Summer isn’t quite over and there is still time to grab what I consider to be the quintessential summer vegetable–fresh corn on the cob. The best corn on the cob is picked and eaten within a few hours and it is so sweet that neither butter nor salt is needed. And if you have your own garden or easy access to a farm, you just might be able to partake in this freshest of fresh endeavors. But those of us who aren’t so fortunate needn’t despair since tasty fresh corn on cob is still available in most markets this time of year. Corn on the cob is tasty when simply boiled or steamed and is delicious when grilled with olive oil and fresh herbs. But if you want to dress the corn up further why not go all out?
I’ve adapted this recipe from The Splendid Table and this takes an ear of corn to a whole new level. The corn is drenched in melted butter as it is grilled which infuses the corn with a sweet and slightly charred flavor. A thick coating of tangy creme fraise helps the freshly grated parmesan cheese adhere to the ears which are then dusted with chili powder. This corn is so good that it is often the main attraction on the plate. I like to serve it with a simple grilled meat that allows the corn to really shine. And as an added bonus the corn toppings are so delicious that they can turn a ho-hum ear into something fabulous. How can you not try this?
6 ears fresh sweet corn, husks removed
1 /2 cup unsalted butter, melted
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 cups creme fraiche
About 3 cups freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/2 cup medium hot chili powder
1 lime, cut into six wedges
- Place the corn on a medium-high grill. Using tongs to turn the ears, grill the corn for 8 to 10 minutes, brushing generously with butter with each turn.
- Remove the corn to a platter and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Spread the creme friche on a shallow plate and the cheese on another plate.
- When the corn is cool enough to touch, roll it in the creme fraise, draining off the excess.
- Roll the creme fraise coated ears in the grated parmesan cheese then sprinkle evenly with the chili powder.
- Serve immediately with the lime wedges.
Here is a twist on a traditional pasta salad that I’ve adapted from Savory Simple. Grilled vegetables are the featured ingredients of this dish; I’ve used colorful bell peppers, fresh corn, leeks and two types of squash. A light grill gives them a slightly smoking and charred flavor without overpowering the dish. Kielbasa adds protein and additional flavor to the salad. And it is all built upon a bed of orzo. If you prefer you can use another small pasta. With the exception of the yellow and zucchini squash, the vegetables are all grilled whole so allow them to cool slightly before attempting to slice them.
The salad tastes best when eaten at room temperature so if you make it ahead of time—which you can easily do–simply allow it to sit outside of the refrigerator for half an hour before serving. The salad is substantial enough to be a meal unto itself on a hot summer evening or can liven up a buffet table. And since this is barbecue season, why not make a bowl of this salad for your next backyard event?
GRILLED KIELBASA & VEGETABLE ORZO SALAD
1½ cups orzo
2 tablespoons olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon kosher salt (to taste)
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 large green pepper
1 large yellow pepper
1 large red pepper
1 yellow squash, sliced in half lengthwise
1 zucchini, sliced in half lengthwise
1 ear fresh corn on the cob
1 link kielbasa, or other Polish sausage
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the orzo according to package instructions and then drain.
- Place the cooked orzo in a large bowl and toss with the olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Set aside.
- Preheat a grill to medium-high.
- Using tongs to carefully place the whole vegetables (only the yellow squash and the zucchini will be cut up) and the kielbasa on the hot grill and then close the lid.
- Grill for 4 minutes then using tongs, flip the vegetables and the kielbasa and continue cooking for an additional 3 to 4 minutes.
- Remove everything from the grill and allow to cool for several minutes until it can be handled comfortably.
- Slice the sausage thinly and add to the orzo.
- Remove the stem and seeds from the top of the peppers, peel away the skin, then dice the roasted peppers.
- Scrape the corn kernels off of the ear and add them to the salad.
- Trim the end off of the leek and thinly slice the white part of the leek and add it to the salad.
- Cut the yellow squash and zucchini into thin slices and add it to the salad as well.
- Toss everything together, adjust the seasoning if necessary, and serve.
Nothing says summer more than fresh corn on the cob and much to my delight, the height of corn season is rapidly approaching. For me the hardest part of living in Albania was the lack of corn on the cob. Sure you saw local farmers grilling and selling ears along the side of the road but it wasn’t the type of corn that you or I wanted to it. It was tough, chewy and flavorless or what I grew up calling “cow corn”- corn that was only meant to be consumed by animals. How do I know this? Because we learned the hard way when we purchased four ears at a local market. We should have been suspect when the old woman didn’t want to sell us the corn but we insisted and sure enough we were disappointed. So, with the exception of a one August week when I found myself back in the United States and I ate corn on the cob at every meal, I went without its golden sweetness for three years. But Belgium has fresh corn and it is every bit as wonderful as I remembered.
Corn on the cob is best when eaten the day it is harvested. If you are fortunate enough to live in close proximity to farms you can probably pick some up at a roadside stand. You can take it right home and boil it and eat it slathered in butter, salt and pepper. I’ve had many meals where the corn was the star. But if you want something different, or you simply don’t want to turn on the stove, grill up this corn alongside whatever meat you already have on the grill. The garlic and rosemary compliment the corn and because you cook the corn in seasoned oil you can skip the butter, salt, and pepper. It is really so easy and so good.
ROSEMARY GRILLED CORN ON THE COB
4 fresh ears corn on the cob
4 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon paprika
- Preheat a gas grill to high.
- Cut four pieces of aluminum foil that are large enough to wrap around the corn.
- Shuck the ears of corn making sure you remove all of the silk.
- Pour one quarter of the olive oil onto the center of each of the pieces of foil.
- Divide the black pepper, salt, garlic powder, and paprika among the pieces of foil.
- Place an ear of corn on each piece of foil and roll the ear to coat with the oil mixture.
- Place one sprig of rosemary alongside each ear of corn and wrap the foil tightly around the corn to form a packet.
- Place on the preheated grill and cook for 15-20 minutes, turning the foil packets every 3-4 minutes.
- When the corn is done carefully remove the packets from the heat and remove from the foil.
- Serve immediately.