One of our family's favorite side dishes, this four ingredient corn, pepper and onion sauté is quick to make and easy to adapt to go with lots of different main dishes.
For more great recipe ideas like this, be sure to check out the Quick Healthy Recipes page.
Summertime has always meant corn to me - hot corn on the cob dripping with butter. Yum.
It's one of the reasons I grew corn as soon as we had enough space for it (and yes, you can grow corn without weeding all the time!)
I harvested so much every summer, though, that once we had our fill of corn on the cob, I had to find other ways to use the heaps of corn still coming in.
To this list I'm happy to add this quick and simple corn sauté with peppers and onions that's become a staple not just in the summer, but all year long.
Having frozen quart bags of corn - both blanched and unblanched - means this delicious sauté is able to make an appearance at our meals all winter long.
Which if you're a fan of our seasonal menus you'll already know, because our family loves this side dish - and I love that it's quick, easy, AND is equally good with fresh or frozen produce.
Sautéed Corn, Pepper And Onion
These are the kind of dishes that makes my simple lifestyle heart go pitter-patter:
How does just four real food ingredients sound?
- corn, fresh or frozen
- peppers, fresh or frozen
- butter, bacon grease, or avocado oil
You will need to add salt and pepper to your taste, and I like to sprinkle a bit of cayenne for spice, but again these are to individual tastes.
- skillet, preferably cast iron
- sharp knife and cutting board
The straightforwardness of this recipe is also refreshing - melt butter or bacon grease (also works with avocado oil for a vegetarian option) and cook the onions for a few minutes, then the peppers, and finally the corn.
Cook it all until done, about 5 minutes more.
Don't you love it?
Oh and if you're rolling your eyes at the bacon grease, just try it - it adds such a good flavor and is a fun change every once in awhile. And you don't need much to get that nice, smoky flavor, either.
Fresh or Frozen?
While I used fresh corn and peppers for these photos (which make it look really good...) honestly, I make it most of the time with frozen corn and our frozen chopped sweet red peppers. It might not be quite as crisp, but it's still very good!
The bonus is that it goes together quicker with the frozen produce, since they're already cut and ready to go. You'll only need about 10-15 minutes to chop the onions and cook it all, which sounds great on busy weeknights, doesn't it?
Even at 20-25 minutes prep and cook for the fresh version, though, it's still a simple side dish that works with so many main dishes.
Variations & Serving Ideas
Changing up a few things and making a couple additions helps this dish adapt to whatever you're serving with it - it's really versatile that way.
- Add garlic and basil and serve it with an Italian style pot roast.
- Use a mild hot pepper, a couple teaspoons of chili powder and some cumin to serve with enchiladas, black bean quesadillas, or other southwest inspired main.
- Top with feta cheese and fresh, chopped tomatoes to serve with mediterannean dishes like Greek salmon and vegetable frittata and Greek style grilled beef lettuce wraps.
- Cook some chopped zucchini with it and serve with grilled soy-sriracha marinated chicken.
Or try serving as pictured with:
See? When it's something this easy and delicious, I make it work with just about anything!
And that spoonful?
I just don't get tired of it. Well, maybe after two straight months of a corn-glut, lol.
But soon that will be a distant memory and this will be making its usual frequent appearances on our menus.
Corn, Pepper and Onion Sauté FAQs
Yes, you can use any type of pepper you'd like. Using a mild hot pepper like Anaheim or Poblano will give the dish a Southwestern flavor that would work well with enchiladas or beans and rice.
You want corn to be crisp-tender when cooked. If the corn is still on the cob, boil the ears for 4-5 minutes only. If using cut fresh or frozen kernels, cook 5-7 minutes, stirring often.
While corn is a starchy vegetable with more natural sugars than non-starchy veggies (lettuce, peppers, onions, broccoli, etc.) it does still have quite a few reasons to keep it part of a healthy diet.
It contains fiber which is good for gut health while helping you feel full between meals. It has vitamin C as well as being a good source of lutein and zeaxanthin, both of which we need for eye health and to prevent cataracts. (source)
Simple Corn, Pepper and Onion Sauté
- Cutting board and sharp knife
- 2 tablespoons butter, bacon grease, avocado oil, etc.
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 sweet red pepper, chopped (or equivalent chopped, frozen peppers)
- 6 to 8 ears corn, kernels cut off OR 16-oz bag frozen corn
- salt & pepper, to taste
- optional: ground cayenne pepper, to taste
- optional: parsley for garnish (chives and cilantro work, too)
- Melt butter in a heavy large skillet over medium heat.
- Add onions and cook 2 minutes, then add peppers and cook another minute before adding the corn.
- Stir and sauté all the vegetables together for another 5-7 minutes, or until warmed through and cooked until the corn is crisp-tender.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste, adding a bit of cayenne for spice, if you'd like.
- Serve garnished with parsley (chopped chives are nice, too, as is cilantro).
- For an Italian flavored sauté: add 1 clove minced garlic and 1 teaspoon dried basil (or 1 Tb. chopped fresh) at the same time as the red pepper.
- For a Tex-Mex flavored sauté: add 2 tsp. chili powder and 1/2 teaspoon cumin at same time as red pepper. Add more cayenne for spice, as desired, OR replace sweet pepper with a mild hot pepper like Anaheim or Poblano.
- For a Mediterranean flavored sauté: top with crumbled feta cheese and chopped tomatoes before serving and garnishing.
Other Easy Side Dishes to Try
This recipe has been updated - it was originally published in October of 2014.