Did your neighborhood participate in National Night Out on August 1st? National Night Out happens across the U.S. and is intended to bring neighbors together and promote relationships with local fire and police. Our own had a block party, it was easy to block the street since we live on a cul-de-sac. We roped off the street at 6 pm and let the kids roller skate and play basketball. It was a wonderful party, a chance to catch up with our neighbors, share some good food and wine. Our elected officials, local police and firemen took the opportunity to come around to introduce themselves and update us on civic events and trainings.
My contribution to the party was this vegetarian pasta salad. This is a perfect make ahead salad for warm days, I was able to make it in the cool of the morning and let the flavors mingle. Leftovers were even better for lunch the next day. There is no mayonnaise so you don’t have to worry about spoilage. It would be a great side for a summer BBQ.
Why do I call it corn cob pasta salad? Because the first step is to make a “broth” from the leftover cobs. I’ve read about this technique when making corn chowders, the cobs (once the kernels are removed) flavor the stock and give an extra flavor boost to the soup. Start by cooking the ears of corn in boiling water, then remove them after 4 or 5 minutes (when the corn is cooked to your liking), cut the kernels from the cobs, and return the ’empty’ cobs to the boiling water for another 30 minutes. The result is a mild corn flavored broth in which you cook the pasta. A corny stock.
You could use any shape of pasta, I used rotelle (wagon wheels) because I thought it would be fun for the kids and easy to eat off a paper plate.
Once the pasta is cooked and drained, I mixed it with the corn kernels, halved cherry tomatoes, chopped red onion, black beans, halved pitted black olives, shredded mozzarella, and lots of chopped parsley. The seasonings are light and simple, some red pepper, salt, vinegar, and olive oil. Since there is no mayonnaise, you don’t have to worry about food poisoning if it sits out for a couple of hours on a picnic table.
This makes a lot of salad, suitable for sharing at a large gathering for a 8 – 12. You could add fresh spinach to stretch it even further.
- 4 ears of fresh corn, cleaned
- 1 lb box of dried pasta, your choice of shape
- 1 pint of cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1/2 large red onion, chopped
- 12 black olives, halved or sliced
- 2 cups of shredded mozzarella
- 1 bunch of fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
- 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil
- 3-4 tablespoons of red wine vinegar depending on strength
- Pinch red pepper flakes
- Kosher salt to taste
- Freshly ground pepper
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil.
- Add the corn to the pot, turn down the heat when it comes back to a boil and simmer for 3-4 minutes until it is cooked to your liking.
- Use tongs or another utensil to remove the corn from the pot.
- Cool the corn until you can handle it and cut the kernels from the cob, reserve.
- Salt the boiling water well and add the cobs back to the pot, simmer for 30 minutes on low heat.
- Remove the cobs from the water and skim any silk that might be floating in your corn broth. Bring the water back to the boil.
- Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook as per the package directions.
- Meanwhile combine the corn kernels, tomatoes, drained black beans, red onion, and olives in a large bowl.
- Drain the cooked pasta, cool slightly (don’t rinse, I add a tablespoon of olive oil to keep it from sticking together) and add to the bowl with the other ingredients and add the pinch of red pepper.
- Add the olive oil and vinegar, toss together, taste for salt.
- Mix in the chopped parsley and mozzarella once completely cool.
- Taste again and add any additional seasonings that might be needed.
Also nice in the salad would be chopped red or orange pepper, I actually forgot to add them but think the pepper would be a flavorful and colorful addition. Finely minced garlic would also be good if you are serving only adults. What about hominy? Then it would be a triple corn salad…broth, fresh kernels, and hominy. This recipe is only a basic template for a world of flavors and your imagination.