Where has all the corn gone?, that's what I want to know. A few weeks ago the stallholders of Ridley Road were shouting at me to buy six ears for a pound and now I can't find anything in my usually reliable spots. The season's over I suppose. I don't think I used its abundance as well as I might. This altered my plans slightly to cook sweetcorn polenta with aubergine, another ace looking combination of flavours from Plenty. Instead of the six ears of corn specified I used two I already had and made up the rest of the vegetable bulk with potato and butternut squash. Unless you are baking most recipes can take more than a little fiddle...
For the vegetable puree the squash, potato and sweertcorn were all boiled in salted water until tender. They made a trip to the magimix and a chunk of feta, olive oil and salt and pepper all followed. I think any combination of sweetish vegetables would work well here and a little salty feta primes the resulting gloop well.
The sauce is very easy - no onions to sweat and no fancy flavours. Fry the aubergine in plenty of oil, add tomato puree, wine (given a lack of wine some white wine vinegar stood in well for me), a tin of tomatos and herbs (dried thyme and oregano for me) over a period of forty-five minutes or so whilst stewing gently the whole time.
For something on the side we had spinach (adult naturally, tastes better than the boring baby stuff) with chickpeas and the reliable combo of cumin, chilli flakes and smoked paprika.
I would recommend frying some breadcrumbs to tip over the top of the glorious mush for some textural contrast. I seem to be become a bit of a fan-boy but I've got to say that Mr Ottolegnhi delivered again on this dish. Granted it does look and feel like baby food but it's deeply warming for a night of late autumn and the sweet-sharp taste of the silken, vinegar stewed aubergine prevents it from being actually infantile.
Not a bad likeness, huh?