Who doesn’t look forward to enjoying an ear of fresh sweet corn, with its neat rows of plump kernels just waiting for a little butter and salt? And once every summer, when the time is right, a platter of sweet corn and just picked tomatoes can be a favorite family meal – although not necessarily a balanced one. The sweet corn we enjoy today is thought to have originated in Pennsylvania in the 1700s. Over the years, different varieties of corn were bred for particular traits, such as sweetness, tenderness, and kernel color, and today there are more than 200 varieties grown in every state.
– Kit Broihier, MS, RD, LD
Many people think of corn as not much more than a starchy dish, but it’s quite nutritious. A large ear weighs in at just 123 calories and provides dietary fiber, B vitamins, vitamin C, and plenty of phytochemicals, which vary according to the type of corn. For example, yellow corn contains more carotenoids, like lutein and zeaxanthin, which promote eye health, than white corn. And while cooking corn does decrease its vitamin C content, it actually increases the total amount of antioxidant phytochemicals called phenolics.
Cooking with corn
Boiling may be the most familiar way to prepare fresh corn, but it’s by no means the only way. Corn can be steamed, grilled, even microwaved (cook on high power for 3 minutes, let cool for several minutes, then shuck). Of course, you can also cut the kernels from the cob and cook them any way you might use frozen corn kernels. Tender, fresh sweet corn can even be enjoyed raw. Here are some other ways to savor sweet corn during its fleeting season.
- For a quick summery salad, mix fresh sweet corn kernels with colorful chopped bell peppers and red onion, top with feta crumbles, and serve in avocado hald.
- Cut ears of corn into discs and thread onto skewers with other kabob ingredients.
- Set up a “corn bar” with plenty of freshly cooked corn and an array of toppings such as herbs butters, grated Parmesan cheese, mayonnaise, pesto, chili powder, seasoned olive oil, and various types of salt.
- Make a quick corn soup (purée half the kernels and leave the rest whole).
- Fry up a batch of fresh corn cakes (or bake a sweet corn cake – delicious when paired with raspberries or blueberries).
Recipe idea: grilled mexican street corn
Serves: 8 – active time: 22 minutes – total time: 22 minutes
Fresh, local corn on the cob is a summer staple in anyone’s book and Grilled Mexican Street Corn – creamy, cheesy, and just a touch of sweet – is a surefire hit. Sweet corn is more than delicious: it’s a whole-grain food that’s high in fiber and a source of several B vitamins and minerals. Add in chili mayo, cilantro, and Cotija or feta cheese and you have a colorful dish that’s as good to look at as it is to eat. Lime wedges on the side give a citrus tang. Recipe may be halved.
– 5 tbsp. light mayonnaise
– 1 tbsp. melted butter
– 1 clove garlic, minced
– 1/4 tsp. fine sea salt
– 1 tsp. Ancho chili powder
– 1/2 cup crumbled Cotija or feta cheese
– 1/4 cup minced cilantro
– 8 ears sweet corn, husks removed
– 2 limes, each cut into 3 wedges
1. Preheat grill to medium-high heat (about 200°C to 230°C).
2. In a small bowl, mix mayonnaise, butter, garlic, salt, and chili powder.
3. On a flat plate, stir together cheese and cilantro.
4. Grill the corn, turning a few times, until it’s marked and has brown patches on all sides, about 10 to 13 minutes.
5. Using a pastry brush or knife, spread a thin layer of the mayonnaise mixture on all sides of the corn.
6. Roll each ear in the cheese-cilantro mix. Serve immediately with lime wedges on the side.
Aproximate nutritional values per serving: 150 calories, 21g carbohydrates, 5g protein, 7g fat (2,5g saturated), 10mg cholesterol, 240 mg sodium, 2g fiber.
Enjoy your corn!
This article was initially published in Hannaford’s Fresh Magazine of July– August 2015. Extracts of the article were used for this posting.