Fresh flavors abound in this cilantro lime corn. The secret is an intensely flavored herb butter which is added to the corn near the end of cooking. It forms a pan of saucy goodness that’s delicious on its own, in salads or as a side dish.
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The recipe comes from my new favorite cookbook, Deep Run Roots, written by Vivian Howard of A Chef’s Life program on PBS. Vivian Howard grew up in Eastern North Carolina and her recipes are loaded with the flavors, textures and colors of a rural childhood. I am enchanted by her stories as well as her recipes. Growing up in Maryland we ate more crabs than pork barbeque but the summers were full of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Vivian’s cilantro lime corn recipe makes use of kernels that have been freshly cut from the cob, which is recommended. This is our fifth summer in Spain and I’ve yet to see unshucked ears of corn in the markets. It’s a popular vegetable and I opted to purchase a bag of frozen kernels to make my version.
The key to this flavorful side dish is the cilantro lime butter which can be made ahead of time and stored in the fridge if you like. It’s very easy to whirl all of the ingredients together in a food processor. If you don’t have one, use a mixer to whip the lime and cilantro into the butter. The butter will have an intense taste. Don’t panic! It will mellow out when added to the corn and form a nice little sauce.
A vegan spread will substitute for the butter if you prefer a non dairy option.
- ½ stick (4 tablespoons) butter, softened
- zest and juice of two limes
- ½ cup (a good handful) cilantro leaves and stems
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 4 cups of corn (I used a bag of frozen yellow kernels)
- 1 cup of water
- Pulse the cilantro leaves and stems in the food processor until finely chopped
- Add the butter, lime zest and juice, cayenne pepper and salt
- Pulse until well combined. You'll need to scrape down the sides of the bowl on occasion.
- Set the butter aside. Refrigerate if making ahead of time.
- Heat the corn and water in your largest skillet over medium high heat.
- Cook until the corn is warmed through and nearly all of the water has been cooked away. Adjust the heat if necessary.
- Stir the lime cilantro butter and any juices that may have collected into the corn. Let the butter melt and coat the kernels.
This is at its best when served warm while the sauce is creamy and the cilantro is still bright green. I ate it right out of the skillet but you might prefer to serve it as a side dish along with some grilled chicken and sliced tomatoes.
Rick and I spend some time in April visiting relatives in Emerald Isle, North Carolina, about an hour from Vivian Howard’s restaurant in Kinston. We had a lovely time and I enjoyed listening to their reminiscing about spending time in Eastern Carolina as children and teenagers. His cousin gifted us with this gorgeous cookbook. I had to make room in my suitcase for it, but it was worth the extra weight. This won’t be the last recipe I’ll share with you.