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Create new taste traditions for spring holidays

Traditional dishes that are enjoyed year after year are part of every holiday celebration. While some foods will never be voted off the table, there is always room to expand upon your menu without the added stress in the kitchen.

This Easter, one easy way to shake up your menu is by serving dishes prepared with fresh supersweet corn. Spring crops of corn are at their peak and are guaranteed to please even the pickiest eaters in the bunch.

An easy way to enjoy fresh sweet corn is to add a platter of corn on the cob to the table for everyone to grab. There also are many creative ways to enjoy fresh corn, abundant in your local supermarket, that not only taste delicious, but are easy to prepare. This means less time in the kitchen and more fun with loved ones.

For starters, begin the meal with a fresh corn and vegetable salad made with avocado, radishes and tomatoes. The flavors and textures offer a new twist to the traditional green salad. Supersweet corn and couscous packets provide a versatile option to satisfy vegetarian guests, or an alternative side to scalloped potatoes. Fresh corn can be oven-steamed in foil packets with other vegetables and spices for a light, yet flavorful dish.

If you’re contributing dessert, add sweet corn pudding to the holiday table. It can be baked ahead of time and heated before serving. Topped with fresh macerated strawberries, it delivers an unexpected sweet, creamy finish.

It doesn’t stop there. Supersweet corn will freshen up leftovers in a hearty corn chowder made with ham and potatoes. What better way to enjoy the flavors of the holiday a little longer without the added hassle of preparing a meal from scratch?

As a bonus, corn is a good source of vitamin C, thiamin and folic acid. It also contains the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin – all important to include before those Easter baskets filled with goodies get gobbled up!

The spring corn crop from Florida, the leading grower of fresh sweet corn, is in season through Memorial Day. To preserve its freshness, make sure you put it in the refrigerator as soon as you get it home. The corn will retain its crispness and sweet taste for up to one week.

For more information and a bounty of sweet corn recipes and serving ideas for any occasion, visit www.sweetfreshcorn.com.

Fresh Corn and Vegetable Salad

2 ears fresh supersweet corn
1 cup radishes cut in wedges
1 medium tomato, diced
1 ripe avocado, peeled and diced
1/2 cup bottled Italian dressing

Cut kernels from cobs (makes about 1-1/2 cups); place in a bowl with radishes, tomato, avocado and salad dressing; toss gently. Serve on a bed of lettuce, if desired.
YIELD: 4 cups

Supersweet Corn and Couscous Packets

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1-1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
1-1/3 cups dry unflavored couscous
1 teaspoon ground cumin
4 ears fresh supersweet corn, cut through the cob in 1-inch pieces
4 cups sliced mushrooms (about 1 pound)
1 red bell pepper cut in 1-inch squares
1 small onion, thinly sliced onion
1/2 cup chopped pitted black olives (optional)

Preheat oven to 450 F. From a roll of heavy duty foil, tear off four 14 x 18-inch sheets; set aside. In a medium saucepan, combine 2 cups water, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt; bring to a boil. Stir in couscous; cover and let stand for 5 minutes; fluff with a fork. In a medium bowl, toss the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, 1 teaspoon salt, the cumin with the corn, mushrooms, bell pepper, onion and olives. On each of the foil sheets, place a quarter of the corn mixture in the center, top each with couscous. Draw together longer edges of foil and crimp, leaving room for steam to circulate; seal foil ends. Place packets in a single layer on a large baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven; let stand 5 minutes then open carefully to avoid steam.
YIELD: 4 portions

Fresh Sweet Corn Dessert Pudding

6 ears fresh supersweet corn
4 large eggs
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup sugar
4 tablespoons melted butter
3 tablespoons flour
3 tablespoons mascarpone or sour cream
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon salt
Macerated Strawberries

Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter a 13 x 9 inch baking pan. Cut kernels from cobs to make about 4 cups; set aside 1 cup. In a large food processor container combine 3 cups of the corn kernels, eggs, cream, sugar, butter, flour, mascarpone, baking powder and salt. Whirl until smooth. Stir in remaining 1 cup corn kernels. Pour into a buttered baking dish. Bake until top turns golden brown, 45 to 50 minutes. Let stand 15 minutes. Serve warm, topped with Macerated Strawberries.
YIELD: 10 to 12 portions

Macerated Strawberries:
Slice 1 pound of strawberries and place in a bowl. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons sugar; cover and set aside for 30 minutes. Refrigerate up to 1 day.

Hearty Sweet Fresh Corn Chowder

4 ears fresh supersweet corn
4 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, minced
5 whole potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 cups milk (soy or whole milk)
1 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons cornstarch
2 cups cooked ham, chopped
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

In a large pot, melt the butter over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook till tender. Stir in the potatoes, cook for 5 minutes. Add the milk, water, and salt. Bring to a boil, lower heat, cover and simmer covered until the potatoes are tender. Cut kernels from cob to make about 2 cups. Stir in corn and ham. Whisk the cornstarch into the corn liquid, and add to the soup. Simmer covered until soup is thickened.
YIELD: 8 portions

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