Roasted Corn Off the Cob

2 to 4 servings

Roasting corn off the cob rids the kernels of excess moisture and results in kernels that are intensely flavorful, surprisingly tender and with a slight crunch. When pulled from the heat at precisely the right moment, the surface takes on a splotchy golden color and the edges barely begin to crisp. You just might not go back to corn on the cob.

Roasting in an oven provides the most even cooking with the least chance for overcooked and hence tough kernels.

Inspired by a recipe from "Once Upon a Tart . . . ," by Frank Mentesana, Jerome Audureau and Carolynn Carreno (Knopf, 2003).

2 cups raw sweet corn kernels (from about 4 ears, any color)

Extra-virgin olive oil, preferably Spanish

Sea salt

Freshly cracked black pepper (optional)

To roast the corn: Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil. Scatter the corn on the baking sheet, drizzle with a scant amount of oil and, using your fingers, toss to coat each kernel of corn. There should be no extra oil pooling on the sheet or in the skillet. Spread the corn in a single layer. (Watch the corn carefully; it goes from roasted to burned in a few seconds.) Roast the corn, stirring once or twice, until lightly browned, 5 to 7 minutes.

Immediately transfer to a bowl, drizzle with additional oil, season with salt and pepper to taste and toss to combine. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

To broil the corn: Adjust the broiler pan about 6 inches from the heat element. Preheat the broiler. Line a baking sheet with foil. Scatter the corn on the baking sheet, drizzle with a scant amount of oil and, using your fingers, toss to coat each kernel of corn. There should be no extra oil pooling on the sheet or in the skillet. Spread the corn in a single layer.

Broil the corn, stirring once or twice, until lightly browned, 7 to 10 minutes. (Watch the corn carefully; it goes from roasted to burned in a few seconds.)

Immediately transfer to a bowl, drizzle with additional oil, season with salt and pepper to taste and toss to combine. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

To saute the corn: You will need to use 2 skillets or work in batches. Add just enough oil to coat the bottom of the skillet. Saute over medium-high heat until lightly browned, 7 to 10 minutes.

Immediately transfer to a bowl, drizzle with additional oil, season with salt and pepper to taste and toss to combine. Serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

Per serving: 95 calories, 2 gm protein, 16 gm carbohydrates, 4 gm fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 1 gm saturated fat, 74 mg sodium, 2 gm dietary fiber

Now that you have your Roasted Corn off the Cob, it can easily be added to salsas, strewn atop salads and used as a starting point for new summer side dishes. After the corn has been roasted and you are about to add the final drizzle of oil, turn to one of these variations:

Basil: Toss with basil leaves that have been thinly sliced or torn into small pieces.

Butter: Add a large chunk of butter instead of oil and season with salt.

Lime, Cilantro and Black Pepper: Add a squeeze of lime, some finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves and plenty of cracked black pepper and, if desired, a pinch grated lime zest.

Miscellany Herb: Toss with finely chopped fresh herbs -- marjoram, chervil, chives, etc.

Corn and Green Bean Salad: Before you roast or broil the corn, line a second baking sheet with foil. Cut a couple of handfuls of trimmed green beans into 1-inch lengths, scatter them on the foil and drizzle with a scant amount of oil. Roast or broil the beans while or before you cook the corn. Toss the beans and corn in a large bowl, drizzle with additional oil or Lemon Vinaigrette (recipe follows), season with salt and, if desired, add thinly sliced radishes. Serve immediately.

Inspired by a recipe from "Once Upon a Tart . . . ," by Frank Mentesana, Jerome Audureau and Carolynn Carreno (Knopf, 2003):

Not Your Mother's Succotash: Boil some sugar snap peas just until bright green but not tender, 1 to 2 minutes. Add some roasted corn, a drizzle of oil, salt and pepper to taste.

Warm Potato Salad: Add some roasted corn to boiled new potatoes (the smaller the potato the better) and dress with plenty of cracked black pepper, Lemon Vinaigrette (recipe follows; using mustard) and, if desired, some red onion.

Roasted Corn and Tequila Salsa: In a bowl, combine 1/2 cup roasted corn kernels, 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, 2 teaspoons or so tequila and a pinch of finely chopped, seeded habanero or serrano chili pepper. If desired, season with salt and pepper to taste.

Roasted Corn and Watercress Salad: Drizzle olive oil or some Lemon Vinaigrette (recipe follows) over watercress, arugula or mizuna and toss to coat. Scatter with roasted corn kernels and pan-fried potatoes (boiled potatoes that have been cooled, refrigerated overnight, cut into 1-inch dice and pan-fried in a scant amount of oil until lightly browned on all sides). If desired, top with seared sea scallops.

Guacamole With Roasted Corn: Using a molcajete or a mortar and pestle, mash 1 small clove garlic and a pinch sea salt. Transfer to a bowl and add the juice from 1/2 lime, 1 avocado scooped from its peel, 2 teaspoons finely chopped red onion and finely chopped fresh cilantro to taste. Using a fork or 2 knives held crisscross fashion, gently cut or mash the ingredients until the desired consistency. Gently stir in 1/3 cup roasted corn. Taste and season with salt, pepper and additional lime juice to taste.

Corn and Bitter Greens Salad: Toss together a few handfuls of torn bitter greens, such as arugula, frisee, radicchio and/or watercress, with Lemon Vinaigrette (recipe follows) or a balsamic vinaigrette. Scatter roasted corn over the top and, if desired, add strips of grilled chicken.

Roasted Corn and Bitter Greens Saute: In a large skillet over medium heat, heat about 1 tablespoon of mild olive oil. Add a few handfuls of torn bitter greens, such as arugula or radicchio, and toss just until they wilt slightly, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper and toss again. Scatter roasted corn over the top and serve immediately.

Roasted Corn and Pumpkin Seed Side Dish In a skillet over medium heat, heat 1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds, shaking the skillet often, until they pop, about 3 minutes. Set aside to cool slightly.

In a bowl, combine the pumpkin seeds, 11/2 cups roasted corn kernels, 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro, juice from 1 lime, finely chopped, seeded jalapeno chili pepper to taste or pinch ground chipotle pepper, salt to taste and 1/2 small red onion, finely chopped. Serve immediately. Adapted from "The Candle Cafe Cookbook," by Joy Pierson and Bart Potenza with Barbara Scott-Goodman (Clarkson Potter, 2003).

Lemon Vinaigrette: Whisk 2 to 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice with 3 tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper to taste and, if desired, 1/2 to 1 tablespoon honey or coarse-grain mustard.