Before I had Smith, I used to ask parents of multiple children if they secretly have a favorite. I always kind of thought they were lying and just embarrassed to admit it when they all insisted that they didn't. But now that I have two kids, I can honestly understand it. Sure, sometimes I get more frustrated with one over the other, or have an easier time getting one to sleep, but they are both so fun and awesome in their own ways.
So if someone were to ask me if I could pick my favorite summer produce, I'm pretty sure I'd go back and forth for days between corn ... tomatoes ... peaches ... cherries ... okra ... berries ... too hard to choose! So how's this: Favorite summer produce prepared as a savory "pudding" with super sharp cheddar, basil, and ricotta? Corn would win!
Corn casserole is a popular side dish pretty much year round, but this is so much better than that - it uses fresh corn, and you just can't beat that flavor. It also doesn't use a can of creamed corn (ick) or prepared cornbread mix. Everything here is super fresh - and the final dish is really fantastic. I served this as a side to pan-seard steaks, and it says a lot when I'm more excited about the side dish than I was about the main course. It also reheats very well, so paired with a salad, this made for some killer lunches the rest of the week.
So maybe I can't pick a favorite child. And maybe I can't pick a favorite summer vegetable. But I can pick a favorite side dish featuring corn!
Summer Corn Pudding
adapted from Barefoot Contessa Family Style, by Ina Garten
- 6 Tbs unsalted butter
- 5 cups fresh corn kernels, cut off the cobs (6 to 8 ears)
- 1 cup chopped yellow onion
- 4 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 1/2 cup half-and-half
- 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
- 1 cup ricotta (part skim is fine)
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
- 1 Tbs sugar
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 3/4 tsp black pepper
- 1 cup (8 oz) grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease an 8 to 10-cup baking dish.
Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Saute the onion until just softened, about 4 minutes. Add the corn and sauté an additional 4 minutes or so. Remove from heat and cool slightly.
Meanwhile, whisk together the eggs, milk, and half and half in a large bowl. Whisk in the cornmeal and then the ricotta, then stir in the basil, sugar, salt, and pepper. Add the corn and onion mixture and 3/4 cup of the grated cheddar and mix to combine. Pour into the prepared baking dish and sprinkle the top with the remaining 1/4 cup cheddar.
Bake the pudding 35 to 45 minutes, until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean and the top begins to brown. Allow to cool about 10 minutes before serving.