Okay guys, hear me out here. This is a slight curve in the road for me, and it may sound a little strange, but it is SOOOOO good.
I’ve mentioned my Florida sister before. Well she just flew in for a short visit, and can usually be counted on for a new recipe or two to share. I am not disappointed. Yes, it sounded a little strange to me, at first, but the more she told me, the better it sounded. My bigger concern was whether my husband would eat it/like it. He likes most of the ingredients, but would he like them together? AND it has Feta cheese, of which he is not really a fan. I decided not to tell him it was in there. OOOPS! Well, he never realized it – it kind of melts into the corn.
She found this recipe over on food52.com, where it is adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi, and what a find. This is the perfect time of year for this dish, as it uses fresh vegetables that are all in season. AND it is surprisingly filling. You won’t leave the table hungry. My dad did say he would have appreciated a slab of beef…..
Anyway, there are some changes here from the original recipe, and, for my own tastes, I would not see any need to change from what we did. Did I mention this was REALLY good?
NOTE: The “ripeness” or maturity level of the corn makes quite a difference in the polenta. My family all prefers our corn on the young side, without a lot of starch. This does make for a thinner, less starchy polenta. The riper the corn, the more starch it will have, and the thicker it will finish.
As always, you can change this up quite a bit to suit your taste. You could certainly add meat to it if you like, chicken, sausage, pork, whatever. My husband thought it needed to be spicier (haven’t I mentioned his love of adding heat to everything?). You could add more than a tablespoon of herbs as well. More eggplant, less tomato, whatever. Be brave…be daring! Try this and you won’t be disappointed. In fact I think you will be pleasantly surprised. I was.
- EGGPLANT SAUCE
- ⅔ cups vegetable oil
- 1 medium eggplant, cut into ¾-inch dice
- 2 teaspoons tomato paste
- 1 large shallot, finely chopped (optional)
- ¼ cup dry white wine
- 1½ cups chopped tomatoes, fresh or canned, peeled or not. (we didn't peel them but we did seed them-your choice)
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon chopped Rosemary, oregano, basil, or any other sort of fresh herb you like.
- 6 ears of corn
- ¼ cup water
- 3 tablespoons butter, diced
- 7-8 ounces feta, crumbled
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Black pepper to taste
- EGGPLANT SAUCE
- Heat up the oil in a large saucepan and fry the eggplant on medium-high heat for about 15 minutes, or until nicely brown. (You could do this in two batches if necessary) Drain off as much oil as you can and discard it -- the safest way to do this is to scoop out the eggplant to a plate using a slotted spoon, then pour off the oil into a bowl before adding the eggplant back in. Add the tomato paste and shallot if using to the pan and cook until the tomato paste browns a bit. and stir in the wine. Cook for 2 minutes, then add the eggplant, chopped tomatoes, salt, sugar and rosemary and cook for another 5 minutes to get a deep-flavored sauce, adding a little water if needed if it gets too thick. Set aside; warm it up when needed.
- Remove the leaves and "silk" from each ear of corn. Using a sharp knife or a mandolin, cut the kernels off the cobs. Scrape the cobs to get the pulp. You want to have about 1¼ pounds kernels. Place the kernels in a medium saucepan and add the water. Cook for about 12 minutes on a low simmer. Use a slotted spoon to lift the kernels from the water and into a food processor; reserve any cooking liquid. Process them for quite a few minutes, to break as much of the kernel case as possible.
- Add some of the cooking liquid if the mixture becomes too dry to process. Now return the corn paste to the pan with the cooking liquid and cook, while stirring, on low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the mixture thickens to mashed potato consistency. (Be aware that if you have a lot of liquid left in the pan, it can take a while to cook down the polenta, and it will sputter. Consider holding back some or all of the liquid. Alternately, if you like the consistency after processing, you can skip the second cooking.) Fold in the butter, the feta, salt and some pepper and optionally cook for a further 2 minutes. Taste and add more salt if needed.