Popped Hominy Salad with Fresh Corn and Basil

published Jun 29, 2022
Popped Hominy Salad with Fresh Corn and Basil Recipe
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Credit: Photo: Julia Gartland; Food Styling: Duncan Fitzpatrick

Hominy, in my view, is completely underappreciated and misunderstood. It’s mildly sweet and somewhat chewy, with a mellow corn taste. Similar to canned beans, hominy is an inexpensive way to make dishes from soup to sides more substantial and satisfying. If you’re not already cooking with hominy, maybe this summer side will encourage you to grab a can or two.  

What Is Hominy?

Hominy starts with a variety of dried corn — which has a thicker, tougher outer skin than sweet corn — that is soaked in an alkaline solution to remove the hard shell. (This process is called nixtamalization.) During the soaking/cooking process, the corn swells three to four times its size, revealing softened, plump, toothy kernels. In ancient times, this laborious process was done by hand. Today, ready-to-eat hominy is found in the canned goods or international sections at the supermarket for $1 to $1.50 per 15.5-ounce can.

How to Prepare and Cook the Hominy 

Because hominy is already cooked, very little additional cooking is required. I find hominy to be especially delicious — and fun to prepare — when toasted in a cast iron skillet, although it can be used in myriad ways. (You might have had hominy in a delicious bowl of pozole.) This recipe marries skillet-toasted, or “popped,” hominy with fresh corn to augment the corn flavor and uses a simple tangy-sweet dressing to complete the side dish. It’s my nod to old-school, Southern summer cast iron vegetable dishes with modern taste buds in mind. 

To start, make sure the hominy is very well drained. Place it in a colander, then press between several pieces of paper towel or a thick, clean dish cloth to wick away excess moisture. Then get the skillet hot over medium-high heat with the oil. Add the hominy and quickly toss in the oil to fully coat — this helps the hominy slightly caramelize on the edges and pop, giving it more texture and flavor. Keep the lid on the pan; the hominy sputters and jumps just like popcorn.

Finishing the Salad

While the hominy is popping, you can prep the fresh ingredients and the dressing. I like to cut the corn off the cob using a sharp chef’s knife and a Bundt pan. Place the cob vertically in the center hole of the pan, then slice down along the core of the cob. The kernels fall into the well of the pan, making cleanup super easy.

Slice the tomatoes in half, cut the basil and onion very fine, and mix up the dressing. Stir in the skillet as soon as the hominy is cooked and browned. Serve in the pan with a few extra leaves of basil for garnish.

If You Make Popped Hominy Salad, a Few Tips

  • Eat it promptly. For the best texture, this salad is best when eaten right away.
  • Frozen corn works, too. If fresh corn is not in season or you are in a pinch, thaw frozen corn and keep on the heat a few more minutes to warm it through
  • Bulk it up. To make the salad more substantial, stir in 1 to 2 cups of cooked rice or quinoa along with the corn and/or add some freshly diced red or orange bell pepper. Serve with crisp gem lettuce leaves, if desired.
  • Swap out the sweetener. Substitute honey for the sugar for a rounder, sweet flavor.

Popped Hominy Salad with Fresh Corn and Basil Recipe

Prep time 10 minutes

Cook time 20 minutes

Makes about 5 cups

Serves 6

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 2 (about 15-ounce) cans

    hominy (or 1 (about 30-ounce) can)

  • 1/4 cup

    olive oil

  • 2 ears

    fresh corn

  • 12 ounces

    cherry tomatoes (2 cups)

  • 1/2

    medium red onion

  • 1 small bunch

    fresh basil

  • 1/4 cup

    distilled white vinegar

  • 1 tablespoon

    granulated sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    red pepper flakes

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    kosher salt, plus more as needed

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    freshly ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Drain 2 (about 15-ounce) cans hominy in a colander and rinse under cool water to remove any excess residue. Line a large plate or baking sheet with 2 layers of paper towels or a clean, thick kitchen towel. Transfer the hominy onto the towel and press down gently to remove the excess water.

  2. Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a 12-inch skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the hominy and stir well with a wooden spoon to coat with the oil. Turn the heat down to medium and cover the pan slightly with a lid. Cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the hominy turns slightly golden but is not completely browned. The hominy will pop a bit like popcorn, so be careful when stirring!

  3. Meanwhile, prepare the following, placing each in the same medium bowl as you complete it: Shuck and cut the kernels from 2 ears of corn (1 1/2 to 2 cups). Halve 12 ounces cherry tomatoes. Finely dice 1/2 medium red onion (about 1/2 cup). Pick the leaves from 1 small bunch fresh basil and finely chop until you have 1/3 cup.

  4. Place 1/4 cup distilled white vinegar, 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes in a small bowl and whisk to combine.

  5. When the hominy is ready, take the pan off the heat. Add the corn mixture to the skillet. Pour the dressing on top and stir to combine. Add 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper and stir again to combine. Taste and season with more kosher salt as needed.

Recipe Notes

Corn: 1 1/2 to 2 cups thawed, frozen corn can be substituted for the fresh corn in a pinch, but the sweetness of the fresh corn is a nice contrast to the popped hominy.

Storage: Leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Reheat in a skillet over medium heat.