July 8, 2012
Sweet corn polenta
Page 266, Ottolenghi
After a day full of summer fun at the park with our dear ones, I came home to make Ottolenghi’s ode to summer, sweet corn polenta with an eggplant and tomato sauce. From coffee and swinging and croquet in the morning to creating a perfect farmer’s market-ingredient meal, it was a quintessential summer day.
This polenta uses actual fresh corn, taken off the cob, to make a polenta that is totally unlike the dried cornmeal version that you have probably had. Trust me when I tell you that this one is the perfect summer version – light and creamy, fresh and just the right amount of sweet balanced with the tomato-y eggplant zing. Enjoy this one, friends!
6 corn ears cooked in 2 1/4 cups water
3 Tbsp butter
7 oz feta, crumbled
½ tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper
For the eggplant sauce
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1 medium eggplant diced
2 tsp tomato paste
1/4 cup white wine
1 cup chopped peeled tomatoes (fresh or canned)
6 Tbsp water
½ tsp salt
½ tsp sugar
1 tbsp chopped oregano, plus whole leaves to garnish
First make the sauce. Heat the oil in a large pan, then fry the eggplant on medium heat for 15 minutes, until nicely browned. Drain and discard as much oil as you can. Stir in the tomato paste, and cook for two minutes on medium heat. Add the wine and cook for another minute. Add the tomatoes, water, salt, sugar and oregano, and cook for five minutes, to get a deep flavoured sauce. Set aside.
To make the polenta, chop the very top and bottom off every corn ear. Stand the ear on its base, and use a sharp knife to shave off the kernels. Place the kernels in a medium-sized saucepan and pour in the water, to cover. Add half the butter and cook on a low simmer for 12 minutes. Lift out the kernels with a slotted spoon, and transfer to a food processor. Process for quite a few minutes, to break as much of the kernel case as possible. If the mixture is too dry to process, add a little of the cooking water.
Return the corn paste to the water pan and, over low heat and stirring all the while, cook again for about 10-15 minutes, or until the mixture thickens to the consistency of mashed potato. Now fold in the remaining butter, feta, salt and pepper, and cook for two minutes longer. Taste and add more salt if needed.
Divide the polenta into shallow bowls and spoon some warm sauce in the centre. Garnish the eggplant sauce with picked oregano leaves and serve hot.