Irecently thought about the green giant and all it has done to inform people’s relationship with sweet corn. I’m not saying canned sweetcorn is bad at all, just that most of us in Britain grew up eating it rather than fresh – and there aren’t many vegetables for which it is. is the case. Fresh corn is a different beast: it’s milkier, starchier, silkier, and more flavorful (or slightly sweet) when cooked. When pureed like this, it turns into a rich, decadent base and a perfect partner for some seasonal pals, like peas, chard and seasoned tomatoes with a little vinegar and oil.
Fresh sweet corn polenta with greens and hazelnuts
Fresh corn is often the cheapest when it is most plentiful and in season (ie now through October). You will need an immersion blender to puree the corn.
Preparation 20 mins
To cook 45 minutes
6 cobs of sweet cornhulls and silken hairs removed (or 1 kg frozen sweetcorn kernels, thawed)
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oilplus extra to serve
1¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
2 tsp Aleppo pepper
50g blanched hazelnutscoarsely chopped
4 banana shallots (200g), peeled and cut into thin rounds (about 150g net)
1 red pepperthinly sliced
4 garlic clovespeeled and crushed
400g ripe cherry tomatoeshalved
200g chardleaves and stems separated, stems cut into 8 cm sections, leaves cut into strips 5 cm wide
100g watercresswoody ends removed and discarded, remainder chopped
200g peasthawed if frozen
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Using a sharp knife and a sturdy cutting board, place a peeled sweetcorn on its end and carefully run the knife up and down as close to the kernel as possible, to free the kernels of any sides. Repeat with the other ears.
Collect all the grains in a saucepan and add three tablespoons of oil, 400 ml of water, a teaspoon of salt and the Aleppo pepper, and stir. Place the saucepan over medium heat, bring to a boil, then put the lid on, lower the heat and boil for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and, using a hand blender or food processor, puree coarsely.
Put the chopped hazelnuts in a large saucepan that you have a lid for, then put it over medium heat and toast the nuts for about three minutes, moving them around the pan, until they turn golden brown. Transfer to a bowl, return the pan to the heat, add the remaining three tablespoons of oil, the shallots and the remaining three-quarters of a teaspoon of salt and cook, stirring, for five minutes.
Add the chili and garlic, and cook, stirring, for two minutes. Now add the tomatoes and chard stems, stir to combine, then put the lid on and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Add the chard leaves and watercress, cover again and cook and soften for another two minutes. Stir in peas and apple cider vinegar, cook, uncovered, for two minutes, then remove from heat.
Pour the corn cream on a platter, garnish with greens, sprinkle with chopped hazelnuts and serve with a final drizzle of olive oil.