Corn Off the Cob with Zippy Dressing

The corn crop here is winding down, maybe another dozen ears or so for us to eat, and some more to cut off the cob to freeze for later. We had help in the garden and in eating corn on the cob this past week with a delightful couple, Chelsea Manquero and Dax Colison, who came here from Texas (by way of a grand tour of the central United States and across Canada to the Maritimes and down to Maine) to help in the gardens. Chelsea fixed up a lovely corn-off-the cob dish one evening and I liked it enough to ask for the recipe.

Chelsea calls the recipe “cup of corn,” and when I asked why she said, “It’s called corn in a cup because in Mexico, street vendors often found it easier to serve up in a cup, rather than on the cob itself. You still can eat it on the cob all fancied up, but it makes quite a bit of a mess.” We ate this dish as a salad for lunch along with a great broccoli salad, also fixed by Chelsea which I will share with you later.

Gradually, I have been adjusting my Yankee taste buds to slightly warmer, capsicum-enhanced fare and the red pepper flake supply has been diminishing at a much more rapid than usual rate mostly because of the influence of a youthful population around here who use red pepper (and hot sauce) with an aplomb my generation hasn’t adopted. Even so, I know that Chelsea dialed back the heat a bit out of concern for my taste, though she and Dax are both accustomed to fiery fare back home.

You can use freshly cooked corn that you cut off the cob yourself, or frozen or canned. Three ears made enough for five of us. Adjust all the seasonings to your own taste. Her directions call for red onion, cayenne, chili powder, lime juice and cilantro to top it off. She said, of the cayenne and chili powder, “I used a few dashes of each.” Of all the hotter peppers, I find that I like smoked chipoltle best and when I make this next time, I’ll use that.

There is no harm using more or less of anything. Chelsea used a soup spoon to measure out the sour cream and mayonnaise. A “chunk” of melted butter looked to be a couple tablespoons. For color in the salad, she added chopped fresh red bell pepper straight from the garden.

It’s not like I get tired of eating corn straight off the cob, but it is fun to have another way of serving it. This zippy corn salad is a bright addition to my corn routine.

Zippy Mexican-Style Corn Salad
Serves: four to six
  • 3 to 4 ears of cooked corn
  • Half a red bell pepper, chopped
  • A small red onion, chopped
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • Juice of half a lime
  • 1 teaspoon full of chili powder or more to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne or to taste
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Sprig of cilantro, finely chopped
  1. Cut the corn off the cob and put into a bowl.
  2. Stir in the pepper and onion.
  3. In a separate bowl, mix the sour cream, mayo, melted butter, and lime juice until it is blended. It will be fairly runny.
  4. Add the spices next, chili powder, cayenne, salt and pepper and blend, taste, and adjust to your taste.
  5. Pour dressing over the vegetables and toss to mix.
  6. Add cilantro as a garnish sprinkled over the top.


Sandy Oliver

About Sandy Oliver

Sandy Oliver Sandy is a freelance food writer with the column Taste Buds appearing weekly since 2006 in the Bangor Daily News, and regular columns in Maine Boats, Homes, and Harbors magazine and The Working Waterfront. Besides freelance food writing, she is a pioneering food historian beginning her work in 1971 at Mystic Seaport Museum, where she developed a fireplace cooking program in an 1830s house. After moving to Maine in 1988, Sandy wrote, Saltwater Foodways: New Englanders and Their Foods at Sea and Ashore in the 19th Century published in 1995. She is the author of The Food of Colonial and Federal America published in fall of 2005, and Giving Thanks: Thanksgiving History and Recipes from Pilgrims to Pumpkin Pie which she co-authored with Kathleen Curtin. She often speaks to historical organizations and food professional groups around the country, organizes historical dinners, and conducts classes and workshops in food history and in sustainable gardening and cooking. Sandy lives on Islesboro, an island in Penobscot where she gardens, preserves, cooks and teaches sustainable lifeways.