Undoubtedly, one of the best things about summer garden vegetables is the versatility they offer. Corn can be prepared on the cob and eaten fresh and free of any toppings, or made into a scrumptious dip. Fresh tomatoes add pungent flavor and color to any salad or made straight into salsa.
And even the most imperfect vegetable, or one left out a little too long on the kitchen counter, is usually versatile enough be used as the star ingredient in a recipe.
(Somewhat) Fresh From the Garden: Summer Spiced Corn
Life happens. As it did when I had corn hanging around for longer than I had intended. The kernels had lost much of the sweetness, but were still good enough for eating when spiced, literally, with a blend of flavors, also found in many summer gardens. And since I’m mostly in charge of supplying boys with adequate sustenance for All Summer Activities (i.e. feeding them continually), I’m not about to throw away corn that’s a little past its prime.
Blended with flavors of chili pepper, cumin, salt, and salsa, this corn works well as a standalone dish or used as a topping on tacos, tortillas, hot dogs, and hamburgers.
Summer Spiced Corn
- 6 ears of corn, husked These are going to be grilled/roasted. If you like to leave husks on for this process, that's fine.
- 2 tablespoons + a bit more on hand oil olive, avocado, vegetable = any of these will work
- 1 small chili pepper, seeded and diced
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup queso fresco cheese
- kosher salt, to taste
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 to 2 teaspoons cumin
- 2-4 tablespoons salsa or diced tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped (optional)
- 1 wedge lime, juice squeezed over top of corn
- 1-2 pinches cayenne (red pepper)
- Roast or grill corn in your preferred way. If I'm not using a grill, I set it in the oven under a very hot broiler (about 500 degrees F) for 10-12 minutes, watching it carefully and turning it intermittently until the kernels are starting to blacken. Warning: this methods can be pretty smoky; try not to set your kitchen on fire.
- Remove corn from oven. Let the ears cool a bit, enough for you to cut off the kernels. Cut those and set aside.
- In an iron skillet, heat oil on medium heat.
- Add garlic and chilies to oil, and sauté. You're looking for garlic to soften and chilies to shrivel a bit. This process won't take long, just a few minutes. Chilies in a skillet can, like the corn in the oven, get quite smoky. Now is a good time to open a kitchen window.
- Add the corn to the skillet and stir around a bit. You want the corn to stay a bit crunchy.
- Add the spices and cilantro and stir gently, just mixing in everything. Crumble the queso fresco throughout and stir just enough to melt. Remove from heat and squirt a bit of lime juice gently over the corn mixture.
- Serve with tortillas, on top of tacos. Eat it with chips and avocados. Eat it by itself. If the corn is too spicy/not spicy enough, you can adjust the chili powder, cumin, and cayenne. Don't get chincy with the salt.