At a popular Mexican market and cafe in Los Angeles, I like the chicken soup with chunks of corn on the cob. It is served with another corn-based food – tortillas, which are made of dried corn and accompany just about every Mexican meal.
Tamales, or leaf-wrapped steamed dumplings with savory fillings, are also made from a dried-corn dough.
Fresh corn is another Mexican favorite. As street food, the hot,
flavorful corn is served on the cob or in a cup. It comes sprinkled with
chili powder, salty grated cheese or both, and sometimes it is buttered
Corn originated in Mexico and is the main staple of the
country’s diet. Corn soups are a classic way to prepare this fresh grain
in Mexico. Meat soup might feature corn kernels cooked with zucchini,
carrots, tomatoes or other vegetables, and is garnished with avocado
slices. When I make tortilla soup, I add corn kernels to the soup’s
traditional tomato vegetable base and top it with the customary corn
For a slightly thickened, subtly sweet soup, the corn might be pureed. Elisabeth Lambert Ortiz, author of The Complete Book of Mexican Cooking
makes a rich pureed corn soup with sauteed onion, tomatoes and heavy
cream. Other cooks use milk and sour cream to make their corn soups
creamy and flavor them with hot green chilies and with green onions.
is a favored technique for cooking corn kernels among Mexican cooks.
The corn might be briefly simmered with butter, milk, green onions and
sweet peppers or, for a spicier dish, with garlic, green onions and hot
Corn is frequently combined with other vegetables. It
might be mixed with cream cheese or grated cheese and used to stuff
zucchini. For a quick, colorful medley, a Mexican friend of mine heats
corn kernels with sauteed onion, sweet red peppers and zucchini. Kathi
Long, author of Mexican Light Cooking, starts the day with such simple
stews, scrambling corn with eggs and sauteed zucchini and rolling the
mixture inside hot tortillas to make breakfast burritos topped with
Unlike their American neighbors to the north,
Mexicans like to pair corn with rice. Long’s corn and rice casserole is
accented with sauteed mushrooms and roasted chilies, and then baked with
Chef Rick Bayless’s chili-flavored corn and rice
casserole gains additional richness from thick cream and a generous
blanket of cheese. For his meaty Mexican corn rice supper, Bayless
layers spicy chorizo sausage with corn, zucchini and tomato-chili rice.CORN WITH SWEET PEPPERS, BEANS AND SALSA
tomato salsa flavored with hot pepper, garlic, fresh coriander and
olive oil gives pizzazz to this corn and bean medley. Serve it as a
meatless entree, or omit the cheese and serve it as a colorful side dish
with roasted or grilled chicken or steak.
Use any kind of canned beans you like. Instead of canned beans, you can cook frozen lima beans with the corn.
small garlic clove, peeled 1⁄2 cup fresh coriander sprigs, coarsely
chopped 1⁄4 cup diced onion 3 or 4 medium tomatoes, finely diced 1 to 2
tsp. minced fresh hot pepper, or 1⁄4 tsp.
cayenne pepper, or to
taste 3 to 4 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil 1⁄2 cup vegetable broth or
water 2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels Two 400-gr. cans beans or
chickpeas, drained 1 large red bell pepper, fresh or roasted, diced
small salt and freshly ground black pepper 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 cup grated cheese
or crumbled feta cheese (optional) In a food processor or with a knife,
chop garlic. Set aside 2 tablespoons of the chopped fresh coriander and
add the rest to the garlic; chop together finely.
Add onion and chop together. Transfer to a large bowl and add tomatoes and hot pepper. Stir in 3 tablespoons oil.
a medium saucepan bring broth to a boil. Add corn, cover and simmer for
2 or 3 minutes or until tender. Add beans and heat through. Drain
vegetable mixture if necessary, and add vegetables to bowl of tomato
salsa. Add diced red pepper, remaining chopped fresh coriander, salt and
pepper. If you like, add remaining olive oil. Serve hot or warm,
sprinkled with cheese.
Makes 4 servings.
CORN, GREEN BEAN AND ZUCCHINI SALAD WITH TOMATOES
this colorful, healthful salad of tender summer vegetables warm or
cold. You can make it ahead but if you do, add the lemon juice at the
last minute so it will not discolor the green beans.
green beans, halved 2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels 225 gr.
zucchini, cut in 2.5-cm. dice 1 to 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, or to
taste 2 tsp. chopped fresh oregano or 1⁄2 tsp. dried salt and freshly
ground pepper cayenne pepper to taste (optional) 350 gr. ripe tomatoes,
diced 1 Tbsp. lemon juice (optional) Add green beans to a saucepan of
boiling water. Boil uncovered 5 minutes. Add corn and zucchini and
return to a boil over high heat. Cook 3 minutes or until vegetables are
crisp-tender. Drain in a colander or strainer.
Transfer cooked vegetables to a bowl. Add olive oil, oregano, salt, pepper and cayenne. Toss to combine.
Add tomatoes and toss again. Add lemon juice. Serve warm, room temperature or cold.
Makes 4 servings.RICE CASSEROLE WITH GREEN CHILIES, MUSHROOMS AND CORN
recipe is from Kathi Long’s book. Long uses canned diced roasted green
chilies; I prefer to roast and peel semi-hot peppers and add them to
taste. If you don’t have hot peppers, season the casserole with hot
pepper flakes, hot paprika or cayenne pepper to taste. To keep the fat
content low, Long recommends reduced fat cheese and uses a total of 1
tablespoon olive oil; for a richer, festive dish, you might like to use 2
or 3 tablespoons of the oil.
1 medium white onion, chopped 1 to 3
Tbsp. olive oil, to taste 1 garlic clove, minced kernels from 3 ears of
corn or 1 package (280 gr.) frozen corn, thawed 350 gr. fresh
mushrooms, sliced 1 or 2 semi-hot green peppers, roasted or grilled and
peeled (see Note), and diced 1⁄2 tsp. salt, or to taste 1⁄4 tsp. freshly
ground black pepper, or to taste 3 Tbsp. chopped cilantro (fresh
coriander) or parsley 3 cups cooked white rice Vegetable cooking spray
or additional olive oil, for greasing the pan 1 cup coarsely grated
semi-soft grating cheese, such as mozzarella Preheat oven to 165º. In a
large nonstick skillet, cook onion in 11⁄2 teaspoons oil over
medium-high heat, stirring often, for 3 to 5 minutes or until softened.
Add garlic and corn and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, stirring often, until
corn is just tender. Scrape mixture into a large bowl.
In same skillet cook mushrooms in 11⁄2 teaspoons oil over medium-high heat until golden, about 5 minutes.
Add to corn mixture.
Add chopped hot peppers, salt, pepper, cilantro and cooked rice. Toss to mix thoroughly. Taste and adjust seasoning.
a 23- x 33-cm. baking dish with vegetable cooking spray. Spoon
rice-vegetable mixture into the dish and spread evenly. Sprinkle cheese
over the top. Bake about 20 minutes or until cheese is melted and rice
Makes 6 to 10 servings.
Note: To grill and peel
semi-hot or hot peppers – broil or grill peppers whole, turning them
often, until their skins blister all over; they need a total 3 or 4
Transfer peppers to a bowl and cover tightly, or put
peppers in separate plastic bag and close bags. Let stand for 10
minutes. Peel peppers using paring knife, halve and remove seeds.Faye Levy
is the author of Faye Levy’s International Vegetable Cookbook.
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