When I stepped out for coffee this morning, I was met with the most welcome surprise: crisp, 65-degree air and a breeze stiff enough to make me wonder if I’d be too chilly in shorts. I blissfully strolled to my neighborhood cafe and ordered the first hot latte I’d had in six months.
By God, that’s Meg Ryan’s music, I thought. It was all the sign I needed that fall, with its chunky cable knits and deluge of pumpkin-spiced products, is nearly here.
For those torn between lamenting summer’s end and celebrating autumn’s approach, might I suggest eating a lot of corn? It’s the vegetable of this moment, a shoulder season staple that manages to evoke both seaside sunsets and farmyard hayrides.
The season you’re most desperate to glom onto may dictate how you prepare your corn. Here are a few ideas to get you started.
Raw: Enjoy sweet late-summer corn raw, while you still can. Pasta salad screams park picnics and drawn-out beach days, and Ham El-Waylly’s corn and miso pasta salad is exceptional in either setting. The corn’s raw snap, alongside much crunchier celery and nubby ditalini, makes for a dish overflowing with texture.
Raw corn also adds chew to Hetty McKinnon’s summery spin on vegan cold sesame noodles, which she pairs with cucumber and basil. The kernels’ natural sweetness is the ideal foil to the fiery chile crisp mixed into the sesame sauce.
Simmered: For a soup that tastes of summer but feels like fall, simmer kernels until tender and then purée everything, as David Tanis does in his creamy corn soup with basil. Despite the name, you won’t need to add any dairy, thanks to the starch the corn releases into the broth.
And don’t limit simmering to kernels. Tossing cobs into boiling water imparts layers of corn flavor to ramen broth in this recipe, also from Hetty. The noodles soak up much of that liquid before she stirs in corn kernels, along with soy sauce and butter for a glossy final dish.
Baked: Sure, you could make cornbread, but you could also roast corn kernels in a single layer on a sheet pan for this season-straddling farro salad from Melissa Clark. After 20 minutes in the oven, they become golden and fragrant; alongside hearty grains and crispy chickpeas, the corn adds tender, juicy pops.
Or, you know, go ahead and make cornbread! Better yet, make Ali Slagle’s corn casserole, which is like a cheesy cornbread studded with fresh (or frozen) corn kernels — the platonic ideal of a sweet and savory side dish, best enjoyed on a cool autumn’s night.