Vegan Cooking Tips

Quick and Easy Ideas for Corn

By Chef Nancy Berkoff, EdD, RD, CCE

Fresh, frozen, or canned, corn adds wonderful texture to just about every item on the menu. Keep some frozen corn and canned corn on hand to spruce up meals. Also, take advantage of fresh corn and purchase more than you need. Clean and wash fresh corn, cut off the cob, place in freezer bags or containers, and store in the freezer until ready to use.

Corn Broth, Corn Soup, or Corn Chowder

Use the corn cobs to create a corn broth. Just boil corn cobs with a small amount of carrots, onion, and celery for a delightful broth that can be used as a base for vegetable or bean soups, or as a cooking liquid for grains or rice.

Fresh "cream" of corn soup or corn chowder can be a "meal in a minute" by placing silken tofu, fresh corn (cut off the cob), thawed, frozen corn, or drained, canned corn, a small amount of tomato paste, and seasonings you enjoy, such as black or white pepper, onion powder, ground thyme, etc., in a blender. Blend until smooth, or until the texture you like is achieved. Add some more corn kernels, and some pieces of cooked potato, if you have some on hand, and heat on the stove until warm. If you have the time, you can sauté some diced onions and bell peppers and add to the soup while it is warming for extra flavor.

Central American-Style Corn

If you have extra fresh corn on the cob or some frozen corn on the cob, you can prepare it Central American style. For fresh corn, peel back the husks (but don't remove them) and clear out the corn silk. Spread a thin layer of vegan mayonnaise or mayonnaise-style dressing (such as Thousand Island) over the corn, sprinkle some minced garlic or minced chilies (or both), and re-wrap the corn in the husk. You can place these on a barbecue grill or in the microwave and allow them to cook until the corn is just soft.

For frozen corn, spread with vegan mayonnaise and seasonings, wrap in foil, and cook on a barbecue grill or in a hot oven (about 400 degrees) until corn is as soft as you like it!

Corn Relish

Corn relish is a traditional condiment that can be used to spice up menu items or can even be used as a sandwich filling. Combine cooked, cooled corn with chopped pickles or pickle relish for a fast corn relish. You can use this with cooked or cold entrées, or add to soups or cooked vegetables.

If you are feeling like doing a bit more chopping, you can combine corn with chopped pickles, chopped red or green bell peppers (or both), chopped sweet onions, chopped fresh tomatoes (or drained, diced tomatoes), and black olives. Use this as a condiment or as a salad filling, combined with leftover cooked beans or diced extra firm tofu or seitan.

Corn "Pilaf"

Make a corn "pilaf" by sautéing finely chopped onions in a small amount of vegetable oil until golden and then adding corn kernels. Toss and sauté until the corn is a bit toasty and serve hot. Chill leftover corn pilaf and use it as a salad topping the next day or stir it into vegetable soup, minestrone, or bean soup.

Corn Pudding

Corn pudding can be made by using a simple "corn mush" recipe (think of cream of wheat made with corn meal), stirring corn meal with water or non-dairy milk over low heat until thick and smooth. Add in corn kernels, raisins, cinnamon, ground ginger, and maple syrup or molasses and allow to cook until desired thickness. Corn pudding can be served plain, either warm or chilled with sorbet (which will allow it to become even thicker) and sliced and served with sliced pineapple or sliced peaches.

Corn Bread and More

If you are in a baking mood, cut fresh corn kernels into a cornbread mix, top with corn kernels and bake. You can also toss corn kernels into burrito fillings, sandwich mixes, cooked grains or veggies, and even salad dressings.