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Barbecue season may have passed, but all grilling – outdoor or indoor – imparts an addictive smokiness to food. Today’s Turkish salad uses the initial energy of the flames; I love tumbling veg on to a barbecue (or griddle pan), where the high heat cooks them quickly, which helps keep them juicy. And just about everyone loves elotes, a Mexican street food of grilled and dressed sweetcorn. Mind you, everything is better cooked over fire or scorched.
Grilled elotes (pictured top)
Cooking corn with the husks on helps the kernels to steam internally while grilling, so they stay juicy, but still get a good, smoky flavour. To check if they’re done, carefully peel back one of the husks and cut a couple of kernels free with a small knife; if they’re not yet soft, simply cook the corn for a bit longer.
Prep 10 min
Soak 1 hr
Cook 20 min
Serves 6, as a starter or a side
6 sweetcorn cobs, preferably with husks on
150g parmesan, finely grated, or blitzed in food processor
1 tbsp smoked paprika
Sea salt flakes, to taste
2 limes, zested, then cut into sections
1 handful fresh coriander, leaves picked, stalks finely diced
If you’re using corn with husks, submerge them in cold water for an hour before you start cooking (this will stop the husks burning or drying out while grilling). Otherwise, brush each cob all over with a tablespoon of oil.
Grill the corn with husks evenly, turning them regularly, for 15-20 minutes (if you’re using corn without husks, keep them moving to make sure they don’t overcook; they will be ready much quicker than those with husks). If you don’t have a barbecue, a plancha, griddle pan or cast-iron skillet will also work.
Meanwhile, mix the cheese, paprika, a good pinch of salt, lime zest and coriander stalks, and scatter evenly on a large plate.
Once the corn cobs are ready, peel back the husks and twist them to fashion a makeshift handle. Brush each one evenly with a tablespoon of mayonnaise, then roll them in the cheese mix. Arrange on a serving plate and garnish with the coriander leaves and lime. If you want the corn to be more of a side dish, cut them into sections before plating.
Grilled Turkish salad
A brilliant, chunky, spicy salad to go with any grill offering. Adjust the chilli to your taste, or, once the chilli is grilled, finely mince it and serve on the side for people to add their own.
Prep 10 min
Cook 30 min
3 red onions, peeled and cut across the equator
4 peppers – a mixture of colours, ideally
1-2 red chillies
15g parsley leaves, roughly chopped
2 tbsp pomegranate molasses
3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Sea salt flakes
Put the peppers, onions (cut side down), chillies and tomatoes on a barbecue or griddle pan. (Depending on the size of your tomatoes, and the width of the gaps in the grill grate, use your judgment as to whether it would be wise to cook them in a cast-iron pan.)
Cook the peppers and chillies, turning them periodically, for 15-25 minutes. Once the flesh is soft and the skins are charred and blackened, transfer to a bowl and cover with a plate, so the skins steam free of the flesh.
When the onions are well charred on their cut sides, turn them over and do the same on the other side. Once done, peel off and discard any excessively black layers, then quarter the onions and put in a bowl with the parsley, molasses and oil.
Finely chop the skinned chilli, with or without seeds, as you prefer, and add to the onion bowl. Once the tomatoes are collapsing, roughly chop them into decent chunks and add to the onion mix.
Remove the stalks, pith and most of the seeds from the peppers, then peel away as much of the skin as you can (some remaining isn’t a problem, and the same goes for the seeds). Cut the peeled peppers into rough quarters, then cut in half again across the centre and add to the onion mix. Season with a generous pinch of salt, mix and taste, adding more salt or molasses as needed.