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Spice up your summer with Sarah's Southwest Sweet Corn. Meagan Deanne / The Forum

Lost Italian: Bite into summer sweetness with Southwest Sweet Corn

FARGO — The Nasellos are doing a happy dance because sweet corn season is finally here, and few foods scream summer better than corn on the cob.

There are myriad ways to prepare corn on the cob — you can boil it in water, roast it in the oven or, our personal favorite, char it on the grill. This week’s Southwest Sweet Corn is a simple and delicious way to showcase the natural beauty of corn.

Corn often gets a bad rap because it is a starchy vegetable with a relatively high sugar content (one medium-sized ear of sweet corn contains 6 grams of sugar). However, corn is ranked at the low to medium end of the glycemic index spectrum and, when eaten in moderation, can be an excellent part of a healthy diet.

Moreover, corn is low in fat and calories and loaded with minerals and vitamins, including protein, fiber, B vitamins and potassium, that will give your body a boost of energy and nutrition. The carbohydrates in corn, combined with the amount of potassium it offers, make this an excellent post-workout food. After all, corn might have a higher starch and sugar content than other, greener veggies, but it is still a vegetable.

But, what about GMO (genetically engineered) corn? The science community, as well as the National Academy of Sciences, which was established in 1863 with a mission to “provide independent, objective advice to the nation on matters related to science and technology,” have concluded that GMO corn is safe to eat. Furthermore, the engineering efforts to improve corn have produced a higher quality grain that requires less land space on which to grow, which allows farmers to experience higher yields while maintaining the sustainability of their land.

Eating corn straight from the cob is one of summer’s delights, and grilling the corn imparts a subtle smokiness to its naturally sweet flavor. We shuck our corn and place the ears directly on the grill, which further enhances the sugar to make the corn even more succulent.

Grilled corn is delicious on its own or with a bit of salt and butter, but an abundance of fresh cilantro in our garden recently inspired us to give this veggie a boost of extra flavor with an easy Southwest butter sauce. A combination of melted butter, fresh cilantro, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder and fresh lime juice, this butter sauce is brushed over the corn as it grills, and again immediately when it’s done grilling, so that it oozes in between each kernel for maximum buttery goodness. The lime juice brings a lively tartness to the sweet corn and the acid it contains helps the body to better absorb those B vitamins.

Easy to make and addictively delicious, I hope you enjoy this Southwest Sweet Corn as much as we do.

Southwest Sweet Corn


6 ears of sweet corn

1 stick unsalted butter, melted

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1½ tablespoons fresh cilantro, finely chopped, divided

1 teaspoon chili powder

¼ teaspoon ground cumin

¼ teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper


Clean the grill, brush it with oil and preheat on high. Remove the husk and silk from each ear of corn and set aside.

As the grill heats up, prepare the butter sauce. Place the butter in a medium, microwave-safe bowl and heat on medium-high for 20 seconds; stir and repeat until the butter is fully melted. This step may also be done in a small saucepan on the stove over medium heat.

Once the butter is fully melted, add the lime juice, 1 tablespoon cilantro, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, salt and pepper and whisk thoroughly to combine.

Place the corn directly on the grill and cook, turning often, until char marks are achieved as desired, about 10 minutes total. After 5 minutes, brush the top of each corn cob with the melted butter mixture, turn the cob over and brush the other side; repeat again after 2 minutes.

Transfer cooked corn to a serving platter and immediately brush each cob liberally with the remaining melted butter mixture. Garnish the corn with a sprinkling of fresh cilantro and serve any remaining sauce on the side.

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“Home with the Lost Italian” is a weekly column written by Sarah Nasello featuring recipes by her husband, Tony Nasello. The couple owned Sarello’s in Moorhead and lives in Fargo with their son, Giovanni. Readers can reach them at