Sweet Corn and Brussels Sprout Salad with Rosemary and Pecans

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So, I’ve missed you all. It’s been awhile, and life has pulled in so many directions in the last 6 months – our first trip to Italy with Shauna and Danny, saying farewell to my grandma and my great aunt – the Sutherland clan is a little light on history without those two. Speaking at conferences, a new role at Edelman, celebrating a cousin’s wedding, and throughout – cooking as meditation to unwind after work, and to wind up for the weeks ahead.

I owe you some grander stories, some beautiful photos, but right now, there is salad. A dear friend, Gina, requested this recipe after seeing this image on Instagram. Apparently all I need to get back here is for someone just to ask. Life really is that simple sometimes. So I’ll get over the writing drought just by getting on with it, because you need to feast on this salad while the corn is still fresh at the farmer’s market.

Crunchy, tangy, herbal, salty, sweet…this salad hits all the notes. If you’re feeling feisty, add a little red pepper flakes or aleppo pepper. Just make it – you won’t regret the 20 minutes of chopping and mixing needed here, and if you happen to dive into the salad before it cools in the fridge a bit, I won’t blame you.

Bless you, Gina, for reminding me that sometimes, you just have sit down and WRITE, and not worry for the perfect photo or words to capture the moment. Let’s eat.

Sweet Corn and Brussels Sprout Salad with Rosemary and Pecans
Serves 2-3 as a side dish, or one as a main course

2 ears of fresh sweet corn, kernels cut off the cob
4-5 brussel sprouts, washed, outer leaves removed,
2 T minced onion
3 T toasted pecans
2 ½ T olive oil, divided
2 T sherry vinegar
½ tsp dijon mustard
½ tsp kosher salt
½ tsp dried rosemary
4 basil leaves, rolled and sliced into ribbons
2 T crumbled feta
fresh ground black pepper to taste

  1. Combine the rosemary and salt in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle and whiz/bash them together a bit to release the oils in the rosemary and break it down into smaller pieces. Set aside.
  2. Chop up 2-3 T of onion and gather into your hand and rinse under cold water for a few seconds to mute the strong onion flavor. Drain, and set aside.
  3. Make the vinaigrette. Combine 2 T sherry vinegar, 2 T olive oil, ½ tsp dijon, and 2 pinches of the salt & rosemary in a small bowl. Whisk together with a fork. Don’t worry if the vinaigrette is on the tart side, the corn will soak up much of the acid. Set aside.
  4. Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat, then add the pecans and toast for 2-3 minutes until you the aroma meets your nose, shaking the pan a few times while they toast. Pour the toasted nuts onto a cutting board and chop into small pieces. Set aside.
  5. Return the pan to the heat, and add the remaining ½ tsp of olive oil along with the 2 ears of corn kernels. Add another pinch of the salt/rosemary mixture and toss together in the pan with a rubber spatula. Heat through for 1-2 minutes, just enough to unlock some of the sugar in the corn, but not long enough to cook – you still want the corn to have some crunch.
  6. Add the vinaigrette to the pan and gently stir, then pour the corn into a bowl. Add the pecans and a pinch of black pepper and stir. Taste, and add additional salt/rosemary, if needed. Let the corn cool in the fridge for a few minutes so the flavors can blend.
  7. Take the corn from the fridge, and add in the crumbled feta, onion, thinly sliced brussels sprouts and sliced basil. Toss, taste and serve. If it needs more salt, another splash of vinegar, adjust seasoning until you’re happy.

 

 

Roasted Polenta Wedges


Polenta is one of those comfort foods that I adore, yet I seem to forget about it most of the time. It’s humble food – there’s nothing really flashy about this thick corn porridge, yet it can be dressed up into something marvelous with very few ingredients.

In November, I was reminded about how much I love polenta at the Safe & Sound Allergy-Free Dinner at Chicago’s BOKA restaurant. One of the courses in the awesome meal included a few cubes of the creamiest polenta I’ve ever had. They were crisp on the outside, but soft and creamy inside. I could have eaten a whole bowl of those little cubes. I’ve been pondering how Chef Tentori achieved this culinary marvel (without any dairy at all) and I’m guessing he was using a much more finely ground polenta than what I had in the pantry for this recipe.


I’m no Chef Tentori, but my polenta is quite tasty and fills the bill when the craving for comfort food hits. After you roast the polenta, it’s lovely and crisp on the outside and still soft inside. YUM. One batch of polenta makes a lot, so you can make these lovely polenta wedges and dip in that fabulous tomato butter sauce, while having plenty of leftovers to say – spread some olive tapenade on, or make openface polenta pizzas. The possibilities are wide open with polenta as your culinary blank slate.


Roasted Polenta
Serves 5

1 1/2 cups corn polenta
4 cups water
1 T butter
2 T olive oil (I used the garlic oil from my mojo de ajo)
3 T half & half
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 tsp kosher salt

  1. Heat a large non-stick skillet (that has a lid) over high heat. Pour in the water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and slowly pour in the polenta, stirring constantly. Add the butter, thyme and rosemary. Cook for about 10 minutes, until all the water is absorbed and the polenta begins to pull away from the edges of the pan.
  2. Add the half & half, pepper 1 tsp salt, cayenne and most of the grated parmesan (leave a little bit for garnishing later) – stir to incorporate.
  3. Spray a half sheet pan (or 9×13 baking pan) with olive oil. Turn the cooked polenta out into the sheet pan, and gently smooth the polenta into one layer using a spatula. Sprinkle on the reserved parmesan cheese and then chill the polenta until you’re ready to prepare dinner – at least 3 hours, so the polenta has time to firm up.
  4. Roasting the polenta: Preheat the broiler. Remove the polenta from the fridge, and turn the polenta out onto a large cutting board. Cut into desired shapes – slender fingers or large triangles for a main course. Lightly spray the sliced polenta with olive oil. Place the polenta on a sheet pan, and broil for 15 minutes, turning the pieces over halfway through. Serve piping hot.

268 cal/serving, 100 cal from fat, 11.3g fat, 15mg cholesterol, 25mg potassium, 33g carbs, 3g fiber, 6.7g protein