I suspect that, similar to myself, many of you draw a blank after volunteering to bring an appetizer to a party. It’s not like you don’t have plenty of winners in your recipe arsenal. It’s just that the onus of sizing up your crowd, determining how much time you’re going to have to get your act together on that particular day, and what price point is in your budget can leave you scratching your head. Today, I offer you a quick and budget-friendly crowd-pleasing app for your recipe piggy bank.
I first made mention of this corn dip in my Southwestern Quinoa post earlier in the season, hoping that by summer’s end, I would have conjured up a lighter version. My first encounter with it was earlier this spring when my sister-in-law served it. One bite and I was instantly seduced by the creamy cheesy texture, chunky vegetable goodness, and Tex-Mex flavor. Every scoop thereafter I became more addicted in attempt to relive that first euphoric moment over and over again… I had to have this recipe.
Months later, I am still a huge fan and, by and large, bring it wherever I go with the unadulterated confidence it will be a sensation. I often find people hovering around it like bees to a hive, happily noshing away. And best yet, I frequently find my dish is left bone dry with just a few remnants of the dip that was – a sure sign of a winner.
After initially sourcing this recipe back to my husband’s Aunt Claire, I recently discovered it actually came directly from Emeril Lagasse. I am going to give you the original recipe and an optional substitute to lighten it up. This dish is loaded with a variety of tasty veggies that almost make up for the butter and moderate amount of mayonnaise mixed in. While neither of those two ingredients will kill you, I am always looking for a way to maintain or enhance flavor while keeping things light. I substituted soft tofu for most of the mayo and extra virgin olive oil for butter last time I made it – the dip didn’t skip a beat. I invite you to try it the original way first and, if you are down with tofu, as I am, give it a shot in place of the mayo. I doubt you will miss it either. An untested substitution that a friend suggested, in order to up the health factor of the original recipe, is using Greek yogurt in place of the mayonnaise- I think this would work fantastically. Feel free to share your favorite tips for lightening up common fat-traps (mayo, cream cheese, etc…) in the comment section below.
P.S. The corn-veggie saute (pre-mayo and cheese) is delicious enough to eat on its own or as a side. I found myself “taste-testing” a little too frequently towards the end of its time in the frying pan and realized that this would work swimmingly alongside some simple BBQ fare.
Fiesta Corn Dip
Slightly adapted from Emeril Lagasse’s recipe
Serves a crowd
2 Tbsp. butter
3 1/2 cups corn kernels (frozen or 4 ears fresh)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1 cup chopped yellow onions
1/2 cup chopped red bell peppers
1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp. chopped green onions (green and white parts)
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
2 tsp. minced garlic
1/2 cup mayonnaise
8 ounces cheddar cheese, shredded
1/4 tsp. cayenne
1 handful fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
1 small plum tomato, diced
Tortilla chips, for dipping
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Melt one tablespoon of butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the corn, salt, and pepper, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl. Melt the remaining butter in the skillet. Add the yellow onions and bell peppers, stirring often for about two minutes. Add the green onions, jalapeno, and garlic and cook for an additional two minutes or until all the vegetables are softened. Transfer to the large bowl. Add the mayonnaise, half of the cheese, cayenne, and cilantro and mix well. Pour into an 8-inch square or round baking dish and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake for 20 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly. Top with one tablespoon of sliced green onions and diced tomato. Serve hot with tortilla chips.
- Sub 1/2 cup firmly packed soft tofu + 3 Tbsp. mayonnaise for 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- Sub extra virgin olive oil for butter