What To Make With Sweet Corn: 3 Unique Summer Recipes

When friends ask about my favorite foods, my answer changes with the season. In August, the answer is corn, and I enjoy it as often as possible in any form.

What's in Season in Summer: Tomatoes, Peaches, Peppers and More

One of summer's greatest pleasures is grilled corn. As it turns out, there are two ways to grill corn: in and out of the husk.

To cook corn in the husk, first do your best to extract the silk from whole ears, taking care to keep the husk intact. After a soak in cool water, the ears can be roasted over a gas or charcoal grill, turning often until the husks are beautifully charred, about 30 minutes. The interior will taste of smoke and sweetness. Be sure to roast at least two per guest — nobody will eat just one.

Grilling shucked ears adds char directly to the kernels and takes a mere 15 minutes on the grill. This is my preferred method when sprinkling the kernels over salads or adding them to sautés and stir-fries.

But the joys of corn don't have to be limited to late summer. You can make frozen corn (grilled or raw) to enjoy after the season ends by freezing corn kernels in a shallow layer on a baking sheet until the corn is solid. Then spoon it into freezer bags or containers and freeze for up to four months. An average-size ear of corn yields about 1 cup of corn kernels, so plan your freezing accordingly.

If you're new to enjoying fresh ears of corn off the cob, it's important to know how to cut the kernels off the cob safely. First, stand the cob up in a large bowl holding it at the top with one hand. Starting at the top, use a sharp knife to cut the kernels from the cob, working your way down. Turn the cob and repeat the cutting until the cob is clean.

What to do with all that corn? You can cook it in a skillet — corn and bacon pair as perfectly as peanut butter and jelly. Add ripe tomatoes and lots of basil for a skillet full of goodness that pleases just about everyone. Serve it over lettuce leaves as a side dish to grilled fish, chicken or skewered shrimp. You can also stir in sautéed chunks of tofu or feta to turn this into a main dish.

In another classic combo, I love corn and lima beans in a summery succotash. Here, the corn gets grilled along with sweet onion and tender napa cabbage. Shelled edamame makes a more contemporary version of the old-time dish, but we don't pass up lima beans when we can find baby limas in the freezer case. Crumbled fresh cheese or a drizzle of heavy cream enriches the dish.

Sweet corn ice cream always brings back memories of a family vacation in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. We ordered it sprinkled with hot chile and lime. The surprising combination is as addicting as the sweet and salty duo of cheese popcorn and caramel corn, making this one of the things every foodie should have on their summer bucket list.

Bacon, Basil and Tomato Skillet Corn

The flavors of a BLT merge with peak-of-the-season corn in this colorful, flavorful side. If there ever was a recipe that screamed SUMMER, this is it.

For the Bacon, Basil and Tomato Skillet Corn recipe, click here.

Warm Grilled Corn and Edamame Succotash

You can make this recipe with lima beans, as is traditional, but edamame gives the dish a slightly more modern feel. Served warm and packed with grilled corn and shredded Napa cabbage, this succotash is a fabulous vegetarian summer side dish.

For the Warm Grilled Corn and Edamame Succotash recipe, click here.

Sweet Corn and Maple Ice Cream

Corn ice cream? You betcha. This recipe complements the natural sweetness of the veggie with maple syrup for an unusual but super summery and delicious no-bake dessert.

For the Sweet Corn and Maple Ice Cream recipe, click here.