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What to eat with corn? May 15, 2009

Posted by ourfriendben in recipes, wit and wisdom.
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Silence Dogood here. We get all kinds of reader searches here at Poor Richard’s Almanac, which our host, WordPress, gives us the opportunity to see. In the past few days, we’ve had a few doozies: “greensleeves syphilis,” “can you eat unpollinated zucchini,” “sir richard’s almanac,” “what is college?” and the ever-popular “raccoon vinegar” among them. (Zucchini questioners, here’s your answer: An unpollinated zucchini is a squash blossom, and yes, they’re considered delicacies, whether dipped in raw egg white and fried or stuffed and baked. But you won’t get an actual zucchini unless that flower is pollinated!)

Sometimes we get a question that kind of tugs at my heart strings, though. One that came in a couple of days ago was “What goes well with corn on the cob?” Being Southern born and bred, the thought that anyone would need to even ask made me feel sad. I was tempted to answer “Everything!” but of course that isn’t true. (I don’t know about you, but I’d prefer not to eat corn on the cob with my pizza, spaghetti or curry, thanks just the same.) The short answer, butter and salt, is true, but I don’t think our reader was wondering what to put on his corn on the cob, but rather what to serve with it. So, dear reader, here are some favorite things to eat with corn on the cob. I envy you the experience of tasting them together for the first time!

* Barbecued anything: chicken, pork, beef, you name it. This includes all barbecue-related foods, including ribs, Buffalo wings, and Sloppy Joes.

* Fried chicken. Probably the most classic way to eat corn on the cob is with fried chicken, cole slaw, and sliced ripe tomatoes, with huge glasses of iced tea and slices of chilled cantaloupe (muskmelon) or watermelon for dessert. Yum!

* Hamburgers. Think retro cookout, with Dad in his apron at the charcoal grill.

* Cole slaw. That’s just “slaw” to us Southerners. The essential companion not just to fried chicken and corn but to barbecue of all types and stripes.

* Beans. Green beans and lima beans both go perfectly as side dishes with corn on the cob. Yellow wax beans do, too, but unless you’re eating white corn—the only kind worth eating, just FYI—you won’t get much color contrast. We solve that problem by mixing yellow wax beans and green beans. Add a rich red sliced tomato and you have not just a beautiful color medley but a meal!

* Tomatoes. Like corn on the cob, tomatoes are an essential summer food. Make a simple but beautiful Caprese salad of sliced ripe tomatoes (all red or mix red, orange, yellow, and green-ripe for a specially gorgeous presentation), fanned out on Romaine lettuce leaves with slices of fresh mozzarella and big fresh basil leaves separating the halved tomato slices. Top with a pinch of salt (we like Real Salt) and a drizzle of olive oil, serve with hot buttered corn on the cob, and you’re good to go!

* Summer squash. Summer squash is another essential summer staple. I’ll often boil sliced yellow crookneck or straightneck squash with sliced onions ’til tender, then drain and toss with butter, salt, and black pepper or a little oregano or basil. It’s a simple but flavorful side dish that goes with lots of summer fare. But my favorite way to serve summer squash and corn is to cut the corn off the cob and add it to a squash casserole. Yum! (See my earlier post, “Super summer squash recipes,” for that recipe and others.) While I’m talking about corn off the cob, I should note that here in PA, fresh corn pie, traditionally served topped with hot milk, is an Amish specialty.

* Shish kebabs. While you’re grilling your shish kebabs, add some corn on the cob to the grill. Eat them together for a wonderful pairing.

*Fajitas. Same as above.

* Stuffed peppers. Whether you enjoy the classic version with ground beef or a vegetarian version (we love peppers stuffed with cooked rice and lentils, sauteed onions and herbs, and maybe a little shredded mozzarella mixed into the stuffing before it’s topped with tomato sauce), corn on the cob is a great side dish. Add a crunchy salad and you have a perfect weeknight dinner!

* Fresh salsa. No, I’m not suggesting that you smear salsa on your corn on the cob! (Though you can add corn, cut off the cob, please, to black bean salsa.) But the flavors of fresh salsa—the chopped tomatoes, peppers, onions, cilantro, and lemon or lime juice—are just perfect with corn on the cob. Top baked chicken breasts with salsa or make a salsa-topped taco salad and enjoy your corn on the cob alongside. (Note: Eating corn chips with salsa and corn on the cob is double dipping.)

There are so many other ways to enjoy corn on the cob, too. What are yours?

          ‘Til next time,




1. commonweeder - May 15, 2009

What to eat with corn is an odd question, and I am with you in every regard. And I’m not even a southerner. The suggestions hold here in New England too

I understand that corn on the cob, wrapped in foil, is a standard at New England clambakes, but I’ve never been to a clambake, so what do I know? I think a fresh corn chowder, on the other hand, would be delicious! Maybe when corn’s in season here I’ll work on developing a vegetarian version!

2. Heather - May 15, 2009

Umm, any kind of food. Corn is magic!

So true! Can’t wait for that yummy ‘Silver Queen’ to come into season here!!!

3. Daphne Gould - May 15, 2009

You need to eat other things with corn on the cob? Well I suppose if you had to add something black bean soup would be yummy. Baked beans would be good. In New England the traditional is a New England Clambake: Clams, corn on the cob, potatoes, and lobster.

See, Daphne, maybe I’m just weird. I know those are all traditional, but I just can’t see eating something starchy like corn on the cob with beans or potatoes. (On the other hand, I have absolutely no problem eating cornbread with baked beans or black bean soup and tortillas or rice with refried beans. Sheesh, talk about inconsistent.) But then I’m the one who can’t figure out why you (meaning “someone,” obviously, not you Daphne) would serve bread with pasta!

4. nancybond - May 15, 2009

While I could make a meal of nothing but sweet corn, it does go well with any BBQ.

Speaking of strange search queries, I discovered this one that had been used only this morning: double vision in freezing weather Argghhh! 😉

Aargghhh is right, Nancy! And I agree: I think I could make a whole meal of a couple (or three) ears of sweet corn, too!

5. gail - May 15, 2009

I used to think butter was the only thing one needed to eat with corn on the cob, now I like it crunchy and plain….But, I love it as a meat and three choice! gail

Ha! You forgot the salt, Gail! Butter and salt… mmmm. Crunchy and plain, eh? I know people say to boil water, rush out and pick the corn, shuck it, dip it in the hot water, and eat it for the ultimate flavor treat. Well, maybe…

6. Ali - May 15, 2009

Corn with chili lime butter Ahhhhhh heaven.



I’ve heard of that one, Ali, and it does sound just delicious! The cool lime, the hot chili, the buttery corn… now where’s a margarita?!!

7. Jen - May 15, 2009

You know I like Martha Stewart radio and last night a BBQ sides expert was on. He recommended mayo (yes, mayo!) mixed with butter and chili powder spread on it! I’m trying to work up my courage to try it.
We sometimes make something called Louisiana Supper Boil which is corn, potatoes, crabs or lobster, shrimp, etc. boiled in Old Bay seasoning, dumped out on newspaper and eaten with the hands.

Actually, I’ll bet that’s really good, Jen! I’ll have to try it next time our heat-loving friend Richard Saunders comes over for a summer feast. Thanks for the tip! The Louisiana Supper Boil sounds like a Southern vaiation of the classic New England clambake, doesn’t it? I guess it makes sense that people who live on the water would devise variants of the same meal!

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