But why is that? We all know corn doesn’t need it. Fresh corn, all by itself, is so sweet and so creamy it needs very little--or nothing at all.
We looked at salads and soups, even puddings and waffles, and asked, why not do without most of the fat? Why not enjoy the purity of corn flavor, and make it healthy at the same time?
Our garden salad of lightly cooked corn kernels and chopped tomatoes relies on their juices for a natural dressing. Combined with a little tart vinegar, the juices bring out the flavors of the salad, which includes sliced green onions and chopped celery. Most salad dressings depend on heavy oils to temper sharp acidic flavors. But the corn juices have so much substance that this dressing doesn’t need a drop of oil.
And what about a soup without cream? So many corn chowders and soups use it liberally, sending calories and fat rocketing. Our version is based on a corn broth made by simply simmering the cobs in water for about an hour. We did add a touch of butter for a little richness, but that’s it for added fat. Top off each serving with freshly ground pepper and a sprinkle of chopped basil or cilantro leaves. Nothing could taste fresher.
The modern varieties of supersweet corn are so filled with natural sugar that they make an almost fruity addition to a light waffle batter. Our recipe uses low-fat buttermilk and less butter then most. Beaten egg whites--which have no fat or cholesterol--are folded in for added volume and fluffiness. At serving time, skip the maple syrup and butter and try a sprinkle of powdered sugar instead.
Or, if you have fresh strawberries on hand, they’re wonderful with the waffles. Lightly crush half a pint. Stir in about two tablespoons of sugar (or more, depending on the sweetness of the berries). Let them stand about 30 minutes, then serve on top of the warm waffles. And what about waffles for dessert? Fold the warm waffles in half, fill each with a tablespoon of low-fat frozen yogurt and eat immediately.
Corn pudding is, of course, an old-fashioned favorite, but most versions are loaded with butter and cream. Ours calls for egg substitute instead of eggs and low-fat milk rather than cream. There’s just a bit of butter. Still, the texture is voluptuous and deeply satisfying. Because it has so little fat, the top tends not to get brown during baking. So we give the pudding a nudge under the broiler so it browns nicely. And don’t forget the sprinkle of grated fresh nutmeg over the top.
Sure, you probably can’t help but grill and butter a few ears--fresh corn is hard to resist that way too. But with these light recipes, it’s even more appealing.
In the salad photo: plates from Crate & Barrel, napkin from Sur La Table.