Food & Wine

Fresh corn tastes best straight off the cob – even in soup and salad


Photos by Rita Held
The yellow, white or multicolored corn starting to proliferate in local markets lends itself to summer soups and salads. To top greens, cook whole cobs to al dente, above, and then pair the kernels with cherry tomatoes, left.

Summer isn’t quite summer unless there’s fresh sweet corn.

Corn on the cob from the farmers’ market – yellow, white or bi-color – is so tasty, yet sometimes that buttered cob can be a bit too routine, too predictable.

Following are two delicious recipes for eating fresh, sweet corn off the cob – a salad and a soup.

The Fresh Corn & Cherry Tomato Salad has been in my repertoire for years. The combination of fresh corn and sweet little tomatoes may not be new, but it’s always a winner. Mild, seasoned rice vinegar adds a gentle tang, so very little oil is needed. The corn can be cooked several days ahead and refrigerated.

It’s best to undercook corn a bit in salads, so the kernels have some crunch. Microwave cooking is great for salads – place unshucked ears in the microwave and cook on high for 5 minutes. Let cool, then remove silk and husks and place in ice water to chill. Or alternatively, use leftover corn from a previous meal – that’s how I originally conceived this recipe.

For a summer corn chowder, bitters and browned butter add a distinctive flavor that gives it a melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness. No advance cooking is needed for the corn in this soup, and the kernels do not have to be separated once you cut them off the cob – this will happen naturally while cooking.

I suggest that you chiffonade the herbs, which is a cut that creates thin strips or shreds. To prepare it, stack large basil leaves one on top of the other, roll up and cut across into strips, then cut the strips in half. Or if you prefer, simply chop the basil.

Los Altos resident Rita Held develops recipes for Angostura USA. For more cooking ideas, visit her blog at GetCookingSimply.com.

Fresh Corn & Cherry Tomato Salad

• 3 ears fresh corn

• Large bowl of water and ice

• 1 pound cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes

• 1/4 cup each chopped fresh basil, mint and flat-leaf parsley

• 3 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar

• 1 tablespoon canola or safflower oil

• Salt and fresh-ground pepper to taste

Shuck corn and cook as desired. Submerge cooked corn in ice water to “kill the cook.” Drain and refrigerate until ready to make salad.

Cut kernels from corn and place in medium bowl. Kernels do not have to be individually separated. Cut tomatoes into halves and add to corn. Stir in chopped herbs. Sprinkle with seasoned rice vinegar, oil, salt and pepper; toss to coat. Taste and stir in more vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. Serve as is, or add to a tossed green salad.

Makes 4-6 servings.

Fresh Corn Chowder with Browned Butter & Bitters

• 4 ears fresh corn (to make 4 cups kernels)

• 3 cups vegetable or chicken broth

• 2 cups whole milk

• 1 teaspoon Angostura aromatic bitters

• 4 tablespoons butter

• 1 cup yellow onion, diced

• 1 cup ham, diced

• 1/4 cup flour

• Fresh-ground black pepper

• 1 cup (4-5 ounces) sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

• 1/3 cup fresh basil chiffonade

Shuck corn. Cut off stem to make flat end. Stand corn on end and use sharp knife to cut kernels from cobs (see photo). Measure 4 cups kernels and set aside. Stir together broth, milk and bitters; set aside.

In 6-quart pot, melt butter over medium-low heat. Allow butter to bubble gently, stirring occasionally, until light to medium brown. Add onions; stir and cook 3-4 minutes or until onions just start to brown. Stir in ham and continue to cook approximately 2 minutes more. Sprinkle in flour and gradually add broth mixture, stirring and scraping bottom of pot. Bring to gentle boil over medium heat, stirring occasionally.

Stir in corn and black pepper to taste.

Partially cover pot and simmer 15 minutes. Remove chowder from heat, stir in cheese and basil.

Makes 6 servings.

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