Enjoy sweet corn fresh from the farm field

This summertime vegetable abounds in area markets and is perfect in savory and sweet dishes

     Sweet corn is a summer favorite, and it’s in season now with plenty of ripe ears on grocery shelves and at farmers markets.
    In addition to being a tasty treat, sweet corn is a good source of carbohydrates, B vitamins and fiber.
    It’s also a versatile vegetable, ideal to eat on its own — grilled, roasted, microwaved or boiled on the cob — or served as an entree or side dish.
    When shopping, look for yellow, white or bicolor cobs of corn with husks that are bright green and well-filled ears with plump kernels. The kernels at the tip of the ear should be smaller than the rest — large kernels indicate corn is overly mature.
    Avoid corn with under-developed kernels, wilted or dried husks, brown kernels, or depressed areas on the kernels.
    Sweet corn should be refrigerated immediately and eaten soon after purchase because its quality deteriorates rapidly after harvest. Leave the husks on until you are ready to prepare the corn to retain moisture.
    Remove the husks and silk prior to cooking. A vegetable brush will help remove stubborn silk.
    If you find a worm in the ear, there’s no reason to discard the entire cob, simply remove the portion with the worm. You may cut the kernels from the cob or cook the cob intact.
    You can cook a cob of corn on the grill, in the microwave or in a pot of boiling water. Butter it, using either plain butter or an herbal butter, then season with salt and pepper. While this is an ideal side dish, it also makes a delicious meal by itself.
    Try the taste of corn and tomatoes — quintessential summer vegetables — in a quick saute. Cook one cup fresh corn kernels and 1/2 cup diced shallots in two teaspoons canola oil in a medium skillet for about five minutes, stirring occasionally until lightly browned. Remove from the heat and let it stand for five minutes, then stir in one pound diced tomatoes, one tablespoon chopped fresh tarragon or basil and 1/4 teaspoon salt.
    Following are sweet corn recipes from www.onceuponachef.com.

 

    onceuponachef.com

Chesapeake Corn, Tomatoes and Basil

3 cups fresh corn kernels
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup seeded and diced tomatoes
2 teaspoons Old Bay seasoning
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

    Combine corn and 1-1/4 cups water in a 10-inch skillet. Bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and cook about 10 minutes, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the corn is tender-crisp and there are about two tablespoons of water left in the pan.
    Stir in butter, tomatoes, Old Bay and continue cooking until the butter is melted and the tomatoes are warmed through. Taste and add salt to taste, if necessary. Stir in basil. Serve warm.
    This dish can be made up to a day ahead of time, but wait to add the basil until right before serving.
    Makes four servings.

 

Pasta With Roasted Summer Vegetables

1-1/4 pounds cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
4 shallots, thinly sliced
5 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
2 teaspoons salt
1-1/2 teaspoons sugar
1 medium zucchini, cut into 1/4-inch chunks
1-1/2 cups fresh corn kernels
12 ounces fusilli pasta
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon herbes de Provence or dried thyme
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese, plus more for serving
1/2 cup tightly packed basil leaves, roughly chopped
1/3 cup pine nuts, toasted

    Combine tomatoes, shallots, garlic, olive oil, salt and sugar on a baking sheet lined with heavy-duty foil. Toss until the vegetables are evenly coated. Arrange vegetables in a single layer and roast in a 450-degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes, until the tomatoes are just starting to brown.
    Add the zucchini and corn, toss (the tomatoes will collapse) and spread into an even layer. Roast five minutes more, until zucchini and corn are tender-crisp.
    Cook pasta in salted water until al dente. Drain, then return pasta back to the pan. Add roasted vegetables and their juices to the pan along with the butter, herbes de Provence, red pepper flakes, Pecorino Romano, basil and pine nuts. Toss well, then taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Spoon into pasta bowls and drizzle with olive oil, if desired. Serve with more grated cheese.
    To toast the pine nuts, put them in a dry skillet and cook over medium-low heat three minutes, stirring frequently, until golden in spots.
    Makes four to six servings.

