It’s Labor Day, so take it easy with maque choux. Easy yet elemental, maque choux features the Creole holy trinity of onion, pepper and celery, and three summer besties — tomato, basil and corn. It honors the big-hearted spirit of Louisiana, offers the pleasure and bright flavors of summer, nourishment when we need it, and even earns its keep for Whole Grains Month.
Maque choux is kin to succotash. They’re both corn-centric skillet quick fixes, somewhere between a stew and a sauté, and both have their roots in Native American cuisine. So does corn, the whole grain we forget about. Here’s where things get fuzzy, though — Creole and Cajun also have their roots in the same place — Louisiana — but veer off in different directions. One insider tip —if the recipe has tomatoes, like this one, chances are it’s Creole. They’re used less in Cajun cooking, with its decidedly French influence, Makes sense — it came from Louisiana’s French settlers. Creole isn’t one thing, it’s many — a delicious blend of African, French and Spanish influences and Louisiana produce. Don’t sweat it, just enjoy it.
Join me in making this delicious dish on IGTV.
Ladle up some maque choux. Serve with a green salad and some crusty bread and the world will feel a little friendlier. A little hot sauce helps, too.
- 2 ears of corn
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 onion chopped, about 1 cup
- 1 good-size stalk of celery chopped, about 1 cup
- 1/2 green pepper about 1/2 cup
- 1/2 orange or red pepper about 1/2 cup
- 1/2 jalapeno minced
- 1 pint grape tomatoes halved
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves or 1/2 teaspoon dried
- 1 big handful fresh greens such as kale, turnip greens or spinach, well-chopped (optional)
- 1 big handful fresh basil chopped
- sea salt and ground pepper to taste
- Working over a large bowl, cut kernels off the corn. Scrape the cobs well, using the bowl to reserve the kernels and any juice from the cobs.
- Heat oil in a skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion and sauté, stirring occasionally, until the onion starts to soften, about 4 minutes. Then add the celery and pepper. Continue cooking and stirring until vegetables grow soft and fragrant, about another 5 minutes.
- Stir in the jalapeno, grape tomatoes, corn, thyme and smoked paprika. Reduce heat to medium, cover and let the maque choux simmer for 10 minutes. Mixture will throw off liquid, creating its own broth.
- Remove lid, add optional chopped greens and stir until greens just wilt. Add chopped fresh basil and season generously with sea salt and fresh ground pepper.
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