I love summertime. Even more than that, I love summer food.
One of the best days in summer is when local corn starts to appear in the farmers markets.
The way most people eat it — including me, most of my life — is to slather the cobs with a big stick of butter. That's fine, but too much butter-slathered corn and, well, we all know where this is headed.
My solution for corn-on-the-cob fans is my barbecue Mexican corn.
I'll concede that fresh corn tastes great on its own. But sometimes I like to spice it up a bit.
This easy-to-make side dish offers big flavor without giving you a big gut.
This recipe uses cotija cheese, known as the "Parmesan of Mexico." If you're unfamiliar with it, cotija cheese is a strongly flavored, crumbly cheese that is used like Parmesan is in Italian cooking.
If you can't find cotija in your supermarket, try using Parmigiano-Reggiano or feta. Don't worry about any calories from mayonnaise either. I use the low-fat version, and it tastes absurdly fabulous as a part of the grill "sauce."
Start to finish: 20 minutes
1/4 cup fat-free mayonnaise
1 teaspoon barbecue spice rub (use your favorite)
4 ears local corn, in their husks
Butter-flavored cooking spray
1/2 cup (about 2 ounces) cotija cheese, grated
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 lime, cut into 4 wedges
Heat a grill or grill pan to high.
In a small bowl, mix the mayonnaise and barbecue spice rub. Set aside.
Place the corn, in their husks, on a grill or pan and allow to steam cook for about 5 minutes per side.
Peel back some husk and check for tenderness. When corn is tender, remove from heat but leave grill on or pan over the heat. Cut 1 inch off top of cobs. Grasp husk, along with silk, and peel husk off cob like a banana. Continue peeling back husks around rest of cobs. Peeling them back together in this way creates a handle for holding cobs.
Spray corn with cooking spray and place on hot grill or pan. Grill until kernels begin to develop grill marks and become charred, about 2 to 3 minutes. Turn cobs occasionally.
Using a pastry brush, brush mayonnaise mixture onto each cob. Sprinkle the cheese and cilantro over cobs. Serve immediately with lime wedges.
Nutrition information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 158 calories; 6 g fat (3 g saturated); 12 mg cholesterol; 23 g carbohydrate; 7 g protein; 3 g fiber; 367 mg sodium.
Rocco DiSpirito is author of the "Now Eat This!" and "Now Eat This! Diet" cookbooks.