Thursday, September 2, 2010

Corn, Zucchini & Sweet Pepper Saute

I came up with this recipe this summer, partly because I wanted to do something different with the sweet local corn I buy at the farmers markets, and partly because my seven-year-old son has lost his front top teeth, making it difficult to eat an ear of corn. This side dish has become a new favorite. I've made it numerous times at home, I've made it for friends and I even got my mother into making it. It has a very nice sweet and fresh flavor.

Cutting fresh uncooked corn off the cob is messy but it's so worth it. Here's how I handle this chore: get a large bowl and a short but sharp knife. Shuck the corn, remove all the silk strings. Using one hand, hold the ear of corn standing up in the bowl and with the other hand using the sharp knife, cut the kernels off, slashing straight down, rotating the cob until you get all the corn cut off. The kernels will fall down into the bowl where you want them. It's still kind of messy, you'll have corn juice all over you hands, but it's better than having corn kernels all over you kitchen counter tops, corn juice splattered all over (that was my scenario the first time I made this.)

The picture above is of the ingredients given below; I grew banana peppers this year in my garden and heirloom Italian zucchinis. The zuc variety known as Mexican squash is very tasty in this too. Feel free to change things up a bit to make things as colorful as you like. I've made this dish with a large red bell pepper with a dark green zucchini and the colors were amazing. It would be fun with a chocolate bell pepper too. Use what you like best, any fresh sweet pepper will do.

Also note: I use my enameled cast iron dutch oven for everything, including this dish. If you don't have one, use a large pan or pot with a wide bottom. The point is to saute the vegetables, not steam them, so the larger the cooking surface, the better. If you use a small tall pot the veggies will end up stewing and steaming in their own juices, giving you mush as a side dish; not at all what you're going for here. Cooked perfectly, it should be crisp yet tender.

Serves 4

2 ears of fresh sweet local corn
1 medium zucchini, chopped
2 large sweet banana peppers, chopped with seeds and membranes removed
2-4 Tbsp butter (you could do half butter and half olive oil if you prefer)

Heat your pan, pot or dutch oven over med-high heat until hot. Add the butter. When melted, add all three vegetables.

Saute, stirring with a wooden spoon, for about 5-7 minutes. Corn will start to glisten, the zucchini will be just to the tender but still intact stage, and the pepper will still have some crunch. Give it a taste to check the doneness.

Sprinkle with salt and pepper if desired.