Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Eggplant Sauce on Sweet Corn Polenta
This is another great recipe adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi's cookbook, Plenty.  It's a polenta made with fresh sweet corn and topped with an Eggplant and Tomato Sauce.  Since the fresh corn season is coming to an end, I wanted to use some of the last few stalks of the season from my farmers' market so this was a simple and perfect dish to make.  

In lieu of cornmeal that is typically used for traditional polenta, fresh corn is cooked, then processed in the food processor where it breaks down into a sweet and pasty texture.  It is then added back to its original pan along with some butter and cheese.   I used freshly grated parmesan reggiano cheese, which is not as dense as feta cheese which was part of the original recipe.  As a result, the polenta had some excess liquid, but we strained it.

For the eggplant sauce, I had to add some garlic.  Also, I used olive oil and roasted the eggplant in the oven. 

Although we salvaged the runniness of the "polenta", the dish turned out to be very flavorful.   My meat-eating friend said that if vegetarian food tasted this good, he might give up meat. 
Eggpland and Tomato

Eggplant and Tomato Sauce

1/2 cup olive oil (part for eggplant; part for sautéing garlic)
1 medium eggplant cut into 3/4-inch dice
6 garlic cloves, chopped
2 teaspoons tomato paste
1/4 cup dry white winee
1 cup fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
2 oz water
1/8 teaspoo salt
1 tablespoon fresh oregano, chopped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Toss olive oil and eggplant in a bowl and ensure eggplant is well covered with oil.  Place eggplant on a pan and roast in the oven for about 20-30 minutes, turning as necessary until eggplant is lightly browned and softened. 

Heat some olive oil in a large sauté pan.  Add garlic and cook until slightly aromatic and softened.  Stir in tomato paste, and then add roasted eggplant along with any residual juices from the roasting process.  Add the wine and cook for one minute.  Add the chopped tomatoes, water, salt and oregano and cook for a further 5 minutes to get a deep-flavored sauce. Set aside; warm sauce when needed.
Corn in Food Processor

Sweet Corn Polenta

5 ears of corn
2 cups water, or enough to cover the corn kernels about 1/2 inch
3 tablespoons butter, dicedAsk a question about this ingredient
1 cup grated parmesan reggiano cheese
a question about this ingredient
Shuck each ear of corn, then chop off the pointed top and stalk. Use a sharp knife to shave off the kernels. Stand each ear upright on its base and shave downward, or lay each ear on its side on a cutting board to slice off the kernels.
Place the kernels in a medium saucepan and cover them with the water. Cook on a low simmer for about 10 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to lift the kernels from the water and place into a food processor; reserve the cooking liquid.

Process corn for a few minutes to break as much of the kernel case as possible. Add some of the cooking liquid if the mixture becomes dry.

Return the corn paste to the pan with the cooking liquid and cook, while stirring, on low heat until the mixture thickens to a mashed potato consistency.  If there is a lot of liquid left in the pan, drain polenta while reserving the draining liquid.  Fold in the butter, the cheese, salt and some pepper and cook for a further 2 minutes. Taste and add more salt if needed.  Drain again if there is too much liquid.

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