Enjoy the bounty of a home grown garden or local farmer’s market
I recently participated in a Chef’s Table demonstration at a local cooking school near my home. Each of the participants were given the ingredients from a local farmer’s co-op mystery basket, and asked to make a recipe with the contents. One of the dishes I made is inspired from Arizona and New Mexico where squash and corn find their way into a casserole with cheese and Hatch Chiles. The recipe turned out well, and I was blown away by the farm fresh corn flavor as well as the spiciness of the Hatch chiles. This recipe is highly modifiable and you can add red bell pepper, goat cheese, minced parsley or cilantro. I find the recipe delicious as is, but do make it to suit your needs.
Please read through the step by step instructions and be careful cutting corn off the cob, if you’ve never done it. I would suggest a cut glove if you don’t have advanced knife skills.
Fresh Corn, Zucchini & Hatch Chile Casserole
This is an easy side dish that goes with almost any type of protein. If you have any leftovers, it reheats really well in the oven or microwave. If you need to feed more people, this recipe scales up easily without having to make adjustments.
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 2 large ears corn, fresh cut kernels
- 2 medium zucchini, diced
- 2 Hatch chiles, fire roasted (medium heat, seeds and skins removed)
- 1 bunch scallion, white part and slightly green parts only
- 2-3 large clove minced garlic
- 4 oz cream cheese at room temperature
- 2 whole eggs, slightly beaten
- 3/4 cup mayonnaise
- 3/4 cup Oaxaca cheese, shredded can substitute Monterrey Jack
- 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
- 12-14 Ritz crackers, crushed to fine meal
- 1/3 cup butter to drizzle over the top
Preheat oven to 375. Prepare an 8x8 pan with spray-on cooking oil.
Remove the corn kennels from the cob inside a large mixing bowl to catch the kernels and the cob milk. (See techniques section.) With the back of the knife, scrape down the length of the cob to remove the corn milk from the cob.
Dice the zucchini into roughly the size of the freshly cut corn kernels.
Cut the ends off of the green onions, and dice the remainder of the white and slightly green parts only.
Purchase pre-fire-roasted chiles. You can also purchase these online from Hatch, New Mexico. They are sold year round, frozen. The frozen chiles work great. They are also sold in cans, but the fresh or frozen are better.
To roast chiles yourself, use exposed gas flame or over an outdoor gas or charcoal grill. Be sure to use a long pair of tongs so you do not burn yourself. Chiles grilled outside can be tossed in cooking oil first to help rapidly char the skins. Once the chiles are charred, place them in a mixing bowl and wrap with plastic wrap let them sweat in their own heat for about 10 minutes, before attempting to remove the skins.
Remove the seeds and skins from the roasted chiles and slice into strips.
In a large sauté pan, add the olive oil and bring up to just smoking over medium-high heat. Add the corn kernels, zucchini, green chiles, sliced green onion, and minced garlic. Stir often, until the vegetables are soft and cooked through. Season with salt and pepper.
Pour the vegetables into the prepared 8x8 casserole dish.
In a stand mixer, add the room temperature cream cheese. Turn the machine on low and get the cream cheese started for the mixture. Next, add the whole egg, mayonnaise, and half of the amounts of both cheeses. Run the mixer slowly at first, until everything begins mixing together. Slowly increase the speed of the mixer, to whip the egg cheese mixture and incorporate it fully. Occasionally stop the mixer and scrape down the sides and bottom, to make sure all of the cream cheese is mixed in.
Once the egg and cheese mixture is completely incorporated, pour the mixture over the top of the cooked vegetables in the dish. Using a rubber spatula, spread it evenly over the top. Cover the top of the mixture with the second half of the cheeses.
Cover the casserole with the crushed Ritz crackers. Drizzle a little butter (optional) on top of the crackers. Cover with foil and place in the oven. Bake for 25 minutes.
After 25 minutes remove the aluminum foil from the casserole to let the cracker crumbs get crisp in the oven, about 10-15 minutes.
Remove the cooked casserole from the oven and let cool slightly before serving.
This a basic recipe that can be bumped up with 2 tsp of chile powder, extra roasted garlic, sauteed leeks, cilantro or substituted with a different cheese flavor like goat cheese instead of the Oaxaca. The dish is delicious on it's own, but play around a little with your favorite southwestern seasonings and make it your own.