Grilled Tri-Tip, Corn and Pickled Cherry Salad

Meals centering around beef are few and far between here, more of a special occasion meat. So when it does appear, we make certain to pull out all the stops.

Take last weekend when my husband unearthed a tri-tip from our deep freeze. He requested a grill-up, leaving the details to me. The result: thin slices of medium-rare tri-tip, corn and a pickled cherry mixture on grilled romaine. It was so bang on, we’re still talking about it. Well, I am.

Grilled Tri-Tip, Corn, Cherries Salad_HGN

Sturdy hearts of romaine stand up beautifully to the heat of the grill, and even with only a quick stay there, provide an altogether new salad experience. Cobs of sweet corn are equally suited to flames, caramelizing and becoming sweeter still. The tri-tip, a boomerang-shaped cut of bottom sirloin beef similar in appearance to brisket, is quite lean and therefore does well generously seasoned with added or accompanying flavors. Here we grill it in the Santa Maria style over coals and red oak chips, where it develops a nice char and deep smoke. The quick red wine vinegar pickle of thinly sliced shallots and juicy tart cherries balances everything out.

Labor Day on the horizon means that what seems to be an endlessly and exceedingly hot, humid summer is actually ending soon. (By the calendar at least.) Why not give the grill a final workout, and let this meal be an inspiration for your holiday weekend adventures? Enjoy!

Cheers, Heather

Tell me… Have you ever grilled a salad?

Grilled Beef Tri-Tip, Corn and Pickled Cherry Salad
Prep Time
Cook Time
Total Time
Recipe Type: Salad, beef, entree, gluten-free, dairy-free, soy-free
Makes: 4
  • 2 Tbsp garlic powder (Penzeys Spices has a great Roasted Garlic Powder for a deeper flavor)
  • 1 Tbsp dried oregano
  • 1, 2- to 2 1/2-pound beef tri-tip roast, silver skin removed and excessive fat trimmed, patted dry
  • 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 large or 2 small shallot(s), thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup pitted cherries, sliced in half (or quarters, if large)
  • 1 small serrano pepper or Fresno red chili, thinly sliced (or a generous pinch of dried chilli flakes)
  • 2 romaine lettuce hearts, sliced in half lengthwise
  • 2 ears of corn, shucked
  • 2 to 3 Tbsp chopped fresh chives
  1. In a small bowl mix the garlic powder and dried oregano together with 1 1/2 Tbsp kosher salt and 1 tsp ground black pepper. Set aside.
  2. Place the tri-tip into a large casserole dish or non-reactive rimmed baking tray. Sprinkle the seasoning mixture over the meat, and massage gently to coat entirely. If grilling immediately, let the meat stand 30 minutes at room temperature. If preparing in advance, cover the dish/try with plastic and refrigerate 1 hour or up to overnight. Remove from the refrigerator 1 hour before grilling.
  3. In the meantime, whisk together the red wine vinegar, 2 tsp kosher salt and 2 Tbsp water in a small pan. Simmer over a low heat for 2 minutes, or until the salt is completely dissolved. Place shallots, cherries and chili slices (or flakes) in a small bowl or jar, and pour the vinegar mixture over. Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour. (Can be made several hours of 1 day ahead; just place in the refrigerator after the hour is up.)
  4. Prepare a charcoal or gas grill to high heat, with coals or flames kept to one side for ability to direct and indirectly cook the meat. Allow the grill grate to preheat 15 minutes. If desired, add 2 cups red oak chips that have been soaked in water for at least 20 minutes directly to the fire.
  5. Use a long tongs to rub the grate with a paper towel dipped in olive or canola oil. Place the tri-tip fattier side up over the coals/flame and cook until well seared, 3 to 5 minutes (covered if using gas). Flip and sear the other side, another 3 to 5 minutes.
  6. Lower the gas to medium-high or move the tri-tip to the cooler side of the charcoal grill for indirect cooking. Cover, and turn every 10 minutes or so, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest portion reads 130° F (for medium-rare), 25 to 35 minutes more. Transfer the meat to a cutting board, tent very loosely with foil, and let rest 15 to 20 minutes while you grill the veg.
  7. Rub the cut side of the romaine and the ears of corn with oil, and sprinkle lightly with salt. Grill the corn until cooked and lightly charred all over. Remove from the grill and set aside. Now grill the romaine until lightly wilted and grill marks appear on the cut side, typically no more than 1 minute. Remove from the grill.
  8. Arrange the grilled romaine hearts on a platter, or on each of 4 individual serving plates. Cut the corn kernels off the cob. Drain the pickled shallots and cherries, reserving the liquid. Combine the corn kernels and pickled mixture in a small bowl, taste, and adjust seasoning, if needed. Set aside.
  9. Remove the foil from the meat, and slice thinly against the grain. (See HGN Notes for tips.)
  10. Top the grilled romaine with a few slices of the tri-tip, some of the pickled shallot-cherry and corn mixture, chopped fresh chives, a light drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, plus a spoon or two of the reserved pickling liquid, if desired. Serve immediately.
HGN Notes
"Slice against the grain." You've probably read that before, but may not be certain what exactly it means. Here's help from Serious Eats: The tri-tip is boomerang-shaped, so your best bet in slicing is to either cut it in half at the center of the angle, or slice it against the grain on one side, turn the roast and similarly slice it against the grain on the other side.

The tri-tip steak itself is a more unique, less expensive cut of beef from the bottom sirloin portion. Not all markets will carry it, and it may also be labeled as a Santa Maria Steak, or Newport Steak (when cut into individual steaks). It is closely related to the culotte steak (a top sirloin cut) -- this can be a substitute if you are unable to find the tri-tip. If your market has a good butcher, my guess is you can request the cut.

Recipe adapted from Heather Christo and The New York Times.

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