Fresh, in season corn is simply magnificent. I buy bags and bags of it at the farmers market, much of which I eat straight from the cob, some I cut off and freeze and of course, I adore corn pudding, like my fantastic Caramelized Corn Pudding. I’ve blended it in to biscuits, stirred it into risotto, sauced it for pasta. In fact, you can search corn in the search bar to the right for even more ideas. Last summer I created a big hit with my friends with Baked Queso Fresco with Fresh Corn. And that set me off in to exploring a whole different flavor profile for my beloved summer corn, with nods to Central and South America, adding some spice and zing. I won’t make any claims to authenticity of tradition, but trust me, the end result is delicious in any language.
Sweet fresh corn is brightened up with an herb blend reminiscent of South American Chimichurri sauce. Verdant herbs with a hit of spicy chili flakes and the pucker of vinegar make this a perfect way to use the abundance of summer corn and fresh herbs. Queso fresco maybe mixing my cuisines a little, but its salty tang perfectly complements the elements of this lovely seasonal dish – you could use feta in a pinch. I serve this generally as a side dish to a perfect summer meal (grilled steak is a particularly good combo), but you could certainly scoop it up with corn chips or tortillas.
Chimichurri Corn Casserole
1 clove garlic
2 green onions
¼ cup flat leaf parsley
¼ cup cilantro
2 Tablespoon oregano leaves
Pinch of chili flakes
1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 (8 ounce) block cream cheese, room temperature
¼ cup butter, room temperature
½ cup whole milk
4 ounces queso fresco, finely crumbled
Kernels cut from 6 ears of corn (about 4 cups)
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
- Drop the green onions and garlic in a food processor (a mini works well) and pulse to break up. Tear the parsley, cilantro and oregano leaves into pieces and add to the processor and pulse until finely chopped, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Blend in the chili flakes to taste and the red wine vinegar.
- Meanwhile, cut the butter and cream cheese into pieces and melt in a skillet (an ovenproof version is convenient). When the cheese is melted, pour in the milk and whisk until everything is smooth. Sprinkle in most of the queso fresco and whisk to melt. Stir in the corn kernels until combined and coated in the cream cheese mixture. Stir in the reserved herb chimichurri mixture until evenly distributed and combined. Remove from the heat and stir in the last little bit of queso fresco. The casserole can be made several hours ahead at this point and refrigerated. If you didn’t use an ovenproof skillet, transfer to a baking dish. When ready to serve, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and bake the casserole for 20 – 30 minutes until heated through and bubbly. Serve immediately.