Sweet corn was a welcome summer favorite at our home in the Midwest. I don’t know who was more excited about it, the raccoons or me. My furry friends were always on standby, holding a saltshaker in one paw and a stick of butter in the other. Like me, they would do almost anything for a fresh, sweet ear of corn.
The patient creatures would wait until late at night when the house was dark, under the stars they would self-serve our precious corn. Dinner was shared on the lawn with much enthusiasm and happy chatter. Merrily they shucked each ear, nibbling the corn a few rows at a time, just like me. When sweet corn is good, it is very, very good.
In truth those masked mischievous mammals were a menace, but in the end we were resigned to share our crop.
When looking for corn at the market, follow the raccoons lead.
- Look at the silk tassels sticking out at the top, it should be golden brown and slightly sticky. If the silk is dry or black, move on to the next ear.
- Make sure the husks are a good green color – if it is brown, leave it for another human.
- Feel each ear through the husk, it should feel plump in your paw hand.
Corn… Vegetable, Grain or a Fruit?
Corn seed is actually all three.
- Vegetable, because it is harvested for eating.
- Grain, because it is a dry seed of a grass species.
- Fruit, because that is the botanical definition.
So botanically speaking, today’s corn and tomato recipe is a fruit salad. No matter what you call it, this celebratory vegetable confetti salad travels well for picnics or potlucks. It is a perfect complement to chicken on the grill.
I grilled the corn on my stovetop over the gas flame. It produced a wonderful charred corn without heating up the backyard grill.
TIP: To cut the corn off the cob, I use a Bundt pan. It keeps the kernels from flying all over my kitchen.
- 5 large ears sweet corn
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
- ¼ cup thinly sliced fresh basil
- 4 plum tomatoes, seeded, chopped
- 3 tablespoons good quality balsamic vinegar
- Remove husks and silk from corn. Over a hot grill or an open gas-stove flame, char the corn until lightly blackened. Once charred, remove cob from heat, and when cool enough to handle, shave off kernels using a large knife.
- Heat 2 tablespoons oil in heavy large skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute. Add corn; sauté until just cooked through, about 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Transfer corn mixture to large bowl. Let cool. Stir in tomatoes and vinegar.
- Season with salt and pepper.
- Cover; chill 1 hour or up to 8 hours.
- Right before serving mix in basil.
- Corn always has an even number of rows on each ear.
- An ear of corn averages 800 kernels in 16 rows.
- There is one piece of silk for each kernel.
Quote of the Day
“Sex is good, but not as good as fresh, sweet corn.” Garrison Keillor
…and then, she paused for thought.