Part of the fun of modern scratch living is jazzing up old favourites through new flavour twists and updated presentations.
Case in point: sweet corn. I love corn, and there are many recipes here at Urban Cottage Life that feature it. Is there anything better than corn on the cob on a summer day, especially eaten outdoors at a picnic table? For years, I made this in the simplest of ways: boiled corn slathered in butter with a generous sprinkling of salt and freshly ground pepper. Bring on the napkins and dental floss!
Then I started to kick up the flavour of corn on the cob by grilling it with spiced oil and adding herbs and cheese for a Mexican-inspired treat.
But you know, good as it is, corn on the cob isn’t always the best choice for every meal. Let’s face it, it’s messy and it takes two hands. So, I started to play with the idea of transforming that grilled, seasoned corn into a side dish. But then my mind, busy place that it is, jumped to using it as an appetizer. And that’s how I ended up with what I’m calling a salsa for lack of a better term at the moment. Spooned onto corn chips, each bite is a perfect taste of summer with Mexican flair.
Mexican-Inspired Grilled Corn Salsa
If you’re making classic boiled corn or spicy grilled corn, why not make a few extra cobs for this salsa? If not, no worries — it’s no big deal to make this dish from scratch, which I did yesterday just before some cousins were due to visit. A word about the flavour profile: use a little more lime juice than you think is necessary; when eaten with the tortilla chips, the acidity of the lime won’t seem as strong. This is a ‘freestyle kitchen’ post: not so much a recipe as just the story of how I noodled around to make this.
The yield will vary, depending on the size of the corn cobs, etc., but I ended up with about 2-1/4 cups yesterday.
Put no more than an inch of water into a large heavy pot and set it over high heat to boil, covered. Pre-heat the griddle pan on your stove to medium high (you could also use the barbecue). Husk and trim three ears of corn (I’d love to make this recipe with an all-yellow corn that’s less sweet than the peaches and cream variety which was all I could find). Place the corn in the pot, turn the heat to medium and let it cook for about eight minutes, covered.
While the corn is cooking, make a seasoned oil with 1 tablespoon of good olive oil, 1 teaspoon paprika, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper,1/4 teaspoon dried oregano and 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin (OR keep things easier by using 1-3/4 teaspoons of chili powder — I couldn’t find mine in my post-move kitchen). Add a few turns of the pepper grinder and whisk everything together with a fork.
Finely chop half a cooking onion and one red chili pepper, as well as a generous handful of cilantro (or less if you prefer).
When the corn is done cooking, remove to a plate and brush with the oil mixture. Oil the griddle lightly (I used grapeseed oil). Place the corn cobs on the griddle, and let them sizzle away, turning from time to time until many of the kernels are nicely browned (they won’t all touch the surface of the pan, but don’t worry about it). Remove the corn to a large shallow bowl.
Add the onion and chili pepper to the grill pan. Stir frequently for a few minutes, until the onion is translucent and starting to brown, then remove with a spatula and set aside in a small bowl.
Cut the kernels off the corn cobs into the large bowl. Add in the grilled onion and chili pepper, a good sprinkling of kosher or sea salt and more pepper. Stir well. Add at least 1/4 cup of crumbled feta cheese, the chopped cilantro and the juice of half a lime. Toss everything together, then taste and adjust the seasonings and lime juice as needed (see note in header).
To present, you can either place the corn salsa in a dish and corn chips in a bowl and let guests serve themselves, or prepare the salsa-adorned chips ahead of time like canapés. I used the “Unbeatable Blues” tortilla chips from Way Better Snacks, made with organic blue corn and a variety of sprouted, organic goodies. This is the brand of chips I’ve been buying lately for flavour and some nutritional goodness in my snacks.
DISCLAIMER: I’m talking about the Way Better Snacks tortilla chips simply because I like them so much; I’m not subject to any kind of agreement with them.