Virginia Willis Blog

What’s in Season: Grilled Corn Tabouleh

Corn Tabouleh on
Corn is Summer

Corn is one of the premier vegetables of summer all across the United States. Long hot Southern summers produce delicious corn, but some of the best corn I ever had in my life was from New Jersey! The farmer had a stand on the side of the road in front of his cornfield. He would ask how many ears you wanted, and march back into the green, rustling stalks to pick your order. Freshness is important, since the moment corn is picked, the sugars begin converting into starch.

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How to Pick Corn

My grandfather always preferred to plant his corn patch in the fruitful black soil at the river’s edge. He taught me that when corn is ripe and ready to be picked, the silk at the top of the ear should be dark brown, almost black. It is not unusual to see people peeling back the husks in search of ears with perfect rows of kernels. The truth is, perfect rows of kernels don’t really matter all that much. Just take a peek to make sure the ear is plump, full, and free of worms, but keep the husk on to keep the corn moist and sweet.

The silks play a role in corn biology. Did you know that each strand of silk on an ear of corn represents a kernel of corn — but only if pollen falls on the silk! Otherwise, a kernel does not develop. A corn plant produces corn silk surrounding each ear about two months after the plant emerges from the ground. Tassels, the male part of the plant, emerge at its top and shed pollen for a week or two, fertilizing the individual silk strands below. Pollination occurs when the falling or wind-borne pollen grains are caught by these new moist silk strands. A captured pollen grain takes about 24 hours to move down the silk to the ovule, where fertilization occurs. The fertilized ovule then develops into a kernel.


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How to Cut Corn off the Cob

When corn is just coming into season it doesn’t have as much flavor as it does at peak season. During peak corn season it’s enough to simply boil it and eat it plain — even butter is optional! However, I do like to mix things up a bit and char it on the grill (or grill pan) and serve with compound butters or char it and use it in a corn salad or salsa. To cut corn off the cob, many cooks suggest to place the ear of corn vertical to the cutting board and using a knife to remove the kernels.  I find that holding the corn straight up causes the kernels to scatter all over the place. Instead, place the ear of corn horizontal on the cutting board. Use a chef’s knife and slice the corn from the cob. The kernels fall a shorter distance to the cutting board and are less likely to scatter.
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Summer Sides

As summer has heated up, I’ve found myself cooking more and more Mediterranean and Middle Eastern recipes. They are both perfect cuisines for hotter months. One thing led to another with a half-dozen ears of early corn and I came up with this recipe Grilled Corn Tabouleh. Tabouleh is a Middle Eastern grain salad that most often uses cracked wheat or bulgur. We really like this version made with fresh grilled corn and hope you do, too. Let me know what you think!

Bon Appétit, Y’all!

Virginia Willis

 Corn Tabouleh on

Print Recipe Psst — click here – I’m having a bit of trouble with the print icon on the recipe template.

Corn Tabouleh on

Grilled Corn Tabouleh

Appetizer, Salad, Side Dish
Cuisine American, Mediterranean, Southern
Prep Time 10 minutes
10 minutes
20 minutes
Servings 6
Author virginiawillis


  • 6 ears corn shucked and silks removed
  • 1/4 jalapeno very finely chopped, or to taste
  • 1 clove garlic grated on a microplane or very finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup freshly picked flat leaf parsley leaves
  • 2 tablespoons freshly chopped mint
  • 1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper or red pepper flakes or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Juice of 1/4 lemon
  • Fleur de sel or best quality sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Heat a grill pan to very high heat. Add the corn and cook until tender and lightly charred on all sides, about 8 minutes. Remove the corn from the cob and transfer to a bowl. Add the jalapeno, garlic, parsley, mint, pepper, coriander, lemon zest, and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Photography: Corn with silks by Jona Willis. Grilled Corn Tabouleh by Virginia Willis 

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Copyright © 2017 Virginia Willis Culinary Enterprises, Inc.

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4 Responses to “What’s in Season: Grilled Corn Tabouleh”

  1. Jayson in Oklahoma

    This looks delicious. Nothing like fresh corn. It seems like such a race to use all the fresh corn you can why it’s available in peak season. After that, is usually isn’t fit to eat unless you put it up and freeze it yourself. My Dad and my Grandparents, would spend a day putting up the corn after it was picked. Some they just freeze in the husk! Most of it was cut off the cob, then the cob was scraped to get all the pulp and milk. After that it was cooked on the stove for a little bit with just a little water added. Then it was cooled and packed in freezer containers. My grandmother would use that throughout the year to make the most delicious cream style corn.


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