Caesar salad makeovers, miso ideas, clever ways with corn and popcorn from David Neville.


Corn is the taste of summer. For me, it’s a herald; the earlier that corn arrives in the market, the more you can be assured it will be a long, warm summer. Although there are multiple varieties of corn, it is sweetcorn that has captured our hearts. Raw or cooked, its lemon-yellow sun colour is always welcome.


Corn cob honey
Place 4 whole corn cobs into a pot large enough to hold them. Cover with water by 1cm. Bring to a simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and leave to stand with a lid on for 15 minutes. Remove cobs and strain liquid into a clean pot. Add ½ cup sugar, ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder and a scant tablespoon pectin powder. Reduce to 1 generous cup, stirring regularly. Stir in 1 teaspoon lemon juice. Pour into a heatproof container and allow to set at room temperature. Store in the fridge when cooled. Ideal with toasted crumpets.

Tempura corn clusters
Stir together 1 cup all-purpose flour, 2 teaspoons cornflour and 1 teaspoon baking powder in a medium bowl. Add 3 cups fresh corn kernels and mix thoroughly. Add 1 egg and fold to combine. Slowly add 1 cup soda water to form a medium thick batter (you may not need it all). Heat 8cm of oil to 180°C. Working in batches, fry tablespoons of the mix for 4 minutes until golden. Repeat until batter is used. Drain on absorbent paper. Serve with spicy mayo.

Roast corn, cocoa butter & ras el hanout
Heat the oven to 180°C. Peel the husks from 6 ears of corn. Brush each cob with room-temperature butter and season with salt. Put into a roasting pan and cook for 8 minutes. Remove from the oven, sprinkle over 2 tablespoons ras el hanout spice and add 40g of cocoa butter buttons to the pan. Return to the oven for an additional 6 minutes. Remove from the oven and baste the cobs with the butter. Serve immediately. Ideal with barbecued meats.

Sweetcorn polenta
Bring 4 cups water to a boil. Once the water is boiling, slowly whisk in 1 cup fine polenta. Whisk continuously to prevent clumps from forming. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the mixture for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. While the polenta is cooking, heat 1 tablespoon butter in a small pan over a medium heat. Add 1 cup fresh corn kernels and cook for 3 minutes until heated through. Stir the corn into the cooked polenta. Add ½ cup grated parmesan and 2 tablespoons honey, stirring until the cheese is melted. Season to taste. Serve instead of potatoes as a side dish.



Mention popcorn and most will say, “Eh… it’s OK.” Yet once they smell the butter and hear the popping they say, “Giz-a-bit.” To me, popcorn is the equivalent of a white T-shirt; never in style, but never out of style, either. It’s what you do with it that matters.


Savoury yeast & black pepper popcorn
Heat a large pot over a medium heat. Add 60ml neutral oil and 30g popcorn kernels to the pot and cover with a lid. Shake the pot gently. Before the kernels start to pop, add 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast, 1 teaspoon black pepper and ½ teaspoon salt. Cover the pot and continue to shake gently until the kernels pop rapidly, then eventually subside. Allow to cool and serve.

Salt & vinegar popcorn
Put ½ cup rock salt into a bowl and stir in ½ cup white vinegar. Put the mixture onto a baking tray and bake at 100°C until the vinegar evaporates and the rock salt is dry (approximately 1½ hours). Grind salt to a fine powder. Heat 60ml oil in a medium pot, add 30g popping corn and cover. Gently shake the pot to coat kernels and cook until all kernels are popped. Sprinkle over the salt and vinegar seasoning to taste. Reserve remaining salt for other recipes.

Parmesan popcorn
Heat 60g butter in a large pot. Once it begins to foam, add 30g popping corn and cover. Gently shake the pot to coat the kernels and cook over medium heat until all kernels are popped. Spread popcorn onto a baking tray and sprinkle over 3 tablespoons powdered parmesan. Bake at 150°C for approximately 6 minutes until the cheese melts onto the popcorn. Cool and season with salt to taste.

Chilli garlic popcorn
Heat a large pot over a medium heat. Add 30g popcorn kernels and 2 tablespoons olive oil or melted butter to the pot, then cover it with a lid. Gently shake the pot to coat the kernels and cook over medium heat until all kernels are popped. Transfer the popcorn to a large bowl. Heat 60ml oil in a small pan over a medium heat, add 1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic and 1 teaspoon chilli flakes and cook until fragrant. Pour the garlic and chilli mixture over the popcorn and toss to coat evenly. Allow to cool and serve.



