Grilled Corn and Zucchini Salad

An open letter to the Restaurant Industry of the New York City and Brooklyn areas,

On a recent culinary adventure at an acclaimed New York City Restaurant, I found myself staring at a gray plate of beans, wondering whether taking this dish seriously was required. My stomach was growling. The two sad, soft baby carrots, the thinly sliced overcooked snap pea, and the five white beans where staring at me, begging for forgiveness. They did not give up their life for this; they deserve all the primping and finessing those tortellinis across the table got. They deserve to be basted and fondled and cared for. They deserve so much more than this.  

I know that better than anybody else does how difficult of an eater I am. I have to deal with these food allergies on a daily basis. I chose to be a vegetarian; nobody forced me to choose vegetables. I am sorry this is annoying for your chef, but I am paying the same amount of money for this sad “dish” as the person sitting next to me is. So please, do me the favor, and serve me a plate worthy of my time. I deserve better than this, and so do my vegetables.

I know being progressive is difficult; I am here to help.

Just like I want every homecook to feel like a boss in their kitchen, I want you to prove vegetables are as delicious by treating them with as much respect as you treat those scallops, rib eyes, and tenderloins. I want you to find the freshest ingredients and sauce them right. I want you to shop seasonally and cook carefully. I don’t want your risotto, I want you to make me a cauliflower steak. I want you to make me the best salad I have ever had.

I want you to combine bold flavors with unexpected textures. I want you to smoke, and grill, an maybe even marinate your vegetables. I want everything to be well seasoned and exciting. I want you to celebrate summer, fall, winter, and spring respectively throughout the course of the year. I want your food to be uniquely yours but taste as good as this.  

And with these words, I leave you with an exquisite salad worthy of your time. Let it inspire your creativity and change your opinion. 

I want you to char your corn, mix it with grilled zucchini, fresh avocado, and a decadently rich Paprika and Saffron dressing that will make you rethink everything they taught you about vegetables in Culinary School. I want you to add some pistachios for crunch and cilantro for freshness. I want you to season is well and serve to a crowd. I want you to call it a party on a plate and be thankful this came from the soil. Be thankful this is not a Caesar salad. Be thankful it tastes so freaking good.

Grilled Corn and Zucchini Salad

Serves 4

Cook time 30-35 minutes 

For the Creamy Saffron & Paprika Dressing

  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1 tbsp. tahini
  • 1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. water
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 pinch saffron

Place paprika, tahini, apple cider vinegar, water, and olive oil in a bowl whisk until well incorporated. Add a pinch of saffron and stir once. Set aside until ready to assemble salad. Can make ahead and store in fridge in a

For the Salad

  • 4 ears corn
  • 2 zucchini
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • pinch of salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 haas or ½ florida avocado
  • ¼ cup shelled pistachios
  • 1 handful fresh cilantro or parsley

Preheat grill to hot. Chuck corn’s outer leaves and silk. Place on hot grill and cook until  for four to five minutes on each (4) sides. Corn should be golden and slightly charred after 16-20 minutes. As corn cooks, cut zucchini into 1 inch half-rounds. Place cut zucchini in a large bowl with olive oil and salt. Add to grill and cook for 6-8 minutes, turning once, until golden brown and slightly charred. I like mi zucchini with a bit of bite in the center, but feel free to cook for longer if you prefer a well-done cook.

Once vegetables are cooked, remove from grill and let cool slightly. Cut corn kernels from husk by placing corn it on its side and cutting longitudinally. Place corn kernels and zucchini in a large bowl. Add olive oil, a pinch of salt and Creamy Saffron & Paprika Dressing. Mix until evenly coated. Add thinly sliced avocados, shelled pistachios, and fresh herbs. Taste for seasoning, and add more salt if needed. Toss and serve at room temperature. Refrigerates well and keeps for a couple days.