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Spicy Tomato and Sweet Corn Salad

5 from 13 votes

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An Italian-inspired sweet corn salad recipe that combines fresh or frozen sweet corn kernels, red bell pepper and sharp grated pecorino and Parmesan cheeses in a simple lemon and olive oil dressing. Make this dish in less than 10 minutes and serve warm or at room temperature.

Corn salad with chopped red pepper in fresh basil leaves in a serving bowl, with serving spoons in the bowl.

Feasting on summer corn salads is right up there at the top of life’s edible pleasures. This sweet corn salad is one of the best ways to enjoy eating fresh corn off the cob. It’s one of my favorite easy salad recipes to enjoy when corn is in season. Otherwise, you can prepare it year-round using frozen or even canned corn.

The dish combines the sweet crunch of corn kernels with fresh red bell pepper, fresh herbs and grated cheeses with an olive oil and and fresh lemon juice dressing.

Something I really love about this simple recipe is that you taste so many flavors in every bite — a touch of heat from the crushed red pepper, saltiness from the cheeses, and sweetness from the corn. It’s hard to resist.

Ingredients needed for making sweet corn salad arranged on a surface, including a bowl of shucked corn, red bell pepper, chopped onion, garlic, lemon half, fresh head of garlic and a bunch of fresh parsley and basil.
Use fresh or frozen corn to make a sweet-tangy salad with onion, herbs and red pepper.

About the ingredients for summer corn salad

  • Sweet corn: This recipe is flexible — use fresh corn when it’s available or rely on the convenience of frozen corn or canned corn anytime. TIP: If you find yourself with too many fresh ears of corn when it’s in season, shuck the corn, slice the kernels of the cobs with a sharp knife and transfer to heavy duty freezer bags and freeze for up to 3 months. There’s nothing better than reaching into the freezer to find a taste of summer!
  • Red bell pepper
  • Crushed red pepper: This ingredient adds a touch of heat to balance the other flavors in the salad. You can substitute with cayenne pepper or leave it out for a milder flavor.
  • Red onion
  • Grated cheese: I enjoy mixing freshly grated pecorino Romano, which is sharp and salty, and parmesan for its nutty, buttery flavor. Other cheeses to try are aged Mexican-style cotija, fresh cubes of mozzarella or feta and ricotta salata (add fresh cheeses to the cooled corn so it doesn’t melt).
  • Scallions (green onion): With their subtle onion flavor and green tops, scallions always add a layer of texture and flavor. They’re also terrific in a summery shrimp salad recipe.
  • Fresh herbs: Use a combination of fresh basil, parsley and cilantro or just one of whatever you have on hand.
  • Fresh lemon juice: A touch of lemon juice offers a counterpoint to the natural sugars in the corn. Fresh lime juice is a perfect substitute.

Recipe steps

Variations and storage info

  • Cheese: Instead of grated cheese, use crumbled feta or fresh mozzarella. Allow the corn to cool to room temperature before adding so it doesn’t melt.
  • Tomato: Stir in about a cup of sliced tomato or cherry tomatoes.
  • Make ahead: The salad can be refrigerated in a storage container up to one day ahead of serving.
Corn salad with chopped red pepper in fresh basil leaves in a serving bowl, with serving spoons in the bowl.

Spicy Tomato and Sweet Corn Salad

Karen Tedesco
An Italian-inspired sweet corn salad recipe that combines fresh, canned or frozen sweet corn kernels, red bell pepper and sharp grated pecorino and Parmesan cheeses in a simple lemon and olive oil dressing. Make this dish in about 20 minutes, and serve warm or at room temperature.
Print Pin
5 from 13 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 20 minutes
Course Salad
Cuisine Vegetarian
Servings 4 servings

Ingredients

  • ¼ cup (45 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup chopped red onion
  • 1 pound (450 g) corn kernels, fresh or frozen
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper, or to taste
  • 3 scallions, white and light green parts thinly sliced
  • cup (35 g) grated pecorino Romano cheese, or a half-and-half mixture of of pecorino and grated parmesan
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, or mild white vinegar, such as rice vinegar
  • ½ cup (30 g) fresh basil, cilantro or Italian parsley, torn or roughly chopped

Instructions 

  • Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion. Cook and stir until softened, 2-3 minutes.
  • Stir in the corn and ½ teaspoon salt. Turn the heat to medium-high and cook the corn about 5 minutes, or until some of the kernels begin to brown. Add the bell pepper, garlic, and red pepper and heat about 30 seconds to release the aroma of the garlic.
  • Take the pan off the heat and stir in the herbs, scallions, cheese, lemon juice and remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Transfer the salad to a serving bowl. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Karen’s Notes and Tips

  • If using fresh corn, you’ll need 5-6 ears to get one pound of shucked corn.
  • To use canned corn, drain it throughly before starting the recipe.
  • Fresh lime juice can be substituted for lemon juice.
  • Cheese: Instead of grated cheese, use cotija, crumbled feta or cubes of fresh mozzarella. Be sure to allow the corn to cool to room temperature before adding so the cheese doesn’t melt.
  • Make ahead: The salad can be refrigerated in a storage container up to one day ahead of serving.
  • Tomato: Stir in about a cup of sliced tomato or cherry tomatoes.

Nutrition

Calories: 252kcal | Carbohydrates: 22g | Protein: 6g | Fat: 17g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Sodium: 535mg | Potassium: 331mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 1814IU | Vitamin C: 56mg | Calcium: 119mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition facts are calculated by third-party software. If you have specific dietary needs, please refer to your favorite calculator.

Did you make this recipe? Mention @Familystylefood or tag #familystylefood on Instagram

Hey, I’m Karen

Creator of Familystyle Food

I’m a food obsessed super-taster and professionally trained cook ALL about creating elevated dinners with everyday ingredients. Find simplified recipes made from scratch and enjoy incredibly tasty food! Read more about me here.

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5 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    This is so good, I made it twice in a week. I used cilantro and lemon juice. I started with the 2T of oil and added the rest when I added the corn since the recipe called for 1/4 cup. Thank you for sharing this wonderful recipe:)

  2. Does the corn get taken off the cob raw or cooked?

  3. 5 stars
    this looks so good! i am going to have to try it. XO
    Liza