Wednesday, September 8, 2010

sautéed corn with garlic, basil, and parmesan

This recipe was inspired by a Saturday trip to the East Lake Farmer's Market last month (following our visit to Ruffner Mountain for "Breakfast with the Animals," where we were the only adults present who didn't have children in tow, and where we got to meet and pet a possum, a screech owl, a box turtle, and a corn snake). We came home excited, tired, and laden with a huge bag of local produce, which I ended up making into a vegetable plate - incidentally, one of my favorite things to have for a summer supper - including sautéed corn, quick pickles, oven fried okra, and black-eyed peas with onion and bacon.

I have made this dish on a half-dozen occasions since, always to rave reviews, and I can't help but feel a little guilty because it was totally serendipitous, simple, and thrown-together. But it ends up being surprisingly elegant and impressive looking. 

A couple of tips: it's fine to let the corn and onions get a bit golden and even a bit golden-brown, but do yourself a favor and don't let the garlic brown. Just clear a little space in the pan, melt a tiny pat of butter there, add the finely minced garlic, stir it a little into the pool of butter, and let it sit and cook for just a half-minute before you work it into the rest of the corn/onion mixture. It will be buttery and garlicky, and between that and the lemon zest and the basil, your kitchen will smell like heaven. Tip number two: be sure you use a very sharp knife when you cut the corn off the cob. Finally, it can be messy work, so if you have a porch, I recommend doing your cutting outside so that you can just let the kernels fly.

sautéed corn with garlic, basil, and parmesan

4 fresh ears of white corn, cut off the cob
2 or 3 tbsp. butter, divided
1 to 2 tbsp. olive oil
half of a white onion, minced (a couple of small shallots will work, too)
1 medium clove garlic, minced
5 or 6 large basil leaves, finely chopped
zest of one lemon
1/4 cup shaved Parmesan
coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Melt olive oil and 2 tbsp. butter over medium to medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté for 2 to 3 minutes until it's softened and light golden.

Add corn and toss in the butter, oil, and onion mixture until it's completely coated. Sauté corn and onion until it’s golden and caramelized, about 5 to 8 minutes.

Make a little space in the pan and melt the remaining 1/2 tbsp. butter, and then add garlic. Sauté just until fragrant, about 30 to 45 seconds.

Remove from heat and stir in the basil and lemon zest, as well as salt and pepper to taste. A minute or two before serving, add the Parmesan and toss just a little bit, so that it doesn’t melt too much and stays in little chunks.

P.S. For my vegan friends, I have a suspicion that this would be perfectly wonderful with just the olive oil and without the cheese. 

My dad says this corn should be illegal.

And a pic of the whole shebang:

I love me some vegetable plate.

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