by Erin Marissa Russell
Corn is one of the most ancient symbols humans have used to invoke and symbolize nature’s bounty. As one of the crops people in Central and North America first relied on, corn was even associated with deities, mostly female fertility goddesses. Some native people in what is now the southeast United States use a ceremonial Green Corn Dance to thank spirits for the food the earth has provided. It only makes sense that if you put in the time and effort of planting and cultivating corn on your land, you’ll be rewarded with a heaping harvest, leaving you plenty to share and more than you may want to eat straight off the cob (delicious as fresh corn on the cob may be). Read on, and we’ll advise you how to prepare the corn you grow in ways that will make your family thrilled to see it on the table.
Elotes or Esquites
On or off the cob, Mexican street-style corn is an always-welcome spin on this delicious vegetable. Simply slather your corn with mayonnaise, cotija cheese, cilantro, lime, and hot sauce—or follow the directions in one of the recipes below. On the cob, corn prepared this way is called elotes, while in an off-the-cob salad, it’s called esquites.
Elote (Mexican Street Corn) Avocado Toast
Esquites with Crab
Mexican Corn Elote Grain Bowl (featuring chicken, quinoa, arugula, and cabbage mixed with homemade dressing)
Mexican Street Corn Pasta Salad
Corn and Italian food aren’t the most instinctive pairing for many chefs, but a corn risotto combines the best of both elements for a sophisticated-seeming dish that’s surprisingly easy to make. The slowly cooked rice becomes silky in a broth flavored with the corn, cheese, and other ingredients, creating complex layers of flavor that combine in an absolute corn celebration. Serve bowls of corn risotto to your family and watch them tuck in. One of these recipes will show you how to make it happen.
Creamy Corn-Mushroom Risotto
Creamy Corn and Basil Orzotto (This recipe swaps out the rice for orzo pasta, resulting in faster prep and a slightly different taste and texture, but you can alter it if you have your heart set on the more standard rice.)
Mexican Cheesy Corn Risotto with Cilantro
Pan-Roasted Corn Risotto
Sweet Corn Risotto with Herbes de Provence
Summer Corn Risotto with Shrimp
Sweet Corn, Tomato, and Basil Risotto Cakes
Whether you serve these flat corn fritters, a traditional dish from Colombia and Venezuela, topped with other ingredients or split and stuffed like sandwiches, they’re sure to be a hit. Arepas are reminiscent of Mexican gorditas or Salvadoran pupusas, and in their simplest form, they take just three ingredients to make. The cornmeal-like base of the arepas cake, harina precocida, is made of corn, but the recipes below feature fresh corn as well.
Arepas de Choclo (Sweet Corn Arepas)
Arepas de Choclo con Quesito (Colombian Corn Cakes with Fresh Cheese)
Cheesy Corn Arepas with Roasted Red Pepper Salsa
Sweet Corn Arepas with Tomato Corn Salsa
This old-fashioned way to prepare corn is both delicious and affordable. It’s also a versatile dish that makes a perfect accompaniment to a table heaped with summertime favorites, such as barbecued brisket, macaroni and cheese, ribs, collard greens, and sliced tomatoes. The first recipe we’ve included here will guide you through the classic preparation, or explore the others for new takes on corn pudding.
Grandma’s Corn Pudding
12 Bones Smokehouse Famous Corn Pudding Recipe (featuring poblano peppers and a smoky-spicy seasoning blend)
Fall Corn Pudding with White Cheddar and Thyme
Texas Pete Roasted Corn Pudding (different from others for its inclusion of buffalo wing sauce, mushrooms, pepper jack cheese, and roasted red peppers)
Soup isn’t the first thing most of us reach for in the summer, but corn chowder has a mystically refreshing quality to it that the heat can’t beat. Besides, it’s also excellent served cold. Combine your corn fresh from the garden with potatoes, a creamy broth and fresh herbs for an appetizer or main dish that’s sure to please. As a bonus, this soup stands up to freezing like a champ, so make an extra batch or two to put away for busier days down the line. Your future self will thank you.
Tyler Florence’s Corn Chowder Recipe
Cajun Corn Chowder
Cheddar Corn Chowder with Bacon
Crock Pot Corn Chowder
Instant Pot Chipotle Cheddar Corn Chowder
Shrimp and Bacon Corn Chowder
Corn and Pasta
Shake things up and partner fresh corn sliced off the cob onto mounds of delicious and filling pasta. If you haven’t tried this duo before, it’s sure to become a favorite. The recipes we’ll share next come in a spectrum of flavors and ingredients, so pick the one that makes most sense with what you have in your cupboard and your family’s specific palates—or go basic with the first link for buttered corn and noodles.
Buttered Corn and Noodles
Creamed Corn Pasta with Fried Herbs
Creamy Corn Mac and Cheese
Creamy Corn Pasta with Bacon and Scallions
Creamy Ricotta Corn and Tomato Baked Ziti
Fresh Corn Carbonara
Lemon-Pepper Corn Pasta
Sweet Corn Cacio e Pepe
Sweet Corn Pasta with Goat Cheese
Salad is often the star of the summertime table, and adding corn to your salads is a surefire way to jazz things up. Whether you’re creating a leafy green dinner salad, indulgent pasta salad, or a heartier grain-based salad dish, one of the recipes below is sure to inspire you on how corn can help bring it all together.
Amagansett Raw Corn, Tomato, and Snap Pea Salad
Charred Corn Red Pepper Farro Salad
Corn and Pasta Salad with Homemade Ranch Dressing
Corn Salad with Caramelized Onion, Bacon, & Cilantro
Corn, Tomato, and Avocado Pasta Salad
Creamy Corn & Pea Pasta Salad
Dilled, Crunchy Sweet-Corn Salad with Buttermilk Dressing
Farro and Corn Salad Recipe
Grilled Corn & Zucchini Salad with Sundried Tomato Vinaigrette
Ina Garten’s Fresh Corn Salad
Mexican Avocado and Corn Quinoa Salad
Sweet Corn & Arugula Panzanella (Tuscan chopped salad featuring bread and tomatoes)
Dressed-Up Corn on the Cob
Sometimes the simplest pleasures are the best. Once your family’s eaten their fill of plain corn on the cob, you can continue to take advantage of its easy prep and versatility on the table. Try corn on the cob with one of these sauces, rubs, or other additions and you may find a new favorite.
Bacon and Basil Wrapped Corn
Corn on the Cob with Garlic Butter
Corn on the Cob with Lime-Chive Butter
Down Home Milk & Honey Corn on the Cob
Grilled Corn with Herb Butter
Grilled Jalapeno-Lime Corn on the Cob
Parmesan Corn on the Cob
As you probably already know, corn you’ve grown yourself is a whole different vegetable from corn you get at the grocery store. You can still taste the sunshine in freshly picked corn, which means no matter how you choose to prepare it, your homegrown corn will be the star of the summertime table.
Want to learn more ways to use corn?