Saturday, September 10, 2011

What to Do with Fresh Summer Corn: Add Basil!

For me, nothing says summer more than a fresh ear of corn, picked that morning out of a field in Rhode Island, simply steamed and smeared with a pat of butter. But sometimes that age-old favorite gets dull — or maybe your corn isn't as sweet as you'd like it to be. When that happens, I often turn to flavorful compound butters to add a bit more pizzazz to my cob. OK, well used to. I can’t eat corn anymore. But that’s a story for another time.

The beauty of this recipe is that it can work for both steamed corn and also sautéed corn. Maybe you've got a kid who has braces, or can't stand the little pieces of corn eating the kernels off the cob results in, or (like me) you're lacking a big stockpot or sauté pan for steaming. Whatever method you choose, your dish will be delicious — just as long as your corn is fresh.

Not a fan of pesto? No worries! Here are some more flavorful additions that you can play around with. My one piece of advice is to taste, taste, taste. Everyone’s flavor preferences are different and depending on whether your corn is warm or cold, how much added flavor and seasoning you find necessary will vary with the temperature of your foundational ingredient.

- Lime, salt, chili powder
- Lemon, mint chiffonade
- Honey and butter (and a bit of truffle if you have it)
- Chopped red onion and diced pimento or roasted red pepper

Fresh Corn Salad with Pesto Butter
2 ears fresh sweet corn, husked
3 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
3 tablespoons fresh basil pesto
Salt, to taste
Fresh basil leaves, cut in a chiffonade, for garnish

Add about 1 inch of water to a stockpot and bring it to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, add the corn and cook until the kernels are tender and fragrant, about 2-3 minutes.*
Meanwhile, mix together the butter and pesto to combine. Place in a small bowl and chill.
At the table, slather your corn with the pesto butter (you can use a knife; I like to serve small 1 ½-inch squares of bread as a vehicle for applying the butter) and enjoy with a sprinkle of salt and fresh basil chiffonade.

Serves 2

*Note: If you can't eat the corn on the cob, you can steam it then cut it off with a knife. Simply place the cob on its side and slice off kernels in strips. Alternatively, you can sauté the raw kernels sliced off the cob in a sauté pan with a little plain butter, tossing the kernels with pesto butter, salt, and fresh basil just before serving.

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