If you haven’t eaten any sweet corn this summer, now’s the time. I’m not asking you to go out and buy high-fructose-genetically-modified corn — the stuff grown from seed from large companies like Monsanto. I’m talking farmers market, small producer heirloom corn. I doubt many of us west of the Cascades were able to grow any corn this year but one or two of the market vendors from further east can give us our long-awaited summer corn hit. After all, what would summer be without fresh sweet corn and juicy ripe tomatoes?
Paging through Yotam Ottolenghi’s gorgeous vegetarian cookbook, Plenty , I came upon a delicious-looking fresh corn polenta with an eggplant tomato sauce. Straight home from the Wallingford Farmers Market, and ready in time for dinner. By the way, if any of you went into a panic over losing Billy’s tomatoes at the University Farmers Market, you can find them at Wallingford — even his #2’s, which I have a hard time distinguishing from the #1’s, except in price. Sorry, University, wherever Billy goes, I will follow. It turns out that I love the Wallingford market. The setting is lovely, the mood is mellow. I usually go when it opens, around 3:30 and I’ve yet to stand in line for anything. I only wish someone sold fresh eggs there.
Fresh Sweet Corn Polenta
4 ears of corn — husk and silk removed, cut off the cob — the easiest way to do this is break or cut the cob into two pieces. Use the flat surface of each piece to stand the cob upright and cut down each side with a sharp knife.
1 3/4 cup water
3 T butter
3 oz. feta cheese
Salt & pepper
Place kernels in saucepan and cover with the water. Cook on low simmer for 12 minutes.
Using a slotted spoon, lift the kernels from water into a food processor or blender, reserving the liquid. Process several times, breaking as much of the kernel case as possible.
Return corn paste to pan with reserved cooking liquid and cook, stirring on low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until mixture thickens to consistency of mashed potatoes. Fold in butter, feta cheese, salt & pepper and cook for a few more minutes. Serve right away with extra butter melted on top for a side dish or with an eggplant – tomato sauce for something more substantial.
The sweet corn tasted so summery and good, last week I went back for more. I know you can roast corn on the grill but in a pinch, roasting in a hot oven — about 400 degrees for 15-20 minutes works well too. I cut mine off the cob and put in on a sheet of parchment paper on a baking tray for easy clean-up.
Slathered with butter, salt & pepper, it’s sweet and slightly caramelized. If you have any left over, toss it into a salad. I used some with quinoa, tomatoes, a bit of jalapeno pepper and fresh basil dressed with lemon juice and olive oil — so bright and fresh-tasting.
As summer draws to a close, don’t let the corn season pass by. As with all your food, it’s always good to find out where it’s grown. Corn, as it turns out, can be politically tricky so getting it from your local farmers market is your best bet.
If you have a favorite way to eat corn or if you have an opinion about whether it’s okay to eat corn, even from small farms, please let us know. We’re all ears.