Yotam Ottolenghi's Sweet Corn Polenta with Eggplant Sauce

July 31, 2012
4.6 Stars
Photo by James Ransom
Author Notes

In its entirety, this is a recipe that works and is really, really good. But it's also full of ideas you can parcel out as you see fit—namely, polenta doesn't have to be born out of dry goods. Fresh corn, cooked quickly, breaks down to a sweet soup in the food processor. Adapted slightly from Ottolenghi's Plenty (Chronicle Books, 2011). —Genius Recipes

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Yotam Ottolenghi's Sweet Corn Polenta with Eggplant Sauce
  • Prep time 30 minutes
  • Cook time 50 minutes
  • Serves 4
  • Eggplant Sauce
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 medium eggplant, cut into 3/4-inch dice
  • 2 teaspoons tomato paste
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 cup chopped peeled tomatoes (fresh or canned)
  • 6 1/2 tablespoons water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon chopped oregano
  • Polenta
  • 6 ears of corn
  • 2 1/4 cups water
  • 3 tablespoons butter, diced
  • 7 ounces feta, crumbled
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pinch Black pepper
In This Recipe
  1. Eggplant Sauce
  2. Heat up the oil in a large saucepan and fry the eggplant on medium heat for about 15 minutes, or until nicely brown. 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. You can save the oil to fry lamb chops or eggs in tomorrow.
  3. Add the tomato paste to the pan and stir with the eggplant. Cook for 2 minutes, then add the wine and cook for 1 minute. Add the chopped tomatoes, water, salt, sugar and oregano and cook for a further 5 minutes to get a deep-flavored sauce. Set aside; warm it up when needed.
  1. Polenta
  2. Remove the leaves and "silk" from each ear of corn, then chop off the pointed top and stalk. Use a sharp knife to shave off the kernels -- either 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. You want to have 1 1/4 pounds kernels.
  3. Place the kernels in a medium saucepan and barely cover them with the water. Cook for 12 minutes on a low simmer. Use a slotted spoon to lift the kernels from the water and into a food processor; reserve the cooking liquid.
  4. 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.
  5. 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 to step 5.)
  6. 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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Franca
  • Bevi
  • Matt Mazur
    Matt Mazur
  • epicharis
  • S. Rodriguez
    S. Rodriguez
Genius Recipes

Recipe by: Genius Recipes

110 Reviews

Steve March 20, 2022
Easy, quick and super. I just used regular polenta from a mix. Would be great over pasta, potatoes, rice, bread. Anything.
Zenqi March 22, 2022
I don't mean to be snarky here at all, so please don't take this the wrong way.

