Intro to Cooking: Sweet, Spicy, and Savory Corn!

There are few culinary pleasures to match the first crunchy, buttery bite of a fresh ear of corn off the cob.  And with each rich mouthful, you’re taking in healthy doses of folate (to ward off heart disease, colon cancer and to prevent birth defects in the fetuses of pregnant women), thiamin (for better memory), and pantothenic acid (which eases energy production under stress).  So check out these three painfully simple recipes to shake up your serving of corn, with one each to satisfy any sweet, savory, or spicy craving you have!

Sweet: Rachael Ray’s Kettle Corn

Don’t settle for the overly-processed easy-pop bags when you can make your own without a hassle!

Ingredients

1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup popcorn kernels
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon coarse salt

Instructions

1. In a large pot with a tight-fitting lid, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the popcorn.
2. When the oils sizzles, sprinkle the sugar over the kernels. Cover and shake the pan until the popping slows down, about 3 minutes.
3. Remove from the heat and toss with the salt.

Spicy: Fire-Hot Corn on the Cob

Modified from this Ezra Pound Cake recipe, this corn on the cob will pair well with a tall, icy glass of lemonade. And trust me, you’ll need it!

Ingredients

6 ears corn, husked
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8  teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Cooking spray
1/4 cup crema Mexicana (can be replaced with low-fat or regular sour cream)
6  lime wedges
Crushed red pepper, to taste

Instructions

1. Preheat grill to medium-high.

2. In a small bowl, combine chili powder, salt and pepper.

3. Place corn on a grill rack coated with cooking spray; cook 12 minutes or until corn is lightly browned, turning frequently. Place corn on a platter; drizzle with crema. Sprinkle with chili powder mixture and crushed red pepper. Spritz with lime juice.

Oven Directions: If you need to roast the corn in the oven, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, and place the corn (in its husks) on the middle rack for about 30 minutes

Savory: Roasted Corn & Black Bean Salad

Concocted by my homeboy Mark Bittman, this salad is good enough to be a main course! I added sea salt for an extra kick.

Ingredients

2 tablespoons corn oil
4 to 6 ears corn, stripped of their kernels (or 1 cup frozen)
1 small red onion, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper,  chopped
1 teaspoon mild chile powder, like ancho
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup black beans (canned are fine)
Juice of 2 limes
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves, more or less
1/2 tablespoon sea salt

Instructions

1. Put the oil in a large skillet  and turn the heat to high. When the oil is very hot but not yet smoking, toss in the corn. Let it sit for a minute or so, then stir or shake the pan; brown the corn a bit, 5 minutes or less, then turn off the heat and stir in the onion, pepper, chile powder, salt, and pepper.

2. Cool for a few minutes, then toss with the remaining ingredients. Taste, adjust the seasoning, and serve hot, warm, or at room temperature.

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