Retro Recipe: Sally’s Corn Salad

Staci Strauss

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Summer is a busy time, and when my Grandma Sally was cooking for a crowd, her corn salad was on the menu at every hot Texas summer BBQ we had when I was a kid.

Today it’s no different–we will be going to a dear friend’s wedding in the city this weekend, returning Sunday, then cooking for 12 at lunch Monday (whew!)

We will welcome our beloved French-American family with Zak Pelaccio’s Brisket and naturally, Sally’s Corn Salad.

I cannot wait to clink glasses once again, and hear dear Sarah say, “Bon App!” At my table no less! Quelle chance!

Do you need an idea for a simple summer dish with ingredients you most likely have on hand?

This one is fast and delicious–it is especially fast if you don’t make your own mayo–I do because I’m a fan of process–and I love mayo made simply with olive oil and egg yolks.

My corn salad recipe is inspired by the one my Grandma Sally made for Sunday lunch when we were growing up, it’s the one my Mom still makes when we gather–it’s truly a crowd favorite! (Just ask anyone I went to high school with.) We were all together at the end of last summer, and I heard three different people exclaim ‘look, it’s Sally’s corn salad’!

Our traditional family recipe calls for Jolly Green Giant White Shoe-Peg Corn and Miracle Whip, but this weekend, I decided to make it a little differently. I used fresh, local non-GMO corn, local organic cherry tomatoes from the farmer’s market, red peppers from our CSA and  organic scallions from our market here in Woodstock. You gotta shop around! I make the mayo with eggs from a neighbor and  extra-virgin olive oil and  sea salt from the south of France.

As you can see, I’m not a purist. I do the best I can to buy local, organic ingredients, but not at the expense of flavor! The greatest thing about this kind of traditional family recipe is the memories it evokes. As I tasted this latest batch of corn salad, the memories of many summers past flooded my mind. Hot, Texas summer days when we were young and our biggest worry was getting an even tan. And waiting for lunch to be ready.

Sally's Corn Salad

12 ears non-GMO corn, raw, off the cob

1 pint of  organic cherry tomatoes, halved

1 bunch organic scallions

chopped finely 1 organic red pepper, diced

Homemade Mayo for Corn Salad

2 egg yolks

3/4-1 cup extra virgin olive oil

a little water, if needed

1 tsp sea salt, more to taste

1 tsp fresh ground pepper

1/2 tsp Colman’s Dry Mustard Powder

juice of half a lemon


To make the mayo, breathe deeply! It can be frustrating, I find the best way to do it is a little at a time.

Mix yolks with whisk, then add olive oil drop by drop until the eggs and oil combine–about an eighth of a cup or less is all you have to do at one drop at a time.

Once the consistency is thick, I simply cover the mixture with the thinnest layer of the remaining oil at a time, and leave it to absorb while I chop my veggies.

As each layer absorbs, I whisk it lightly, then cover it again, leave it alone for a few minutes, while I chop some more.

Repeat this process of covering, leaving alone, whisking, until all the oil is combined with the egg yolks.

If the mixture becomes to thick, I add a splash of water during the process.

Once you have your mayo, add the salt, pepper, lemon juice and mustard powder, and mix well. The texture will be more of a dressing and less of a spread.

Toss corn, tomatoes, red pepper and scallions together with the mayo. Enjoy!

Does your family have a favorite corn salad recipe? Is there a secret ingredient?

Photo credit: Staci Strauss

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