Hot Corn and Cheese Dip

The banana split ice cream cake wasn’t the only dish that got rave reviews when my mom had my Chief Culinary Consultant’s parents over for dinner last week. We not only ended the meal on a great note, but we kicked it off on a pretty good one as well! My mom wanted to put out some fresh fruit (with fruit dip, of course!) and a vegetable tray for us to munch on while we hung out and played cards before dinner, but I thought that something hot might be good as well. I always tend to she away from hot dips during the summer because not only are they, well, hot and require turning on the oven, but they typically are very heavy. No one wants a hot, heavy dish when it’s 100 degrees outside, right? I had been eyeing up this recipe since seeing a version of it on Jessica’s blog a few weeks ago and, even though it required a quick spin in the oven, it sounded perfect for rounding out our snacks. I have now made this twice since last weekend and we can’t get enough of it. It’s warm and cheesy, yet fresh-tasting and summer-y all at the same time. It’s summer dip nirvana.

Look at all of those greens, reds and yellows! So many bright colors; it makes such a beautiful dish, especially when you serve it with blue tortilla chips – they are a great contrast in color.

Plus, I (the hater of almost all vegetables) rambled on yesterday about all of the corn, peppers and onions I was eating while devouring the dip. I consumed so many vegetables, this could almost be considered a health food! Almost 😉

With corn reaching its peak season and a jalapeño plant that keeps producing new peppers like a jack rabbit, I foresee much more of this dip in my immediate future. The flavors are perfect for the summer and it doesn’t require too much prep or oven time. You could easily assemble this ahead of time, cover it and keep it in the refrigerator, and then put it straight into the oven. You might have to bake it for an extra few minutes, but it’s a great candidate for the “do-ahead and refrigerate until you’re ready” category. That makes it perfect for easy, casual get-togethers… and for veggie-averse folks like myself to boast about all the vegetables they’re eating. Never mind the cheese 😉

One year ago: Malted Milk Ice Cream
Two years ago: Cranberry Orange Scones
Three years ago: Chunky Pecan Pie Bars
Four years ago: Pasta Fagioli

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Hot Corn, Pepper and Cheese Dip

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided

3½ cups corn kernels (from about 4 ears of fresh corn, or 16 ounces frozen corn, thawed, drained and patted dry)

½ teaspoon salt

Pinch ground black pepper

1 cup finely chopped yellow onion (about 1 small to medium onion)

½ cup finely chopped red bell pepper (about ½ a pepper)

¼ cup finely chopped green onions (about 1 bunch)

1 jalapeño, seeded and minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

½ cup mayonnaise

Pinch cayenne pepper

4 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, divided

4 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, divided


Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.


2. Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Add the corn, salt, and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the kernels turn deep golden brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.


3. Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter in the skillet. Add the onions and bell peppers and cook, stirring often, until the onions are wilted, about 2 minutes. Add the green onions, jalapeno, and garlic and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes, or until the vegetables are softened. Transfer to the bowl with the corn.


4. Add the mayonnaise, half of the cheddar cheese, half of the Monterey Jack cheese, and the cayenne and mix well to combine. Pour into an 8-inch square or other 1 to 2-quart size baking dish and sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. Bake until bubbly and golden brown, about 20 minutes. Serve hot with tortilla chips.


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(Recipe adapted from Emeril Lagasse)


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