For a number of years, I worked at a place that closed annually at the Fourth of July for a week. And I always took that week off in search of summery escapades, often north – catching up with my oldest friend in Eugene, or a firework-powered block party in Portland, or a cozy evening with sparklers on Bainbridge island. One year I celebrated Canada Day in Vancouver on July 1st before coming back for a rodeo in Salem, Oregon on the 4th.
I don’t work there anymore, and I kind of miss that annual tradition. But I made the most of it. And I’ve already squeezed a summer’s worth of adventures into this June. But it was a grand way to kick off July.
This year I’ll be close to home, keeping it mellow on all fronts except where flavor is concerned. I’m rather enamored with the partnership of corn and red peppers right now, and scheming ways to showcase them in a bajillion different summer dishes. This one right here won out. Potato salad can always use a little reinventing, right? Plus, it’s kind of deeply American: you start with some patriotically-hued potatoes and the most American of side dishes, and then you take it to the next level with some very native corn and peppers (the potatoes, too!). I like that. Hope y’all have a grand Fourth.
GRILLED CORN AND ROASTED RED PEPPER POTATO SALAD
Yield: about 6 servings
2.5 pounds small potatoes
2 red bell peppers
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon ancho chile powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 ears sweet corn
5 green onions, rinsed and sliced
1/2 cup torn basil leaves
1/4 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
First, bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Add the potatoes and cook until just al dente, about ten minutes, and no more than fiften. Remove from heat and rinse under cool water. Drain thoroughly. Set aside.
While the potatoes are boiling, roast the red peppers directly over a low flame on your gas stove, turning regularly. You want the pepper to be totally charred – but keep an eye on it while doing so. I use the two front burners at the same time. Set aside to cool.
Turn the oven on to broil. Place both ears of corn under broiler, and cook until browned and soft, no more than ten minutes. Turn regularly, and keep an eye on them too. Set aside to cool.
Alternately, you can grill both the corn and the red peppers.
Next, remove the skin of the red peppers under cool running water. Seed and stem the peppers, and then roughly chop them. Pat the peppers dry with paper towels to remove any excess liquid.
To the bowl of a food processor, add the red peppers, yogurt, ancho chile powder, sea salt, paprika and cayenne. Pulse until a smooth paste forms.
Slice each potato in half lengthwise, or in quarters if they’re larger. Place in a large bowl. Slice the kernels of corn directly into the bowl. Add the green onions. Add the red pepper sauce to the bowl, and toss gently to combine. Finish with the fresh herbs. Best if you let it sit for a few hours to marinate before serving. Enjoy!