Caesar salad is attributed to Caesar Cardini. On a hot day in Tijuana during prohibition, his restaurant became swamped by Americans crossing the border for booze. With the ingredients he had on hand, the Caesar salad was born. My gut tells me if Caesar had streamlined the recipe a tad, he may have been able to grab a glass himself. We can all agree that Caesar salad has reached the level of being timeless. The great thing about timeless dishes is that you can rearrange them any which way and, for the best part, they still work.


Grilled romaine hearts with smoked salmon & lemon Caesar dressing

Heat a griddle pan to a medium heat. Slice a baby romaine heart in half lengthwise, leaving the root intact. Put cut-side down onto the griddle and grill for 2 minutes on each side until lightly browned and wilted. Place half a romaine heart on a plate and top with 50g sliced smoked salmon. Mix ½ cup Caesar dressing (see recipe) with the juice and zest of 1 lemon. Add water to thin the dressing to a pouring consistency. Drizzle over each plate.

Avocado & crisp tortilla
Caesar Cut the flesh of 2 large avocados into 3cm chunks and put into a medium bowl. Add 10 large, roughly chopped cos leaves and ¼ cup Caesar dressing (see recipe). Heat the oven to 200°C. Brush four 12cm tortillas with 2 teaspoons each of Caesar dressing. Bake tortillas for approximately 8 minutes until crisp. When cool, break the tortillas into bite-size pieces. Add to salad and gently toss.

Chicken Caesar rice paper rolls
Fill a large bowl with warm water. Dip a rice paper wrapper into water for a few seconds until it becomes pliable. Place the wrapper on a clean, dry surface. Arrange a small handful of chopped romaine lettuce in the centre of the wrapper, then add a few slices of cooked chicken. Drizzle over a little bit of Caesar dressing (see recipe). Fold the sides of the wrapper over the filling and roll it up tightly. Serve immediately, with extra Caesar dressing on the side.

Tahini & lime Caesar dressing
Combine ¼ cup tahini, 2 tablespoons lime juice, 1 clove garlic, ½ teaspoon each Dijon mustard and Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper to taste in a blender. Blend until smooth. With the blender running, slowly add 2 tablespoons each water and olive oil until the dressing is smooth and creamy. Stir in 2 tablespoons grated parmesan.



Miso comes in many colours. The only difference between them is age and potency; the variation is more nuanced than dramatic. No matter what colour, one thing remains true: a little goes a long way and that can make it challenging to get through the whole container. For these recipes just use whichever sort you have. Miso makes an excellent salt replacement, and with a superior savoury flavour it has myriad stunning uses beyond the familiar soup. Trust me on this – with a bit of imagination miso is a secret weapon for giving dishes an extra layer of depth.


Miso-cured seafood
Mix 50g white miso paste and 50g caster sugar in a bowl. Stir in 1 tablespoon each sake and mirin. Spread the miso mixture evenly over oily fish, making sure to coat all sides. Sprinkle a pinch of salt over the top. Cover the fish with plastic wrap and let it marinate in the fridge for at least a few hours or overnight for best results. Remove fish from the cure and brush off the excess. Cook under a hot grill until the juices become clear. The cured fish is ideal with buttered sweetcorn.

Miso dressing
In a small bowl, mix 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce, 1 tablespoon yellow miso paste, 1 tablespoon rice vinegar, 1 teaspoon sugar, 1 teaspoon sesame oil and a small clove of grated garlic. Whisk the ingredients together until the sugar is dissolved and the dressing is well combined. This dressing is stunning for salads, grilled vegetables or grilled meats.

Miso vegetable creme
In a small bowl, mix 2 tablespoons white miso paste, 1 tablespoon maple syrup, 1 tablespoon white vinegar, 1 tablespoon smooth peanut butter and 2 tablespoons sour cream. Allow the mix to come to room temperature. Toss through steamed baby potatoes or broccoli, grilled green beans or corn, roasted pumpkin or kūmara.

Miso butter
Melt ¼ cup butter in a small saucepan over a medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons white miso paste and a clove minced garlic. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture is well combined. Toss through sweet vegetables such as corn or green beans to add flavour contrast.