Summer is the perfect time to make this easy colorful and tasty Fresh Corn Zucchini Saute with Peppers and Pine Nuts. A quick and simple side. Add some fresh basil to give it a real summery flair or some fresh salsa to give it a bang!
How to make Fresh Corn and Zucchini Saute with Peppers and Pine Nuts
I love summer. And summer produce.
You can make so much simply by using just the freshest of fresh summer produce, corn, zucchini, peppers, and basil, all grow fabulous during the summer months. And all of those together make this fresh corn and zucchini saute a fabulous summer side!
Not that you can't find these ingredients in other seasons, you can. They just aren't as good, fresh, and flavorful as they are in summer.
So I take advantage of fresh summer corn and zucchini when I can.
Saute vs Stir-Fry -What's the difference?
You may be wondering what is the difference between a saute and a stir-fry. I call this recipe for fresh corn and zucchini with peppers and pine nuts a "saute" because it is cooked over medium heat.
A stir-fry is simply done on higher heat.
Higher heat means more brown edges and requires a more attentive eye on the pan to keep the ingredients from burning.
So really, if you want to cook at high heat, call this recipe corn and zucchini stir-fry.
Medium heat = saute.
- Fresh Corn on the cob - cut off the cob
- Zucchini (also known as courgette)
- Peppers - You can use any variety of pepper you would like in this saute. See the instructions for more options.
- Toasted Pine Nuts - always always toast your nuts. The best way to toast nuts to put them onto a cookie sheet and set into a hot oven, about 350ºF (176ºC) for about 5 minutes or so for pine nuts. Keep your eye on them as they are very oily and burn quickly.
- Olive oil and unsalted butter - just a dab will do ya. We want to keep this light and fresh.
- Fresh Basil - Torn. This is totally optional but really makes this corn saute scream summer.
- Salt and Freshly ground pepper.
Step by Step Instructions for making Corn Zucchini Saute
Step 1 - Remove the corn from the cob with your preferred method. Methods include:
Use the largest set opening you have and just run the cob back and forth, turning as necessary until the kernels have been removed.
This is a great method as the corn falls nicely onto the surface below the mandolin.
Do use caution when using the mandoline and KEEP YOUR FINGERS OUT OF THE WAY!
Cut the kernels off with a knife:
With this method, it is best to cut the kernels into a deep container, either a bowl or, one of my favorite ways into a bundt pan.
I find that a more flexible knife, such as a boning knife, works well with removing the kernels.
Why buy corn at a Farm Stand?
Because fresh corn is the best corn.
As a child, we had a corn field just a fence jump over from our backyard. Farmer Otani allowed those of us with adjoining fences to feel free to jump over and grab fresh corn for our personal use.
I learned to really appreciate fresh corn.
I've tried growing corn myself, but it hasn't been my best growing crop.
And that was a shame, as really, there was nothing finer than to go out back, grab some ears of corn, and have them on the table about 5 minutes after picking them.
Since corn converts its sugars into starch very quickly once picked, the farm stand is now our resource for fresh corn.
I highly recommend you go to either a farm stand or farmer's market as the corn will be picked, within one or two days of it being sold, unlike the supermarket where it will have sat for a week, before getting to the shelves.
Fresh corn is the best corn...
Step 2: Wash the zucchini and dice it into small dice, about the size of the corn kernels.
No, you won't need this many zucchini, however, if you grow them in the garden, and they are very easy to grow, you might have this many.
I use just the outsides of the zucchini leaving the soft seedy middle for another use, such as making my recipe for Curry Zucchini Soup, a delicious light summer soup.
You can certainly use the whole zucchini if you choose, just try to keep the pieces about the same size as the corn kernels.
Step 3: Choose your pepper
For this presentation, I chose multi-colored baby bells which are what I had in the refrigerator.
You can also use regular bell peppers (I'd avoid the green ones) but red, yellow, or orange are very nice for presentation.
As with the zucchini, try to keep your pepper dice about the same size as the corn, unless you're using the mini bells, then just slice them thinly.
Step 4: Depending on whether you choose high heat, or medium heat, turn on the burners and add the oil along with a pat of butter.
Wait for the butter to melt into the oil and then add the corn, zucchini, and peppers. Stir until crisp-tender. This should take about all of 5 minutes.
Add the toasted nuts and cook it all together until the veggies are tender and, if using the stir-fry method, slightly browned on the edges.
If using the saute method, simply cook until tender and to your desired degree of softness.
Step 5: Remove from the heat, add your toasted nuts along with the fresh basil, if using.
Yes you can. When the best fresh corn is not available, frozen corn can be substituted—no need to defrost the corn if it's frozen.
Using poblano or jalapeno peppers in place of the bell will make it spicier. Or just use some to compliment the bell peppers. Another option is to add a few tablespoons of your favorite fresh salsa to add some heat.
What to serve this Corn Zucchini Saute (Stir-Fry) with?
Fresh Corn and Zucchini Saute (Stir-Fry) with Peppers and Pine Nuts goes perfectly with any summer BBQ and is especially good with Rotisserie Chicken, Apricot Chipotle Glazed Turkey Cutlets, and Blackberry Balsamic Chicken Breast.
Fresh Corn and Zucchini Saute (Stir-Fry)
- 2 ears fresh corn on the cob kernels removed (about 1 ½ cups)
- 2 small zucchini diced the same size as the corn kernels (about 1 ½ cups)
- ½ cup diced or sliced peppers you could use any kind of pepper you like, I used a sweet Hungarian pepper in this one, but have used bell peppers, jalapeno peppers and California peppers
- 1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon butter
- ⅛ cup toasted pine nuts
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Fresh sliced or torn basil optional
- The Saute Method: Heat the oil and butter together in a large skillet over medium heat, add the corn, zucchini, and peppers. Saute, stirring occasionally until crisp-tender; removed from heat and add the pine nuts. Season with salt and pepper, toss with fresh basil, if using, and serve.
- The Stir-Fry Method: Heat the oil and butter in a large skillet or wok over high heat; add the corn, zucchini, and peppers. Cook, stirring until the vegetables are soft with browned edges. Remove from heat; add the pine nuts. Adjust seasonings and toss with fresh basil.