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GOOD COOKING

Salad as Corny as a Summer's Day

August 31, 1995|ABBY MANDEL

The less you do to good fresh corn, the better. I like to boil it in sugared water, spread it with unsalted butter and season it with salt and pepper. But there are many other ways to incorporate seasonal corn into your meals.

I'm not talking about just adding it to muffins, salads, pastas, casseroles, stir-fries and soups--I'm talking about using it raw. Fresh sweet corn kernels require no cooking; in fact, their crunchy texture is best uncooked. The following recipes use raw corn (leftover cooked corn can be used if you have it on hand).

The best way to cut kernels off of the cob is to break or cut the cob in half after the husk and silk have been removed. The half-cobs are much easier to handle; each has a stable base to stand on and the surface to be cut is a more reasonable size. Use a sharp knife, slicing from the top to the bottom.

POTLUCK SUCCOTASH SALAD WITH BLACK BEANS Summer allows cooks to take liberties with dishes like this one, which bears little resemblance to a traditional succotash save for the corn, lima beans and tomatoes. It is a sustaining and refreshing party salad that requires no cooking and can be assembled quickly. Frozen lima beans have already been blanched; rinsing with hot tap water softens them just enough. Serve with cold meats, fried chicken, glazed baked ham or an array of other salads; it holds up very well on a buffet table.

1 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels, cut from 2 medium-large cobs

1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed, drained

1 (10-ounce) package frozen baby lima beans, thawed, rinsed with hot water, drained

2 large tomatoes, seeded, cut into 1/3-inch dice

3 large green onions, sliced thin

1/4 cup minced cilantro

1 tablespoon oil

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon honey

1/2 large jalapeno, seeded if desired, minced

6 tablespoons lime juice

2 small ribs celery, cut into small dice

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon hot sauce

Combine corn, black beans, lima beans, tomatoes, green onions, cilantro, oil, garlic, honey, jalapeno, lime juice, celery, salt and hot sauce in large mixing bowl. Gently toss to mix well. Adjust seasoning and hot sauce as needed. Can be made a day ahead and refrigerated, covered airtight.

To serve, mix well, drain off any excess liquid and adjust seasonings. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Makes 8 to 10 servings.

Each of 8 servings contains about:

170 calories; 102 mg sodium; 0 cholesterol; 3 grams fat; 31 grams carbohydrates; 9 grams protein; 2.28 grams fiber.

CORNY CAKES

These cakes are great topped at breakfast with warm maple syrup, accompanied by bacon, fried ham or sausage. They can also make a great supper or lunch with a salad of mixed greens, and if you make the cakes small, they are excellent appetizers. Cook them on a griddle or bake in an oven; the latter is easier when cooking for a crowd. Instant masa is available in the baking section of specialty food stores and in Latino grocery stores.

1/2 cup instant masa

1/2 cup warm water

1/2 cup cake flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

3 cups fresh corn kernels, cut from about 4 medium-large cobs

1 (8-ounce) carton low-fat plain yogurt

1 tablespoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 large egg plus 1 large egg white

3 tablespoons oil

Warm maple syrup

Combine masa and warm water in large mixing bowl. Add cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, corn kernels, yogurt, sugar, salt, egg and egg white and 2 tablespoons oil. Mix well.

To cook on griddle, heat 1 teaspoon oil on non-stick griddle over medium heat. When hot, pour scant 1/4-cup measures for each cake. Cook until bubbly on top, about 3 minutes. Turn over and brown other side, about 3 more minutes. Keep cooked cakes warm in 200-degree oven while cooking remaining cakes, adding oil to griddle as needed.

To cook in oven, preheat generously oiled baking sheets at 425 degrees until very hot, about 10 minutes. Use a scant 1/4 cup batter for each cake. Bake until bubbly on top and well-browned on bottom, about 5 minutes. Turn over and brown other side, about 3 more minutes. Reverse baking sheets if cakes are baking unevenly.

Serve warm with warm maple syrup.

* Variation: Add minced 1/2 jalapeno pepper (seeded, if desired) and 2 minced large green onions to batter. Cook as instructed above. When cakes have been turned, sprinkle 1 tablespoon shredded Monterey Jack or Cheddar cheese on each (you will need 1 cup shredded cheese for the whole recipe). Cover griddle for remaining 3 minutes or bake cakes, uncovered, for 3 minutes more. Garnish each cake with cilantro leaves and a dollop of salsa.

Makes 14 to 16 (4-inch diameter) cakes.

Each of 14 cakes contains about:

100 calories; 97 mg sodium; 15 mg cholesterol; 4 grams fat; 14 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams protein; 0.24 gram fiber.

FARMER'S PAELLA WITH CORN

2 teaspoons oil

1 large red onion, minced

2 large cloves garlic, minced

1 cup basmati rice

2 1/4 to 2 1/2 cups vegetable stock

3/4 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes

2 small zucchini, cut into 1/3-inch dice

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