Spring time is grilltime

As the evenings start to linger a little longer and winter’s chill becomes a more distant memory each day, there’s no better way to celebrate spring time than by getting out of the house and enjoying it.

Firing up the grill, whether you’re cooking for friends or family, is, without doubt, the best way to get your outdoor entertaining started. The smell of charcoal, the sizzle of grilled meats, and, of course, the grill’s favorite vegetable – fresh sweet corn on the cob – nothing else welcomes the season quite so pleasantly.

Fresh sweet corn is in season now, and available at your supermarket. If you buy it in the husk, put it straight onto the grill for a super easy and healthy vegetable side. Trim the silks and pull back the outer layers of husk to avoid flare-ups. The corn will steam beautifully in 7 to 10 minutes. If you prefer a fire-roasted flavor, try shucking the ears before brushing them lightly with oil and placing them directly on the grill. Or, if you buy them already husked but don’t like them charred, wrap ears in foil before adding them to the grill.

While fresh sweet corn is delicious all on its own, or simply slathered in butter and sprinkled with sea salt, there are plenty of ways to dress it up and pair it just perfectly with your main dishes.

Teriyaki is a great marinade for chicken and steak, so for some Asian inspiration, try Grilled Corn with Sesame-soy Sauce. This ingenious recipe uses the corn husk as a sort of envelope, sealing in the delicious flavor of soy, sesame and lime that brings out the corn’s natural sweetness.

Seasoned and grilled meats are fantastic taco fillings, and grilled corn salsa – spicy, crunchy and sweet – is a simple and delicious topping. Cutting corn kernels from the cob is a cinch with this easy technique, or if you would rather keep it on the cob try Mexican-style grilled corn. This authentic, simple and delicious spread rolls grilled corn in mayonnaise and tops it with fresh crumbled cotija cheese, fresh lime juice and a sprinkle of chili powder to make for a dangerously addictive combination.

Of course, if you want to keep things simple, you can try pairing an herbed butter with freshly grilled corn. They are ready in a snap, can be made to complement a wide range of flavors and are easily adjusted according to your taste.

Discover more ways to enjoy the season and fresh spring corn at www.sunshinesweetcorn.com.

Grilled Corn with Sesame-soy Sauce

4 ears fresh sweet corn
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

Preheat grill or broiler. Rinse corn under cold water. Fold husks back and remove silks. In a small bowl, combine soy sauce, lime juice and sesame oil. Brush lightly with sauce; replace husks; tie husks together at the top with a strip of husk or piece of string. Place corn on grill or broiler rack, about 4 inches from heat source. Grill, turning occasionally, until husks are charred, about 8 minutes. Remove husks. Serve corn with remaining sauce.

Note: If ears are husked, simply brush with the sauce and grill as described above.

Yield: 4 portions

Roasted Sweet Corn Salsa

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
4 ears fresh sweet corn, husked
1 can (16 ounces) black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/2 to 1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 500 F. Place ears in shallow roasting pan; brush with 1 tablespoon of the oil. Roast until corn is tender and some kernels begin to turn golden brown, about 7 minutes, turning once. Remove from heat; cool. Using a sharp knife, cut kernels from corn ears (makes about 2 cups). In a large bowl, combine corn kernels, black beans, bell pepper, cilantro, lime juice, the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, hot pepper sauce and salt until blended. Chill or serve at room temperature over grilled meat or fish.

Yield: 5 cups

Grilled Sweet Corn Con Queso, Cafe Habana, New York City

4 ears fresh sweet corn, husked
1/4 cup mayonnaise
4 ounces cotija (queso anejado) or feta cheese
1 teaspoon chili powder
4 lime slices

Preheat grill or broiler. Grill or broil corn, turning occasionally until hot and some kernels turn golden brown, about 5 minutes. Using a knife, coat each ear of corn with about 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise. Crumble cheese on one side of each corn ear. Sprinkle with chili powder, dividing evenly. Broil until cheese starts to melt 1 to 2 minutes. Serve with lime.

Yield: 4 portions

Herbed Butter for Fresh Corn
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 tablespoon finely chopped minced green onion (scallion)
1 teaspoon dried herbs, crushed (such as Italian seasoning, oregano, basil)

In a small saucepan heat butter or margarine until bubbly. Stir in green onion and herbs; cook and stir for 10 seconds. Brush over hot corn.

Yield: 1/2 cup

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