You probably have enjoyed grilled corn; you may or may not have tasted a grilled fresh fig. I’m almost sure, however, that you have never had them together in one dish. But when late summer brings them to market at the same time, I hope you will try this recipe. It’s a simple one to do ahead: you grill the corn on the cob and then grill the figs (they take barely a minute). You slice off the corn kernels, toss them with the figs, and serve the dish at room temperature.
The golden vegetable and dark fruit are a great-tasting and pretty combination just as they are, but if you happen to have some balsamic drizzling sauce already made (or a bottle of balsamic vinegar to reduce), it’s definitely worth applying the final swirl of sauce. The acidic tang sets off the sweetness of all the sugars in the corn and figs, already intensified by the heat of the grill. You can use either a gas or a charcoal grill for this, but keep the fire moderate (and pay attention, especially with the figs) so the sugars are caramelized, not burned.
Clean a grill rack very well. If using a gas grill, heat over medium heat. If using a charcoal grill, ignite and spread a bed of coals in a low layer that will cook all the ears of corn over moderate — not searing — heat. (If you can, adjust the height of the rack, too, to avoid burning the corn.)
Put the corn in a big bowl or on a tray, coat with the olive oil, and season with ½ teaspoon of the salt all over. Roll them around and rub them with your hands so they’re well coated.
Lay the ears of corn on the grill, and cook them, turning frequently, until the ears are nicely grill-marked and the kernels are tender, for 7 minutes or more. (Don’t burn them and do shift them around the grill so they cook evenly.) Let cool.
Wipe off the rack, if necessary, and have it hot so the figs don’t stick. Set the fig halves on the rack, cut side down, and cook them only to caramelize the cut side and soften the flesh, for 1 minute or so. Don’t let them burn or get mushy.
With a sharp knife, slice the grilled kernels off the cobs and gather them in a mixing bowl. Put in the fig pieces and toss together with the corn, adding the remaining salt, plus more to taste.
Serve warm or at room temperature in a wide bowl or platter. If you’re drizzling with the balsamic reduction, it’s best (and prettiest) to spread the corn and figs out in a shallow layer on a platter and swirl the vinegar with a teaspoon or fork in thin streaks over the top. This will give every spoonful of corn a delicate accent of sauce.