Corn off the cob

Nothing else quite says “Summer is here!” like corn does.

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Corn starts showing up in Florida and Georgia in June, and moves up the coast until it arrives on the Vineyard in late July. Corn says Summer is here! And it makes me nostalgic for every summer of my life.

As much as I love this hand-held summer superstar steamed or grilled, a little effort goes a long way in creating a more substantial summer side. I love cutting corn right off the cob, getting chunky clumps of corn kernels that I then lightly sauté — this brings out a bold sweetness. Sautéing tends to brighten the corn, and it holds up well on its own or tossed with other ingredients.

Corn tips

  • Please don’t open any ear of corn at the market looking for perfection. You can feel if it is a big intact fat ear. Corn holds up best cold and in its own packaging, the husk. 
  • As soon as corn begins to warm, the sugars break down and corn gets starchy. I call it cow corn. Tearing open for a peak exposes and warms the cob, and you are ruining it for everyone.
  • To slice, hold the pointed stalk end in your hand like a handle, with the flat end on a clean cutting surface. Slice corn off the cob starting about halfway down, holding firmly running a knife down the cob.  Go around the cob, then turn over to get the other half.
  • When sautéing, do not overcook. As soon as the corn darkens from its yellow-milky tone to a darker shiny kernel it is done. Remove from heat and to stop the cooking process, spread out on a sheet pan, and refrigerate just to cool. 

Corn, Red Cabbage, and Cilantro Slaw
Serves 8

A fresh crunchy slaw perfect for summer cookouts or that flavorful crunch to fish tacos. Also, chances are you can find all the vegetables local this time of year.

½ cup extra virgin olive oil
4 cups freshly shucked corn, kernels cut off
¾ cup scallions, sliced thin on a bias
⅓ cup cider vinegar
½ tsp. salt
black pepper
¼  teaspoon celery seed
½ tsp. cumin
1 Tbsp. sugar
4 cups shaved red cabbage
¾ cup cilantro leaves, large chop
3 cups arugula

Heat a large pan, add 3 tablespoons olive oil, saving the rest for the slaw. Follow sautéeing tips above. When removing from heat, mix in scallions. Set to cool.

In a  medium bowl, combine vinegar with dry ingredients, mix well, whisk in olive oil. Mix in shredded cabbage, toss well. Add corn mixture, combine well, fold in arugula.

Corn,  Fingerling Potato, and Linguica Hash
Serves 8

This hash is great served with lighter fish such as bluefish, halibut, cod, or flounder. It is a great side to bring to a cookout. As leftovers, it is amazing for breakfast with a few poached or fried eggs on top.

3 cups fingerling potatoes, steamed and sliced in half. DO NOT overcook
3 Tbsp. olive oil
¾ lb. linguica sausage cut in half lengthwise, then sliced for moon-size pieces
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 cup red pepper, diced
4 cups corn off the cob, between 4-6 ears, shucked, kernels sliced off
1 cup sliced scallion, cut on a bias

Fill a saucepot with cold water. Add potatoes and some salt. Bring to a boil on high heat. Turn down a bit so it’s not boiling too hard — the fingerling potatoes are delicate. Boil for about 4 minutes and test for doneness. Depending on size, they cook quickly. When still firm, remove from heat, drain, and let cool on a sheet pan. Slice in half widthwise, down the middle on a bias.

In a large, heavy saucepot, heat olive oil on medium heat. Add sliced linguica and sauté for about five minutes, until some browning starts. Stir in diced onions and cook two minutes. Stir in red pepper and cook two minutes; then add corn and sauté, stirring all ingredients together. Gently add potatoes and scallions. Season with salt and pepper as needed. Cook for another five minutes, making sure all ingredients are combined, being careful not to crush the potatoes.

Corn, Tomato, and Basil Salad

This is a simple classic that is truly the epitome of summer: juicy cherry tomatoes, fragrant basil, and sweet corn. 

3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 shallots thinly sliced
4 cups corn off the cob
2  cups cherry tomatoes sliced in half
¾ cup basil, thinly sliced chiffonade

Heat a large saucepot, add olive oil, then shallots, and saute for about one minute. Add corn, combine well, and cook per cooking tips. While corn is cooling, slice cherry tomatoes in half. 

Add corn to a large bowl, add tomatoes, and basil. Gently combine, season to taste, and serve at room temperature.