This dish is a reflection of the changing seasons. While the core ingredients; tomatoes, sweet corn and aubergine, feel like summery vegetables its definitely starting to get colder and my body’s craving something to warm me up.. But, I’m still not ready to let summer go. I want to enjoy summer things, and reluctantly accept it’s getting cooler, and so this is where this dish comes in!
I’ve been getting weekly pot luck veg bags*, the past few weeks have been filled with some of my favourite vegetables (and fruit. Ahem, Mr.tomato). So excited by this I’ve made up dishes the past two weeks that I think marry these fun and bright veg with the need to be eating warming foods.
Corn, you probably by now know is one of my favourites. I don’t know why, something about the crunchy, sweet, but not too sweet-ness it has about it. Possibly spending time in Mexico sealed the obsession. Chili drenched corn, delicious things wrapped in corn, crunchy corn, popped corn.. the list goes on..
Polenta is a great dish to make for friends, it’ll usually be a bit of a surprise. A nice alternative to other carbs and the perfect base to add all sorts of tasty toppings to. So warming and comforting and delicious.
Aubergine has always been a vegetable I love, the beautiful silky moreish marriage made by slow cooking with the fresh tomatoes. Oh mama! So good.
I do think this makes a great dish to cook for friends. Meat lovers and veggies alike will love it. It just ticks all the satisfactory boxes, texture wise, the balance of flavours, rich but fresh. Using fresh herbs make such a difference too. So please give it a go!
Next post I’ll have another recipe from the following weeks veg box, and it’s spicy! ;)
So here you go..
Sweet corn Polenta and Slow Cooked Aubergine
Serves 4 as a starter or side dish or 2 as a main course
Slow Cooked Aubergine
1 tb spoon mild coconut oil*
1 onion, thinly sliced
1 bay leaves
1 aubergine, cut into 1inch cubes
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
400g cherry tomatoes, halved
1 table spoon Corinthian vinegar*- or another good quality red wine vinegar
½ teaspoon coconut palm sugar
10g fresh thyme, picked and chopped
10 g fresh oregano, picked and chopped
50ml extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
Sweet Corn Polenta
3 bay leaves
2 sprigs thyme
2 fresh corn, sliced off the cob
salt and pepper
olive oil to finish
Heat a medium sized heavy based frying pan, add the coconut oil, the onions and bay leaves cook 5-8 minutes until the onions are soft.
Add the cubed aubergine and a pinch of salt. Stir occasionally to help release it’s juices and ensure all sides take on colour. Once the aubergine has softened a little, about 5 minutes add your halved tomatoes, vinegar, sugar and thyme and cook on a low heat stirring occasionally for 40 minutes to an hour. Ok, I know this is a long time! But it’s worth it.
You could get away with less cooking time, but especially if you’re not peeling and deseeding tomatoes, cooking for a long time will turn them into a gorgeous, thick, silky mix.
To finish, add the oregano and stir through the olive oil, taste for seasoning, adjust as desired.
For the polenta:
800ml vegetable stock/ water
3 bay leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
50ml olive oil
Bring 800ml of vegetable stock or water to the boil. Add the thyme and bay leaves, turn the heat down and simmer for 5 minutes then remove the herbs from the pan. Add the polenta, bring back to the boil, whisking as you do. Turn the heat back down and continue to cook for 20 minutes, whisking frequently to stop the polenta sticking.
Add your corn to the pan and mix through and cook for another 8 minutes, again whisking to stop sticking. Season to taste.
Spoon onto your plates or serving dishes, top with the aubergine mix, and a drizzle of olive oil. Enjoy!
A few notes :
*My vegetable bag is from Growing Communities, in Hackney, a community led organization providing an organic fruit and veg bag scheme and local farmers market. http://www.growingcommunities.org/
* Mild coconut oil; doesn’t have the coconut flavour, so good for dishes like these. Biona make a mild coconut oil.
*One note of the vinegar I used. This vinegar I have only ever found in wholefoods or online. It’s a Greek vinegar that’s slightly sweet and fuller than normal red wine vinegar, if you can get it use it. Otherwise red wine vinegar or even sherry vinegar will work.
*If you’re using frozen as alternative, cook for just another 3 minutes.