenos,  lime juice and ½ teaspoon salt in a small bowl, and let sit 5 minutes.

Whisk in remaining olive oil. Taste for balance and seasoning.  Thinly slice the squash on the diagonal, preferably on a mandoline.

Cut the avocados in half lengthwise, remove the pits, and peel. Cut into ¼- inch- thick slices, and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

In a large bowl, toss the cooked corn, squash, spring onion, chopped cilantro,  salt and pepper with the chile- lime dressing. Gently toss in the watercress  and taste for seasoning.

Kitty Greenwald is a Brooklyn-based food writer and recipe developer. She eats a lot for work and pleasure. Her column Slow Food Fast appears in the Wall Street Journal.

Photo by Shimon and Tammar Rothstein

Portrait by David Young-Wolff
Keep Reading

Next Up

7 Summer Salads That Put a Fresh Spin on Corn

Rediscover the healthy side of corn with these seven summer salads that feature the grain.

Southwest Corn Recipes — Summer Fest

Whether you roast corn on the stove or set it to sizzling on the grill, you can make juicy kernels the star of main dishes with a Southwestern flair.

4 Raw Corn Recipes to Make Before Summer Ends

Raw corn is perfect for salads, salsas and topping pizzas.

Farro and Corn Salad — Meatless Monday

Get the most out of in-season corn with this fresh salad from Food Network Magazine.

6 Corn Recipes Begging for a Place at Your Summer Table

From simply grilled corn on the cob to a fun spin on salsa, get ready to find out why corn deserves the title of “Best Add-On” at your summer table.

Summer Picnic Menu

Divide and conquer your next potluck picnic with these delicious and nutritious dishes. Don’t forget the warmer weather also increases the risk of food spoilage, so be sure to keep your food safe by following our simple tips.

Market Watch: Sweet Corn

Our previous Summerfest write up on corn got my mouth watering for more of this warm weather veggie. Piles and piles can still be found at my local markets.

50 Fresh Corn Recipes

Fully loaded cobs, easy salads, corn ice cream...Find dozens of new ideas.

Alex Eats: Fresh Corn

Learn how to purchase and prepare corn with Alex Guarnaschelli's tips, from Food Network.

In Season: Corn

We could give you an earful of ideas for healthy ways to prepare fresh corn. Here are some classic dishes -- some fresh on the cob and others creamed.

On TV

Food Network Apps

In the Kitchen

Get over 70,000 FN recipes on all your mobile devices.

Facebook Messenger

Ask our bot for recipes, meal ideas and daily food trivia.

Amazon Echo

Just say "Alexa, enable Food Network skill" to get started.