Most people know the #1 most important fact about corn: The moment it’s picked, it starts to become less sweet. A teacher once told us to set a pot of water to boil on the stove before we left the house to run to the farm stand, and—assuming someone is home to watch the flame!—it’s hard to disagree with that tactic. Corn converts its natural sugars to starch once it’s plucked, and fast.
In America, white “Country Gentleman” and yellow “Golden Bantam” corn remain among the most popular varieties, along with speckled “butter and sugar” corn. If you spy heirloom local corn, snap it up! It can be totally worth investigating—not to mention, stunning.
When shopping, choose ears of corn with fresh green husks and no signs of browning or drying. When the husks are pulled back, they should reveal corn silks that are pale yellow and moist. The kernels should be plump, juicy and tightly packed in even rows. Store ears of corn unshucked in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for up to two days, then remove the husks and silks just before using.
Here are a few of our most popular corn recipes, from raw kernels to grilled and boiled variations.
Don’t make us choose! Our most popular corn recipe is a three-fer: corn three ways. There’s fresh oregano and parsley, plus Parmigiano-Reggiano, for the Italian food snob at the party. There’s a Mexican riff, loaded up with butter (some versions use mayo!), cilantro, cotija and cilantro. And no one can resist the simple, smoky charms of paprika mingling with sea salt and butter.
Want dinner on the table in 30 minutes, and want it to be fresh, fresh, fresh? Here’s the salad you want come summertime. It’s gorgeous, it gives you an excuse to break out that little can of adobe chile peppers, and did we mention shrimp? This is a marriage of Mexican cuisine (cotija, cilantro, jalapeño, pico de gallo) and California cooking (grilled shrimp, arugula, corn, olive oil) at its finest.
Corn makes it so easy to be vegetarian. These stuffed bell peppers are a testament to that fact. (Leave out that Monterey Jack cheese, and they’re vegan!) This is a slow-cooker dish, which makes it a dream to prepare in the hot summer months. Corn, black beans, quinoa, plenty of spices and herbs, and a good brush of olive oil make this more “savory” than “healthy” tasting. That’s a good thing.
Once you start thinking about corn on a pizza, we defy you to try to crave anything else for dinner. Especially when we add that the dough can be store-bought. And the toppings include goat cheese. And that you get to use a special “ghost chile garlic BBQ sauce.” You get to use up those bushels of zucchini you have lying around, too. Ahhh, life is good.
Corn, ricotta and Parmesan combine to make the filling in this ravioli out of this world. It’s the taste of summer in a bite, really. We love that you use fresh basil, Parmesan and more corn to garnish the dish. Who wouldn’t get excited about this for dinner? (Answer: nobody.)
Leftover corn from a summer dinner? Make a frittata from it the next day. The nonpareil fridge cleanout dish loves fresh corn, as does an egg dish of any stripe, really. It’s just the way to use up your fresh corn-tomato salad from the previous day or start anew. Lemon zest, red pepper flakes and creamy goat cheese lend body and heft to this beauty of a recipe.
In a cabin in the woods, nice and cool, and need a mini project with excellent results? Make roasted chicken and corn soup with chipotle sour cream. The key here is preparing the umami elements separately, seasoning and roasting poblano chiles and corn and chicken until each reaches peak tastiness. Spun together into a soup and served warm with buttery avocado, it’s an unbeatable dish for the last of the dog days.