Corn with Red Pepper and Herbs: A Summertime Favourite Becomes an Elegant Side Dish

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Corn on the cob is always a popular summertime treat and during its brief season markets and roadside stands overflow with bushels of corn at rock bottom prices. Frozen and canned corn typically enjoyed during the winter months pales in comparison to the sweet flavour of fresh summer corn on the cob.

Corn Varieties

There are dozens of sweet corn varieties grown for eating on the cob. It’s a uniquely North American treat – Europeans grow corn for animal feed and cornmeal but don’t usually eat it off the cob. Some common varieties include Peaches & Cream, Silver Queen and Argent. The kernels can vary in colour from yellow to bi-coloured and white, depending on the type. Look for cobs with well-formed, tight kernels that appear fresh. If there are signs of bugs or the kernels look dry, don’t buy it. Corn should be used as soon as possible after harvesting as its sweetness decreases quickly after it’s been picked.

Roasting Corn

Roasting corn enhances its natural sweetness even further and adds a delicious charred flavour to the kernels. To roast four cobs of corn:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove the corn husks including all the silk and break off any long stems. Pour 2 teaspoons of olive oil or neutral oil such as canola over the corn and rub cobs so they are evenly coated with oil. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and fresh ground pepper. Roast for 12 minutes and turn cobs over with tongs or a fork. Roast for another 12 to 13 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.

This dish can be served warm or at room temperature, making it ideal for casual summer entertaining. Be sure to use fresh herbs instead of dried for maximum flavour. One medium ear of corn typically yields between ½ to ¾ cup of kernels.

Corn with Red Peppers and Herbs

Makes 4 servings (1 cob per person)

  • 4 cobs roasted corn (see above for roasting instructions)
  • 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ cup diced red pepper (cut dice about the size of corn kernels)
  • 8 medium sized fresh sage leaves, torn into large pieces
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh tarragon
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes

Directions:

  1. Cut roasted corn from the cobs. To do this, hold cob upright in a large bowl with the stem end down. Using a sharp knife, carefully cut the corn off in a downward motion, moving around the cob until all kernels are removed. Set corn kernels aside and discard cobs.
  2. Heat butter in a skillet on medium-high heat. Once butter has melted, add diced red pepper, sage, thyme, tarragon and red pepper flakes. Reduce heat to medium low and sauté for about 5 minutes, until butter begins to brown and the herbs become crispy. Watch carefully so the butter does not burn.
  3. Add roasted corn kernels. Stir until corn is coated with butter and heat through for about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serving suggestion: This dish easily becomes a first course or main course with the addition of grilled shrimp or pan seared scallops. Top each serving with the seafood and freshly ground pepper. It can also be added to cooked pasta to make an elegant vegetarian dish. Choose fresh flat pasta, such as fettuccine or linguine.