Summer’s not over ’til the corn is gone

No sooner had I published my last post welcoming fall and resigning myself to cooler, wetter weather did Seattle throw me for a loop with a return of brilliant sunshine and what could objectively be considered lukewarm temperatures. Huzzah! I thought that maybe summer hadn’t gasped her last breath after all. Of course by the weekend it was cold and rainy again, but we did enjoy that week in between, yes we did. I know my cat was certainly happy he could once again bask in the sun that pours onto our dining room table on a sunny afternoon, if only for a short time. Too bad about us having to eat there. (P.S. don’t worry, I clean the table quite often).

Rocco on the dining room table

My suspicions that the rumors of summer’s earlier demise were greatly exaggerated were confirmed when I went to the farmer’s market and discovered that yes, all the cornerstones of summer produce were still there. And I proceeded to buy a ton of it, eschewing all the newly arrived winter squash for another day.

Winter squash

I bought strawberries and raspberries and corn (oh my!), not to mention, peaches, plums, tomatoes, tomatillos, and a beautiful cantaloupe that was the sweetest I’ve ever tasted. I basically bought everything that said summer.

Summer produce

The one exception I made to this was to buy roasted peppers. One of the stands was roasting them there on the spot in a big cage that had flames shooting up into it (!) and was hand-turned by a crank on the side. It was so cool, I couldn’t resist. The good people of River Farm in Ellensburg, WA were selling three types of roasted peppers: sweet Italians, Poblanos, and Krimzon Lees (awesome name, right?!) I bought all three and am a huge fan – they are all so tasty in their own unique ways.

River Farm peppers

As soon as I got home and spread my haul out on the kitchen counter to admire it, I thought immediately of this recipe for Sautéed Spicy Corn that Molly Wizenberg recently posted about on her blog (one of my favorites), Orangette. I remembered the recipe from when it was first mentioned in an episode of the hilarious Spilled Milk podcast that Molly does with Matthew Amster-Burton, but failed to make a note of it at the time so I was happy to be reminded of it on Molly’s blog. I thought that the ingredients I had gathered from the market would make an excellent riff on the recipe – and man oh man, was I right!

Buttery corn

I used two of the Krimzon Lee roasted peppers (they are the spiciest of the trio sold at the market) instead of a jalapeno, and also added tomatillos to the mix. We ate the corn with thick slices of slightly toasted sourdough bread topped with tomatoes (thanks for that idea too, Molly!) and it was the perfect summer dinner…even if fall is closing in on us.


In fact, I loved this dish so much that I made it again a couple days later – for the second time in a week. I forced, literally forced, myself to go running after an exhausting day of grad school orientation and decided that this dish would be my reward – not chocolate, not ice cream, not potato chips. This corn dish. So, if that doesn’t get to you make it, I don’t know what will.

Matthew’s Spicy Sautéed Corn with Tomatillos

Adapted from Spilled Milk and Orangette
Makes 4 side dish servings, or 2 main servings if for you – like me – it is the whole point of the meal

Molly notes in her adaptation that she used a 10-inch cast-iron skillet. I used a 10-inch stainless steel sauté pan because it was the closest I had, but if you have a cast-iron skillet – of any size – you should use it! I’m pretty sure the cast-iron will give you more of the coveted “delicious brown bits” that Molly and Matthew both talk about. Mine definitely did brown, but not enough for me to need to de-glaze the pan with water, which I’m sure adds more of that delicious caramelized flavor.

  • 3 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • Kernels from 3-4 ears fresh corn
  • Half a medium onion, diced
  • 4-5 tomatillos, quartered
  • 3 roasted Krimzon Lee peppers (or any hot pepper you want to use), diced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice

First, a note about getting the kernels off of the ear of corn. It is a challenge. I’ve always been told that the best way to capture all the kernels is to cut them off the cob inside of a large bowl. That is still difficult though and can be murder on your knife. But! I learned from a Food Network show, with Guy Fieri of all people, that it works much better if you put a smaller bowl, opening down, inside the larger bowl and use the bottom of that smaller bowl as a platform to cut the corn. Like so:

Bowls for cutting corn

All the corn still goes into the bowl and it doesn’t ruin your knife. Winning!

Ok, so once you do that and prepare your other ingredients per the above, heat the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat until bubbling.

Add the corn and onions, stirring to coat with butter. Cook, stirring once, for 2-3 minutes.

Add the tomatillos and roasted peppers and stir all ingredients together well. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the corn begins to brown and the tomatillos are cooked through but not mushy, about 10 minutes more. Your kitchen will smell heavenly during these 10 minutes.

If your corn does stick to the pan, add a tablespoon or so of water and scrape those browned bits off the bottom (lucky you!) and then let the water boil off.

Season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove from the heat, and stir in the lime juice.

Serve immediately.



Filed under Food, Sides

9 responses to “Summer’s not over ’til the corn is gone

  1. This looks awesome! And I’ve gotten those peppers before, too! Yum!

  2. Pam

    I presently have ten ears of corn in the refrigerator and lots of ripe tomatoes. Thank you for the inspiration for what will be a great dinner, I’m sure!

  3. Dad

    Sounds good, fast and easy. That’s for me since I’m on my own four nights a week. I also want to try the Summer Minestrone and tweak it with a couple of Spruce Hens I got last week. 🙂

  4. David

    I like this blog….because it is neat. and I like all the photographs, ( especially of Rocco, the cat)

  5. Cindy B

    HA HA you guys are so cute. A friend gave me a tomatillo plant this past summer. I had never even purchased them and was excited to try it. I had tons of yellow blooms and even got some of the green paper lanterny jacket things. I was so excited that I would have cute little tomatillas appear inside them but they remained hollow. Now I’m going to look for them in the produce section (we aren’t endowed with farmer’s markets here, especially at this time of year – also forget “fresh” corn here, you’re better off getting frozen – do I sound bitter? – no really it’s OK for now…I could have done

    without reading about the poor man who is “on his own” four nights a week though!). I will try the recepie in spite of my dissapointing plant!

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