Creamed corn is one of those items that I always look fondly upon from my childhood. I can really only relate it to the holidays, specifically my family’s ‘recipe’ for corn casserole. Nevertheless, the idea of creamed corn makes me happy; just not from a can. Also, at least for this recipe, there’s no cream in sight.
One of this season’s cookbook pick-ups helped guide me a bit on this. Jeremy Fox’s On Vegetables relies on corn, and only corn, to make creamed corn (and a subsequent vegan polenta which is amazing.) I took the method and applied it here to make an extremely simple dish. Between the starch from the sweet corn and the barley, a risotto-like texture is created. It’s comfort food, vegan style.
Creamed Corn Barley
An easy vegan summer meal featuring a homemade creamed corn and hearty barley.
- 2 cups sweet corn kernels
- 1 cup sweet corn broth or low-sodium vegetable broth
- 1 cup pearl barley, uncooked
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
- Scallion greens, for serving
- Chili flakes, for serving
- Olive oil, for serving
- In a medium pot, heat the sweet corn kernels and broth. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until the kernels have softened, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer the broth and ¾ the kernels to a blender. Puree until smooth. Transfer back to the pan with the remaining kernels and gently heat until ready to use.
- In a separate pan, combine barley with 2 ¼ cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover, and let cook for 30 minutes. Barley should be tender but slightly chewy. Stir in the creamed corn, salt, and pepper.
- Transfer the barley to bowls and top with scallion greens, chili flakes, and olive oil.
Tips & Tricks: To make sweet corn broth, place 4 corn cobs in a pot, breaking as needed to fit. Cover with equal parts water (4 cobs + 4 cups of water). Add in 1 bay leaf, 2 springs of rosemary, and half a yellow onion. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and let cook for 45 minutes. Remove the cobs, onion, and herbs then transfer the stock to a jar. Don’t strain- you will lose some of the goodness!
Nutrition: see the information.
This recipe is simple which means you can easily vary it based on your flavor preference. I love to add cheese but a thick nut cream is also delicious (and helps give a boost in protein!)
Heavy Cream: creamed corn is often made with heavy cream. If you’re looking for a richer taste, add a splash or two into the creamed corn. You could also use nut creams, if desired.
Pesto: I kept the toppings fairly simple but given the summer flavor, a bit of pesto spooned on top or mix into the barley is delicious.
Grains: The beautiful thing about this recipe is that it works with really any grain. Use sorghum to make it gluten-free while keeping the chewy texture or use a quicker cooking grain like millet.
Cheese: Sharp cheddar is amazing melted into this dish.
July is all about sweet corn for me. It was a staple in my house during the hot summer months and while we traditionally boiled it and served it with a slab of butter, I learned to love this summer treat. Nowadays, it’s all about showcasing the sweet flavor in savory dishes. A few of my favorite recipes: