Grilled Vegetable Corn Boats

I still haven't caught up completely on my e-mails, blog reading and Google+ing (I'm fairly certain that last one isn't a verb, but I just invented it.) but I'm back from a wonderful long weekend in New York. The JFK airport, as usual, did not really want to see me leave and showed me by delaying my flight for several hours before having me sit on the plane for several more hours. Thank you JFK. I'll miss you, I enjoyed getting home at 2 AM. (Although JFK must love my mother-in-law and sister-in-law even more because their flight was cancelled and they had to stay there another night.) 

If you've been to New York City, you probably already know that the food there is just amazing. Whatever type of food you want to eat, there's a restaurant for it and it's probably the best __________ (fill in the blank) you've ever had. I'm still dreaming about some couscous I had at a Moroccan restaurant that I will never be able to recreate but will definitely try. 

In honor then, of the wonderful creamy risottos, blintzes and cheesecakes I had in NYC, I thought I'd continue on with the theme I started Monday with a veggie week. Not because you need it, you see, but because I do. (Did I mention cheesecake?) Whenever I start eating on vacation I think, "I wish I could eat like this every day!" but by the end I'm always happy to get back to "real" food. Man cannon live on cheesecake alone because he would probably die before age 30. 

These corn boats are probably the most exciting veggie dish I make, and they're also some of my favorites. They're fun, tasty, and they aren't difficult to make. Chopping the ingredients is probably the most time intensive part. Using the husk as a "boat" to warm the filling and for serving adds some great flavor and makes for an impressive presentation. You could always skip the husk step, but in my mind it is what makes this recipe special. Fresh corn is one of my favorite things about summer, so I love that this recipe takes advantage of all parts of the corn, both outside and in. You can bake the corn boats once they are filled, but if you are like me and don't like to use the oven in the summer, I'd grill them instead. Both ways work wonderfully, although the grilling does require you to keep a closer eye on the boats so they don't burn. Either way you choose, make sure you try this with some fresh corn before the summer is over. 

Corn Boats

4 ears corn with husks
1 T olive oil
1 small red onion, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1 medium red or green bell pepper, diced (about 1/2 cup)
1 small sweet potato, peeled and diced (about 1 cup)
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp table salt
1/2 tsp hot pepper sauce
2 T chopped cilantro or parsley

1. Remove tough outer leaves of husks and discard. Pull remaining husks back over the stem end, remove silk and cut corn cob off, leaving husks and stem end attached. Reserve 2-3 husks for later use.

2. Cut corn off cobs. (See this post from Dishing the Divine for a great tip on how to cut corn off the cob.)

3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees, or heat grill to medium high heat. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion, red pepper and sweet potato; cook until just tender, about 8 minutes. Stir in corn, chili powder, salt and hot pepper sauce. Cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in cilantro; remove from heat. Let cool slightly.

4. Spoon about 1 cup vegetable mixture into each husk. (See picture below.) Using a strip of the reserved husk or kitchen twine, tie the husks to enclose the filling. Trim excess husk 1/2 to 3/4 inch from ties. Place boats on a cookie sheet and bake until heated through and husks are beginning to brown, about 12-15 minutes. If grilling, place on grill over direct heat and turn 1/4 turn every few minutes to prevent burning. Remove when all sides are lightly browned. 

You will have bent the husk backwards to cut the cob off, but bend the husk back forward to fill. I like to use my thumb to make an opening in the leaves and fill from there. 

Recipe Source: adapted from Creative Cook's Kitchen

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