Savory Cornbread with Cheddar and Thyme

1-1/2 cups flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 tablespoon baking powder
1-1/4 teaspoons salt
2-1/2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme
3/4 cup corn kernels
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
1-1/4 cups milk
2 large eggs
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled

    In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt, sugar and thyme until well combined. Stir in the corn and cheese.
    In a small bowl, break up eggs with a wire whisk, then add milk and whisk to combine. Add the wet mixture and melted butter to the dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until just combined. Do not overmix.
    Pour the batter into the a 9-inch baking dish that’s been coated with cooking spray. Smooth the surface with the back of a spoon or spatula. Bake in a 400-degree oven about 30 minutes, until puffed and lightly golden.
    Cool slightly in the pan on a wire rack, then cut into pieces and serve warm.
    Leftovers can be wrapped in foil and reheated in a 350-degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes.
    Cornbread can be frozen in an airtight container or sealable plastic bag for as long as three months. To reheat, wrap in foil and warm it in a 350-degree oven until hot.

 

Corn, Zucchini and Tomatoes with Goat Cheese

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 cup chopped shallots
1 large clove garlic, minced
2-1/4 cups corn kernels
1-1/2 cups seeded and diced zucchini
1-1/2 cups seeded and diced tomatoes
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1 4-ounce log creamy goat cheese
2 tablespoons fresh chopped basil

    Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add shallots and cook about two minutes, until soft and translucent. Add garlic and cook one minute more, taking care not to brown.
    Add corn and zucchini and increase heat to medium. Cook two minutes, stirring frequently. Add tomatoes, salt, pepper and sugar and continue to cook about two minutes, until tomatoes start to break down.
    Break goat cheese into chunks and stir into vegetables until creamy and well-combined. Remove from the heat, stir in fresh basil and three tablespoons warm water. Adjust seasonings with more salt and pepper, if necessary. Serve warm.
    The dish can be made a day ahead of time and stored in a covered container in the refrigerator, but wait to add the water until reheating.
    Makes four to six servings.

 

Summer Corn Soup With Fresh Herbs

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 heaping cup chopped shallots
6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
6 ears fresh corn
1-1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1-1/2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh basil, for garnish
1-1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh thyme, for garnish

    Remove husks and silks from the corn. Set one ear of corn aside. Use a knife to cut the kernels off of the remaining five cobs, then break the scraped cobs in half. Set aside.
    Melt butter in a large pot over medium-low heat. Add shallots and cook eight to 10 minutes, stirring often, until soft and translucent. Add chicken stock, corn kernels, broken cobs, whole ear of corn, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and cook, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Remove the whole ear of corn and set aside to cool. Cook soup 10 minutes more, then remove the broken cobs from the pot and discard.
    Off heat, use an immersion blender to purée the soup until very smooth. Alternatively, you can cool the soup slightly and purée it in batches in a blender, making sure to crack the lid or remove the center cap to allow steam to escape and cover with a dishtowel so it won’t splatter.
    Place a fine mesh sieve over a large bowl and pass the soup through, using a ladle to push the soup through. Discard fibers and bits of kernels in the sieve.
    Place the strained soup in a clean pot. It should have a creamy consistency. If it’s too thick, thin it with water or chicken stock. If it’s too thin, cook over medium heat until thickened.
    Use a knife to cut cooked kernels off the cooled whole cob, then add the kernels to the soup along with the herbs. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with tiny sprigs of fresh basil and thyme, if desired. Serve hot or cold.
    Soup can be frozen for as long as three  months. Defrost soup in the refrigerator for 12 hours, then reheat it on the stovetop over medium heat until hot.
    Makes four servings.

