The buzz around Yotam Ottolenghi has grown steadily since his first cookbook, Ottolenghi, was published in 2008. Since few of us have a spare moment to dash off to London for a quick taste (it is a weeknight, after all), why not bring some Ottolenghi right into your own kitchen?
This is a meal that allows the eggplant to star on a bed of homemade sweet corn polenta. Even if you're a little swamped, the extra steps it takes to make your own polenta only add deliciousness (in the form of sweet corn and feta). Warm and savory, this Sweet Corn Polenta with Eggplant Sauce reminds us—just as Yotam Ottolenghi himself does—that vegetables can be incredibly exciting.
(Organized by area of the market)
1 medium eggplant
1 cup chopped tomatoes (fresh or canned)
1 bunch fresh oregano
6 ears of corn
7 ounces feta
2 teaspoons tomato paste
1/4 cup white wine
We're assuming you already have vegetable oil, butter, sugar, salt, and black pepper, but if not, add those to your list, too!
With about 45 minutes to dinner, cut the eggplant in a 3/4-inch dice. Fry the eggplant in 2/3 cup of vegetable oil on medium heat for approximately 15 minutes, or until brown. Remove the eggplant from the pan and pour the excess oil into a separate container. Whatever you do, don't throw the oil away—you can use it for your scrambled eggs tomorrow (trust us, it's delicious). Put the eggplant back in the pan and stir with the 2 teaspoons of tomato paste, cook for 2 minutes, then add 1/4 cup of white wine (and pour yourself a glass too). Stir for another minute and then add the cup of chopped tomatoes, 6 1/2 tablespoons water, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon sugar, and 1 tablespoon fresh oregano. Cook for another 5 minutes, until the sauce is fragrant (go ahead and taste a spoonful).
Peel the corn and shave the kernels from the cobs, then simmer the kernels in 2 1/4 cups of water for 12 minutes on low. Remove the corn with a slotted spoon and reserve cooking liquid. Purée the corn kernels in a food processor until they're totally broken up, adding a few spoonfuls of the cooking liquid if it seems too dry. Return the corn paste to the pot and cook until it's the consistency of mashed potatoes, 12 to 15 more minutes. Add in 3 tablespoons butter, the 7 ounces of feta and salt and pepper to taste. Then pour yourself another glass of wine, place a scoop of polenta on a plate, top with the eggplant sauce, and enjoy!
Photo by James Ransom