Recipe: Roasted corn vinaigrette warms up this spinach salad with spicy cashews

Roasted corn is fun to eat off the cob, but I have really grown to love roasted corn kernels in salads. They add just a hint of sweet, but the charred edges bring the whole salad to life.

Chris Santos loves roasted corn in salads, too, so much that he makes a corn vinaigrette by pureeing some of the roasted corn into a dressing.

To roast corn at home without firing up the grill, remove the husk and place the ear of corn under the broiler, turning occasionally, for about 8 minutes. Let cool and then cut the wide end of the corn off to give it a solid base. Stand the ear on its cut end, and, using a large knife, cut from top to bottom to remove the kernels where they meet the cob. Transfer the kernels to a bowl. Use the knife blade to scrape the corn “milk” from the cobs into the bowl for even more corn flavor. One average-size ear will yield about 3/4 cup of kernels.

Roasted corn is one of the key ingredients in this spinach salad tossed in a corn vinaigrette from Chris Santos, author of “Share: Delicious and Surprising Recipes to Pass Around Your Table.” Contributed by Quentin Bacon

Spinach Salad with Goat Cheese, Spicy Cashews and Corn Vinaigrette

Chris Santos, the chef behind NYC’s Share restaurant and a judge on the Food Network show “Chopped,” uses vegetable purees and juices in salads to create an intense depth of flavor. Pureeing the corn makes a beautiful pale yellow dressing that richly coats bright green spinach leaves. For a warm salad, toss the spinach very briefly in a large nonstick skillet with a dash of olive oil to warm the leaves before dressing, taking care not to wilt them.

Chris’s restaurants in NYC include the Stanton Social, Beauty & Essex and Vandal. Contributed by Grand Central Life & Style

For the spiced cashews:
2 tsp. unsalted butter
2 tsp. dark brown sugar
1 tsp. pure ground ancho chili
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp. five-spice powder
1/2 tsp. fine sea salt
3/4 cup roasted cashews
For the corn vinaigrette:
1/2 cup roasted corn kernels
1/4 cup vegetable stock or water
1 Tbsp. mayonnaise
2 tsp. cider vinegar
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
For the salad:
12 oz. baby spinach
1 cup roasted corn kernels
4 oz. goat cheese, frozen until firm
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

To make the cashews: Line a large rimmed baking sheet with a silicone baking mat, or butter the baking sheet well with softened butter. Melt the 2 teaspoons butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the brown sugar, ground ancho, cayenne pepper, five-spice powder and salt and stir to melt the sugar. Add the cashews and mix to coat them well. Turn the cashew mixture onto the mat and let cool completely. In batches, break up the cashews into clusters and pulse them in a food processor until coarsely chopped. (The spiced cashews can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 day.)

Meanwhile, make the vinaigrette: Puree the roasted corn kernels with the stock in a blender. Add the mayonnaise, vinegar and mustard. With the machine running, gradually add the canola oil through the hole in the blender lid and process until the vinaigrette is emulsified. Season with the salt and pepper. (Makes about 1 cup. The vinaigrette can be covered and refrigerated for up to 1 day.)

Toss the cashews, spinach and corn with the vinaigrette in a large bowl. Using a Microplane zester, grate a generous amount of cheese over the salad. Toss again and season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately. Serves 6.

— From “Share: Delicious and Surprising Recipes to Pass Around Your Table” by Chris Santos (Grand Central Life & Style, $40)

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