Respectfully, please give it another go. One of the best things about this recipe is the polenta. It's NOTHING like regular polenta from a mix, so you really missed what this recipe is all about. And yes, I've used the sauce on pasta and gnocchi - but believe me, the "real recipe" is life changing.
Luciemom August 8, 2021
I have made this a few times using a technique I thought I’d seen here, but I guess not. Anyway, remove the kernels and save the corn cobs, then simmer the cobs for half an hour and use that water to cook the corn for your polenta. Makes for a more intense corn flavor and guests have just about fainted with pleasure!
Franca August 4, 2021
This was sublime. It's corn and eggplant season, therefore I anticipate eating this ridiculously often for the next month or so. Ottolenghi is the ultimate food Rockstar!
Bevi October 10, 2020
Terrific. I also added goat cheese and extra salt and pepper to the polenta. I served with store-bought naan to sop up polenta and eggplant sauce.
Susan August 23, 2020
This is fantastic. I followed the recipe as written with the exception of adding the corn water back in. The consistency was close to mashed potatoes and it just required a bit of simmering. This is a great combination.
suzanne August 21, 2020
Made the eggplant portion last night with eggplant and tomatoes from the garden and liked it. Added some sauteed onion but otherwise followed recipe (but doubled it). My eggplant disintegrated so that it was more a thick sauce with bits vs chunks like in the photo - but no matter. Hated thinking abut all the oil we were consuming but frying the eggplant is what made it better than a normal dish.
Benjamin M. May 15, 2020
Question please - Has anyone enjoyed this dish cold? Or room-temperature after refrigeration? Or would it get gelatinous or otherwise disagreeable? Thx.
Lusty D. May 15, 2020
I think it could be eaten at room temperature, I think it's meant to be eaten hot and it's really good hot.. I think the polenta would become cake like, not very good.
Zenqi March 22, 2022
I have, and it's mouth watering. That being said, I did it "the morning after" when I was craving it - again. I wouldn't necessarily serve it that way, but It's just a mind blowingly delicious recipe.
Bevi April 5, 2022
I have eaten the eggplant portion cold on a piece of toasted bread smeared with mayo. The polenta will harden and you can cut a wedge and fry it and then put some heated eggplant sauce on top. Both great takes on the original dish for next day eating.
Ethyl September 26, 2019
I also used the microwave cooking method for the corn before pureeing it -- I think this helped keep it from being watery, because it thickened up really well. Since fresh sweet corn is on the sweet side, I opted to stir in a spoonful or two of the Trader Joe's Zhoug sauce, which added a really nice hit of spice and freshness to balance the sweetness.
jencordes June 14, 2019
I thought this was really good. I get how others may have thought the corn was too sweet but it was fine for us. So fresh tasting. I did follow the microwave method in cooking the corn. Took the kernels off the cob, microwaved with 1-2 T water for 5-6 minutes and then finished in the food processor. I made the eggplant as written (though doubled) and thought it was great. I just wanted to note that I made both the eggplant, etc., and polenta, a day ahead, minus the addition of feta and butter, which I added as I reheated the next day. Everything was delicious and did not suffer sitting overnight in the fridge. That could be a game changer for dinner parties. I may try making regular polenta with 2 cobs of corn kernels added next time just to mix things up.
Matt M. March 19, 2019
So a tip that might help, after cooking and draining the kernels I run them through a hand crank food mill w a medium grater which will squeeze out excess water, sugars & starches which I reserve and then run the kernels through my food processor.
After a couple minutes in the food processor I put the corn back into the an empty pan and use the reserved water from the mill to add to the corn to get the consistancy I want. If you don't have a food mill I'm sure using a cheese cloth or a tea towel would work too.
Zenqi November 10, 2018
I've made this recipe several times (from the cookbook). I'm glad to see the comments about using less liquid because every time I've made it, it never comes out as "mashed potato consistency," regardless of how long I cook it (and I've cooked it VERY long). Aside from that, this recipe is so incredibly full of flavor and wonderful texture. I've literally told my husband repeatedly that if I had a choice for my last meal, this would be it. Now that I know about using less liquid, it'll be even easier. We even grow our own eggplant and tomatoes to make this dish. BTW, I tried it once with frozen corn and canned tomatoes and it was terrible.
Gabi August 27, 2018
I have Ottolenghi's book and the recipes are usually great. I did not like this dish at all. The polenta tasted so sweet, almost like dessert. The eggplang was very bitter, maybe salting and letting it strain before cooking it would have helped. I was so dissapointed that I would not even trying making the recipe again.
epicharis August 22, 2018
This was very good, and we didn't find the polenta too sweet at all. But the strength of this dish is really how fast it is. If you cut the corn and chop the tomatoes and eggplant the day prior, this entire dish comes together in almost no time. This is a weeknight star for sure.
Emily August 22, 2018
Other than the second degree burn (yeah, the polenta really does sputter) this was awesome. I held the cooking liquid aside and only ended up using a little bit of it. The corn would have been far too runny otherwise. Used an immersion blender as mentioned by others to save on dishes and it worked just fine.
S. R. July 11, 2018
Its ok. A smidge bland. I ended up mashing up about 4 cloves of garlic in mortar and pestle with some salt, olive oil and lemon juice and added it to the still hot tomato stew. I also added some chopped up green olives, just because I like the tomato and olive combo. I ended using about 3/4 of the feta and stirring into the polenta and the remainder I added as a garnish. I would definitely make the stew again, but the polenta...I think I would use it as a corn chowder instead.
Nashi February 2, 2018
A dissenting view -- despite loving most Ottolenghi recipes we didn't like this one at all! Found the sweet corn polenta to be too sweet, I think normal polenta would be better. And overall was just too much mush. If you can figure out a way to add more crunch or texture do that (maybe some nuts or seeds? or have it on the side with something else?).
Tracey W. November 2, 2017
Fantastic, thank you!
caninechef August 7, 2017
I also just made this for the first time. Eggplant was similar but a bit of an upgrade from a standard household recipe. The corn was wonderful though I used many of the tips below ( microwave, immersion blender). Perhaps the original version comes out silkier but I loved the results I got in no more time than it took to make the eggplant sauce. I have to wonder if the original version is geared toward the commercial kitchen and does not hold any real advantages for the household cook making 2-4 servings at a time. It seems other restaurant recipes that have also appeared here have the same issue, techniques that make sense in a commercial setting but are overkill for the home cook.
stephanieRD August 6, 2017
Made the recipe exactly as it was...EXCEPT what I thought was a container of frozen tomatoes leftover turned out to be some marinara (hah, freezer burn got the label), but it still turned out fantastic. My food at-home food critic raved about it. Served this alongside a pork tenderloin and it was a lovely Sunday dinner.
Cheryl February 22, 2017
Very good. I would double the eggplant part of the recipe next time and cook it a little longer. I made regular polenta.