Corn made its debut at the farmer’s market this week. While it’s not yet at its best, I love fresh corn so I couldn’t resist buying a few ears. Corn, while not that beneficial from a nutrition perspective (low fat, but high carb), is a great summer vegetable for a busy person to have on hand. You can give it a quick boil for a simple corn on the cob. You can get a little fancier by spreading on an herb butter, wrapping it in foil and roasting it; or you can get more labor intensive by shaving it off the cob and incorporating it into a pasta salad. The next few posts will provide recipes illustrating some of these options.
Let’s start with the most involved, but most interesting option – a fresh corn salad. This recipe calls for a bit of prep work, but, in the end, you have a light but filling salad. The sweetness of the corn is tempered by the intense flavors of cilantro and garlic. With the inclusion of black beans, peppers, and feta, this salad takes relatively low nutrition corn and marries it with protein, dairy and antioxidants. I eat this salad as a main course since it covers so much nutritional ground and is filling. However, it would make an excellent companion to any grilled meat.
Orzo and Corn Summer Salad
(serves 4-6 as a side dish).
For the Pesto
1 bunch Cilantro
1/4 cup Olive Oil
1-2 cloves Garlic
Salt and Pepper (to taste)
1-2 dashes fresh Lime Juice
For the Salad
1 cup Orzo
1 ear fresh Corn on the cob
1/2 -1 large Red Bell Pepper
1/2-1 large Orange Bell Pepper
1/2-1 cup Tomatoes (preferably Cherry tomatoes), diced
1 can (15 oz.) Black Beans, unsalted
1-2 Tbsp. Cilantro Pesto
1 Tbsp. Fresh Basil, chopped (optional)
Salt and Pepper to taste
Crumbled Feta or Grated Cheddar Cheese to taste (optional)
1. To make the cilantro pesto, separate the cilantro leaves from the stems and place oil, garlic, and cilantro leaves in a blender or food processor. Blend until the mixture reaches the consistency of a rough paste. Add a dash or two of fresh lime juice, to taste. Add salt and Pepper to taste. Cover pesto and set aside. Pesto can be stored in refrigerator for about a week.
2. To make the Orzo, heat a pot of water (about 3 cups) to a boil. Add 1 tbsp salt to the water. Add Orzo and boil for 8-10 minutes until soft but not mushy (slightly softer than al dente). Drain the water from the Orzo and rinse the Orzo in cold water until the Orzo is cold (this will stop any residual cooking). Drain off any excess water, place the Orzo in a bowl, mix in a dash of Olive Oil, cover and set aside.
3. Shuck the corn. Wash and dry the corn. Using a sharp knife, shave the corn kernels off the cob. Saute the kernels in a small saute pan with a little butter until the kernels soften but are still firm (about 3-4 minutes). Add salt and pepper to taste and set aside to cool.
4. Finely and uniformly (if possible) chop the peppers and tomatoes and mix together in a bowl. Set the bowl aside.
5. Open the can of beans. Wash and drain the beans. Briefly saute the beans with a little salt and pepper (about 1-2 minutes) and set aside to cool.
6. In a large bowl, mix together the Orzo, cooled corn, tomato/pepper mixture and cooled beans. Add cilantro and basil and mix gently. Add salt and pepper to taste.
7. Serve with cheddar or feta sprinkled on top, if using. Excess can be stored covered in the refrigerator for about a week. I wouldn’t recommend trying to freeze it.