It's corn season! Here's what to do with fresh ears
Try summery tomato-corn pie with biscuit crust or a vegetarian option, corn 'ribs'
Late summer means corn is in season across Canada, and though 96 per cent of our country's crop is grown in Ontario and Quebec, we have beautiful corn growing across Alberta.
These days, it's not an option to pick ears out of the bin and peel back the husk to inspect a cob before buying it. But we can still gauge freshness by sight.
Look for silky tassels that have some moisture, and aren't dry and brittle, and ensure the husk is green and tight, not starting to yellow and get dry on the edges.
The key with all corn bought on the cob is to cook and eat it quickly — the natural sugars in corn begin to convert to starch immediately after it's picked, so the faster you get it onto the table, the better.
To freeze corn, scrape it off the cob and freeze raw in a zip-lock bag, or go an extra step and blanch the cobs in a pot of boiling water for 2-3 minutes first, which will give them a better texture, and work well if you plan to add them directly to salads or grainy bowls.
- Listen to Julie Van Rosendaal's full interview on the Calgary Eyeopener below for pantry staples and tricks for when you're missing an ingredient.
If you're looking for some new ways to enjoy corn while it's at its peak, this summery tomato-corn pie with a biscuit crust is fantastic. Cobs cut into "ribs" is also a great vegetarian option for the grill.
While these are topped with chilli-spiked crema, feta and chives, the seasoning potential is virtually endless.
I first saw corn on the cob cut into "ribs" on chef Yotam Ottolenghi's Instagram feed. The ears are cut lengthwise, then cooked in a hot skillet or on the grill until charred and slightly curled, to eat in much the same way as you'd nibble ribs off the bone.
Corn cobs are tough to cut. I found it easier to cut them in half crosswise, use the thicker stem ends for another use (cook them on their own, or scrape off the kernels to use in a tomato-corn pie or other dish), and cut the thinner tapered ends lengthwise to make ribs.
- Corn on the cob.
- Oil (optional).
- Mayo or sour cream.
- Chili powder (or other seasonings).
- Crumbled or grated feta, queso fresco or cotija cheese.
- Chopped chives or cilantro chili oil (optional).
Carefully cut the cobs in half crosswise, then lengthwise—you may find it easier to cut the thinner ends, and save the thicker ones for another use.
Cook them in a hot skillet, in a drizzle of oil, or directly on the grill (no oil required) for 5 minutes or so, until the kernels are charred on the edges and the pieces of corn curl slightly.
In a small dish, stir some chili powder and a pinch of salt into a large spoonful of mayonnaise or sour cream, and use it to brush over the grilled corn.
Sprinkle with crumbled feta, queso fresco or cotija cheese, chopped chives or cilantro, and a drizzle of chili oil, if you like.
Tomato-Corn Pie in a Biscuit Crust
This fantastic savoury pie originated in the late Laurie Colwin's book Home Cooking, and was made current-day famous by Gourmet magazine and the Smitten Kitchen recipe website.
The original recipe advises to blanch and peel the tomatoes, then drain their excess juice.
I don't bother peeling them but thinly slice varieties that aren't overly juicy, like romas and summer heirloom varieties.
If you like, slice and set them in a colander or on paper towels to get rid of some excess juice before layering them in the pie.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour.
- 1 tbsp. baking powder.
- ½ tsp. salt.
- 1/3 cup cold butter, grated or cut into pieces
- ¾ cup milk.
- 1/3 cup mayonnaise.
- 2 tbsp. lemon juice.
- 1 garlic clove, crushed.
- 1½ lb. Roma or other not-too-juicy ripe tomatoes.
- 2 cups corn, cut from the cob (2 ears).
- 2 tbsp. chopped fresh basil.
- 1 tbsp. chopped chives.
- Salt and pepper, to taste.
- 2 cups grated aged cheddar
- Milk or cream, for brushing (optional).
Preheat the oven to 400 F.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the butter and blend it with a fork or rub it in with your fingers.
Add the milk and stir by hand just until you have a soft dough. Divide the dough in half (I make one half slightly larger than the other) and roll the larger piece on a lightly floured countertop to about an 11-inch round. Transfer to a pie plate and gently fit it inside without stretching.
In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, lemon juice and garlic. Slice the tomatoes about ¼-inch thick. If you like, salt them and let them drain in a colander or on paper towels for 20 minutes or so to get rid of excess liquid.
Arrange half of the tomatoes in the bottom crust, overlapping them, and top with half the corn, half the basil and chives, a sprinkle of salt and pepper and half the grated cheese. Repeat with remaining tomatoes, corn, basil, chives, salt and pepper.
Pour the lemony mayonnaise overtop and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.
Roll out the other piece of dough into a 10-inch circle and fit it over the filling, folding the overhang under edge of bottom crust (or vice versa) and pinching/crimping to seal around the edge, or press it all around with a fork. It doesn't have to be perfect.
Cut a couple vents in the top crust to help let some steam escape and, if you like, brush the crust with a bit of milk, cream or melted butter.
Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the pie is deep golden.
Serve warm, or cool to room temperature.