Local sweet corn is in season and at farmers markets and in stores. Here are three recipes that go beyond those delicious buttered ears.
PAN-SEARED CORN AND QUINOA SALAD
Serves 4 to 6.
1/3 cup olive oil
Juice 3 limes
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon ground oregano
1/4 teaspoon crushed black peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 ears corn, husked
1 cup quinoa, cooked
1/2 cup fresh cilantro
2 stalks celery, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
3 green onions, chopped
1/4 cup raw hulled pumpkin seeds (I omitted)
1 jalapeno, seeded and sliced
1 lime, cut into wedges
Make dressing: In airtight container, whisk together dressing ingredients. Cover and set aside for 15-20 minutes to help flavors mingle.
Make salad: For even more flavor, toast the quinoa by sauteing it in a little olive oil over medium heat until it’s golden before cooking. Brush a cast-iron skillet with olive oil and set it over medium heat. Once skillet is hot, add corn and brush ears with olive oil. Using a fork, gently roll corn to evenly sear. It should take about 3 minutes for corn to be lightly browned. Transfer corn to a plate and place in fridge to cool.
In large bowl, toss together quinoa, cilantro, celery, bell pepper, green onions and pumpkin seeds (if using). Add as much of the jalapeno as you like, 1/2 teaspoon at a time, depending on how hot you want the salad to be.
Remove corn from fridge. Set stalk end of one ear in a large bowl and hold top by the narrow end. Gently run a large, sharp knife down the cob to remove kernels, letting them fall into the bowl. Rotating corn is less awkward than moving the knife and will get you larger kernels.
Toss corn kernels into the quinoa salad and mix with a large spoon. Mix in dressing, transfer salad to an air-tight container and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.
Serve cold, with a wedge of lime to squeeze over the top.
Fusilli With Corn Sauce
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt, plus more as needed
12 ounces dried whole-wheat fusilli (may substitute farfalle or another curly pasta)
8 ears husk-on fresh corn
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium yellow onions, chopped (about 3 cups)
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 ounces grated pecorino Romano cheese (1/2 packed cup)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or more as needed
1/2 cup packed fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
Bring a large pot of water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add a generous pinch of salt, then the pasta; cook according to the package directions, until al dente.
Meanwhile, shuck the corn and rinse it under running water, removing as much of the silk as you can.
Set a box grater over a bowl and run four of the cobs across the coarse side of the grater. (You should have about 1 1/2 cups milk and pulp.) Use a knife to cut the kernels from the other cobs; keep the whole kernels (about 3 cups) separate from the milk and pulp.
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic; cook, stirring frequently, until lightly browned, 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until the onions are very soft and sweet, 10 minutes. Increase the heat to medium and add the corn kernels. Cook, stirring, until the corn brightens and softens slightly, 2 minutes. Stir in the corn milk and pulp and turn off the heat. Cover to keep warm.
Drain the pasta (reserving 1 cup of the pasta cooking water), and add it to the skillet with the corn sauce. Toss to combine, adding pasta water a little at a time if the sauce needs loosening. Stir in the cheese, the 1/4 teaspoon of salt and the pepper; taste, and add salt and pepper as needed. Stir in the basil, divide the pasta among serving bowls, and serve hot.
To keep kernels from flying off the counter top, first cut the cobs in half crosswise. Then stand each half-cob cut end down before you use a knife to slice the kernels off one side, and repeat all the way around the cob.
Nutrition per serving: 430 calories, 17 g protein, 70 g carbohydrates, 11 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 10 mg cholesterol, 250 mg sodium, 10 g dietary fiber, 8 g sugar
Double Corn Summer Chowder
To make this vegetarian, skip the bacon fat and add an extra tablespoon of butter for sauteing the onion, seasoning it liberally with smoked Spanish paprika. Serve with a tomato-graced salad.
4 servings (makes about 10 1/2 cups)
5 cups water
5 or 6 medium ears corn
12 ounces small yellow creamer potatoes
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
1 large onion
1 small bunch fresh thyme
4 ounces thick-cut bacon
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups half-and-half
1 teaspoon sugar
Freshly ground black pepper
Bring the water to a boil in a large pot over high heat.
Meanwhile, shuck the corn and remove any silk, then cut off and reserve the kernels (to yield at least 4 cups), placing the cobs in the pot as you work. Scrub the potatoes and add them to the pot, along with the salt.
Once the water has returned to a full boil, reduce the heat to medium, cover and cook for 15 to 20 minutes. Check the potatoes after the first 15 minutes; once they’re tender enough to be pierced with the sharp tip of a knife, use a slotted spoon to transfer them to a bowl. Discard the corn cobs; what’s left is your corn broth.
Meanwhile, coarsely chop the onion. Remove the thyme leaves from their stems.
Line a plate with a few layers of paper towels. Cut the bacon into 1/2-inch pieces; cook it in a separate pot over medium heat for about 6 minutes, stirring, until crisped. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the bacon to the plate to drain. You should have about 2 tablespoons of rendered fat in the pot; if there’s more, pour it off.
Stir the butter and chopped onion into the bacon fat; cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring a few times, then sprinkle in the flour, whisking until well blended. Pour in 4 cups of the corn-cob broth. (If there’s any broth left over, strain, cool and freeze for another use.)
Add the reserved corn kernels, the cooked potatoes (cutting them in half or into chunks as you work), the half-and-half, thyme leaves and sugar; cover and cook (medium heat) for 5 minutes or until the corn and potatoes are warmed through.
Stir in the crisped bacon. Taste, and season with pepper and additional salt, as needed. Divide among individual bowls; serve warm.
Nutrition per serving: 500 calories, 14 g protein, 48 g carbohydrates, 28 g fat, 14 g saturated fat, 85 mg cholesterol, 570 mg sodium, 6 g dietary fiber, 11 g sugar