Corn comes off the cob and into savory summer salads
Indulge your appetite for sweet corn by shopping farmers’ markets, roadside stands and local grocers for freshly picked ears, then crunching your way around cob after cob after cob.
And when you decide you’ve had enough, let these recipes seduce you into indulging one, two or three more times with salads that embrace summer’s best produce and the season’s easygoing attitude.
Sure, a pair of cool corn soups got our attention when we opened Melissa Hamilton’s and Christopher Hirsheimer’s book, “Canal House Cooks Every Day“ (Andrews McMeel, $45), but it was their take on a classic corn-and-bean succotash that won us over.
It begins with leftover corn, and “you needn’t worry if you have a little more of one ingredient or a little less of another,“ the authors write.
“This salad isn’t finicky.“ Indeed, the salad is easily doctored. If you like, toss in some olives and salty cheese, like they do.
That’s summertime perfect. So is a salad from Martha Stewart’s team that pairs grilled corn with avocados.
“Heather Christo’s Generous Table: Sharing the Love of Good Food With Friends and Family“ (Kyle Books, $29.95) celebrates the freshest of corn by mixing raw kernels with mango, then tucking the combo into heirloom tomatoes for serving — or into small Mason jars for a more casual feel.
How do you choose terrific fresh corn? Well, don’t pull back the husks to see if it’s an ear you want because you’ll just dry out the kernels, writes Deborah Madison’s in her “Vegetable Literacy” (Ten Speed Press, $40). “Instead, feel the ear with your fingers to detect whether the kernels are filled out or not.”
Madison, who might serve freshly cooked corn with an herbed salt or salsa verde, suggests opting for organic corn whenever possible. “And don’t let a worm scare you if you find it on the tip of an ear. It’s just a little creature, easily knocked off its perch.”
CORN, STRING BEAN & POTATO SUCCOTASH SALAD
Note: Adapted from “Canal House Cooks Every Day” by Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hirsheimer.
Cook: Put 4 thin-skinned waxy potatoes in a pot of salted cold water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. While potatoes cook, add 4 shucked ears of corn to the pot; cook 3-5 minutes. Remove corn from water; cool. Add 1⁄2 pound trimmed string beans to pot; cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Scoop beans out of pot with a slotted spoon; cool quickly in a bowl of ice water. Drain potatoes when tender; about 20 minutes depending on size.
Assemble: Cut corn off cob into a large bowl. Cut potatoes into slices or chunks. Add to bowl. Drain green beans, add to bowl. Add 1 finely chopped shallot; a handful of fresh parsley leaves, chopped; 1⁄3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss gently.
Adjust seasonings, adding more oil if needed. Servings: 4 to 6
TOMATOES STUFFED WITH FRESH CORN, MANGO SALAD
Note: Adapted from “Heather Christo’s Generous Table.”
Chop: Cut tops off 6 large heirloom tomatoes. Gently cut around inside edge of each tomato; use a spoon or your hands to scoop out most of the insides (reserve for another use) creating a cup. Sprinkle insides with salt and pepper. Cut off kernels from 4 ears corn and place in a large bowl. Add 1⁄2 mango, peeled and diced; 1⁄2 bunch green onions, thinly sliced; 1⁄2 cup halved cherry tomatoes; 1⁄4 cup minced fresh cilantro; 1⁄2 jalapeno, finely minced; 11⁄2 tablespoons olive oil and 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice.
Mix: Gently mix to combine; season with salt. Spoon salad into tomato cups. Transfer to a platter. Garnish with fresh chive blossoms or another edible blossom (such as nasturtiums). Serve at room temperature.
GRILLED CORN, AVOCADO AND CILANTRO
Adapted from “Meatless: More Than 200 of the Very Best Vegetarian Recipes,” from the kitchens of Martha Stewart Living (Clarkson Potter, $25).
Heat grill to medium high. Grill 4 ears of shucked corn, rotating often until lightly charred, about 15 minutes. Cool slightly. Cut kernels from cob. Toss corn and 1 sliced avocado gently with 1⁄4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, plus 1 tablespoon each fresh lime juice and olive oil. Season with coarse salt.
CONQUER THE KERNEL DILEMMA
We’ve put men on the moon but have yet to come up with a perfect corn de-kerneler — one that cleans a freshly shucked cob neatly while not shooting kernels all over the kitchen.
Sure, there are at least a dozen clever implements (variously called strippers, kernelers, zippers, cutters and peelers) designed to do the job. None seem to work as well as a sharp knife and steady hand. Even that has its own problems: Holding that cob upright and steady while cutting off the kernels can be a challenge. Containing the kernels that shoot off the cob as you cut still another.
To solve the slippery cob-on-counter issue, “Heather Christo’s Generous Table: Sharing the Love of Good Food With Friends and Family” (Kyle Books, $29.95) suggests: “Cut corn on a clean dishcloth. It keeps the kernels from bouncing around after they have been sliced from the cob. I also like to use a serrated knife — it makes cutting kernels off the cob easier.”
And while other cooks like using a shallow bowl, our favorite cob de-kerneling tip comes from Lisa Schumacher of the Chicago Tribune’s test kitchen: Using a Bundt pan, that tube pan with fluted sides, she positions a shucked ear of corn, stem down, into the tube’s opening. With a sharp knife, she cuts straight down the cob’s length to remove the kernels that drop into the pan. OK, 98 percent did when we tried it. But what’s a few kernels when you have to deal with several ears full?