Sweetcorn – super cob
I grew sweetcorn in the garden when the children were young. There is something inspiring about planting a tiny kernel and watching it grow so tall. Sweetcorn requires little care and you are rewarded with the main cobs and tiny offshoots of baby corn. Apart from the messy husks and the furious flossing after eating, I still love eating sweetcorn like a beaver, as I did back then. I smile when I pull open those husks to find the glass beads of yellow and remember.
When you cook corn antioxidant activity, which helps protect the body from cancer and heart disease, is actually increased. Don’t write off the tinned or frozen stuff either, evidence suggests this is just as good, so eat it out of season, its just as nutritious.
Because sweetcorn is so delicious on its own, I fear it is left naked on the plate, apart from a thin negligee of butter, most of the time. Give this sweet starchy vegetable another look, let the little gold nuggets shine in other ways. Oh and do not be afraid of the starch, an ear of corn has about the same number of calories as an apple and less than one-fourth the sugar, makes you think.
Cook your corn as normal and dress it with something a little more……substantial. Have a search, maybe a guacamole when avocados are good, or keep the butter but flavour it with chilli or finely chopped olives. Make corn fritters with the tinned and frozen stuff. Make a puree, kids love it.
Corn Puree, not exact measurement as I do this on the fly
Simply peel and finely dice half an onion and a couple of cloves of garlic. Cut all the kernels off the sweet corn – 300g and throw them in a pan to sweat with 100g butter. Season well, add about 150ml double cream and cook until all is soft. Puree with a blender and then pass through a fine sieve. Used under scallops this is spectacular.
Here is something just a bit different a super quick and easy little salad which people always comment on. It tastes better than it looks, the mint and coriander work so well together here.
Toasted Corn with a fresh Mint Tomato Dressing
for 4 serves you will need:
- 3 whole corn cobs
- 2 spring onions, thinly sliced
- Bunch of coriander, finely chopped – stalks and all
- 1 large ripe avocado. It needs to be firm enough so you can dice it. Top tip, use your thumb to gently test the top if it yields slightly it is perfect.
- 1 small red chilli – finely chopped – optional
- 2 large ripe tomatoes
- 1 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
- 3 tbsp of virgin olive oil
- 1 clove of garlic – crushed
- a handful of mint – finely chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
Remove the outer leaves of your cobs, wash and dry, remove all the silks and rub with a little oil. Grill them on medium heat until they are beginning to char. Remove the kernels from the cob with a sharp knife.
Boil the kettle and fill a container big enough for the tomatoes with cold water and some ice. Score the tomatoes with a cross on the top, fill a second container with boiling water and drop the tomatoes in for about a minute. Scoop them out and drop into the cold water. The skins will now be easy to remove.
Pop the skinless tomatoes in a food processor along with all the other dressing ingredients. Blitz until well combined. If you do not have a processor then you will have to grate those tomatoes and shake to combine or use a hand-held blender. No excuses, this is so simple.
Combine the corn kernels, avocados, spring onions, coriander and at this point extra chilli if you want, dress with the tomato dressing and eat. Easy.
Corn is such a versatile vegetable.
Juicing raw kernels and cooking the liquid will make it thicken to a creamy puree. Add this to polenta instead of butter. POW
Another funky way to eat whole corn is to grill them to your liking and cover in a crema like the Mexican’s do. Also if you soak the whole husk in water and then grill on a BBQ you can peel the leaves back and use them as a handle. Not BBQ weather? then trim any outer brown husks only and bake in a little water under foil at 190ºc for about half an hour.
Look up some traditional Mexican street food recipes. My favourite it Feta crema – you need to make the olive crumb the day before though, so I have been known to use finely chopped capers but it is not the same.
- 200g pitted black olives
- 150g feta
- 60g sour cream
- a handful of basil leaves
- 1 clove of garlic – crushed
Put the olives on a lined baking tray and cook on low 100ºc for about 8 hours until dried thoroughly. Then finely chop. I use this as a savoury topping, I make batches so usually have it on hand.
Combine the feta, sour cream, basil and garlic in the processor and blitz to make a soft cream. Simply coat the warm, cooked corn cob in the crema and sprinkle with the olive crumb and paprika, if you like hot chilli flakes.
There are over 200 varieties of corn, and as well as being Oh so sweet, they are a good source of Vitamin C. Take another look. Find and cook a good corn masala recipe and I will come round for a bowl.