 

Fresh Corn Salad With Scallions and Basil

5 ears corn, shucked
2 scallions, white and green parts, finely sliced
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2-1/2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup finely sliced fresh basil leaves
Sugar, optional

    Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Boil corn three to four minutes, until tender-crisp. Drain corn, then immerse in very cold water. Place corn on a clean dish towel set over a cutting board and use a serrated knife to cut the kernels of the cobs.
    In a large bowl, combine kernels with oil, vinegar, scallions, salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
    Just before serving, toss in the fresh basil. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary. If the salad tastes too tart, add a bit more oil. If it tastes bland, add a bit more vinegar or salt and pepper. Try adding a 1/4 teaspoon of sugar if the corn isn’t as sweet as you’d like.
    Serve the salad cold or at room temperature.
    Makes four to six servings.

 

Cilantro Lime Sweet Corn

4 cups corn
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
Zest of 2 limes
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/2 cup cilantro, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

    Combine corn, 1-1/2 cups water, salt and sugar in a 10-inch skillet or medium saucepan. Bring liquid to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium and cook about 15 minutes, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until corn is tender-crisp and there are about two tablespoons of water left in the pan.
    Stir in butter, lime zest, lime juice, cilantro and cayenne pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning, then serve warm.
    Makes four servings.

Black Bean and Corn Salad With Chipotle-Honey Vinaigrette

For salad:
2 ears fresh corn
1 cup chopped red onion
1 (14.5 oz) can black beans
1 red bell pepper, diced (about 1 cup)
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh chopped cilantro (plus a bit more for garnish, if desired)
1 avocado
For dressing:
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large garlic clove, roughly chopped
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
3/4 teaspoon cumin
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce

    Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add corn, cover, and turn the heat to low. Simmer 10 minutes. Remove corn from the water and let cool.
    Place chopped red onions in a small bowl and cover with water. Let sit about 10 minutes, then drain completely in a sieve and set aside.
    Place beans in a sieve, then run under cold water to rinse well. Let drain completely and set aside.
    Holding cooled corn upright in a large bowl, cut kernels off the cob in strips. Add beans, red onion, red bell pepper and cilantro.
    Make dressing by combining the ingredients in a blender or mini-food processor and process until smooth.
    Pour dressing over the salad and toss well. Cover and refrigerate one hour to overnight.
    Just before serving, slice avocado in half. Remove the pit then, using a butter knife, cut a grid in each half. Holding avocado over the salad, use a spoon to scoop out the diced flesh. Toss salad gently, then taste and adjust seasoning if necessary). Garnish with a bit of fresh chopped cilantro if desired. Serve cold.
    Makes six servings.

 

Black Bean Shrimp Salad With Corn and Pickled Onions

For pickled onions:
3/4 cup white vinegar
3 tablespoons sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
For salad:
2 ears corn
Two 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed and well-drained
3 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for serving
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined, thawed if frozen
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
4 oz feta cheese, crumbled
Freshly ground black pepper, for serving

    In a medium skillet, combine vinegar, sugar and salt. Bring to a boil, whisking to dissolve sugar. Add onion, reduce to a simmer and cook one to two minutes, uncovered, gently stirring, until the onions have wilted slightly. Transfer onions and pickling liquid to a heatproof bowl and let cool.
    Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add corn, then cover and turn the heat to low. Simmer 10 minutes, then remove corn from the water and let cool. Holding the cooled corn upright in a large mixing bowl, cut kernels off the cob in strips. Add beans, scallions, cilantro, five tablespoons oil, lime and lemon juiced, 1/2 teaspoon salt and cumin. Toss well and set aside.
    In a large skillet, heat the remaining oil over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Add shrimp and season with remaining salt. Cook one minute, then add garlic and cook one to two minutes, stirring occasionally, until the shrimp are just cooked through.
    Transfer shrimp to the bowl with the corn, scraping the garlicky oil from the pan into the bowl. Toss salad, then taste and adjust seasonings, if necessary.
    Transfer to a serving bowl. Crumble feta over the salad, gently toss, and sprinkle with extra cilantro and fresh ground black pepper. Remove pickled onions from the pickling liquid and serve on the side. The salad may be served room temperature or cold.
    The salad is best served on the same day of assembling, but it can be refrigerated in an airtight container for as long as two days. Taste and adjust seasoning again before serving.
    Makes four to six servings.

 

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