Northern Spring and Southern Summer Meet, Over Polenta*
I do it every year. I am such a sucker. I can't help but reach for the first decent looking corn and tomatoes at the store every year. Resistance is futile. Yesterday, the man in the grocery store even offered to get me corn that was even fresher than the ones I was ogling. I caved, right then and there. I took two from the corn-pusher man, grabbed two red tomatoes and made my way out in shame. After I get my fix, I lay off the Cali/Mex corn and tomatoes until the Northwestern ones surface. Dinner last night should do the trick for a couple more months. The picture above really does not do it justice. Time to sign up for a photography class!
Fine-grain Polenta with Asparagus and Zucchini
This recipe would be just fine using the coarsely-ground polenta as well. Just be sure to cook it a bit longer and adjust your water ratios accordingly. My friend Dinah taught me this method of cooking zucchini and I am forever grateful. It keeps it from getting too mushy it is deliciously simple. I often cook up zucchini this way just to eat it along. It's that good.
2 Tbs. olive oil
4 c water
1 c fine-grain polenta
one handful fresh basil, coarsely chopped
2 ears corn, cut off the cob or about 1 1/2 c frozen
1/2 c cow or soy milk
2 zucchinis, thickly sliced
1 bunch asparagus
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1/4 c slivered asiago or other hard cheese
salt and pepper, to taste
It is very easy to prepare both the veggies and polenta at the same time, as long as you have chopped and sliced everything ahead of time. It is nice when you do this because then the polenta is still thick and creamy and the veggies are still crisp when you serve it.
For the Polenta:
Bring the water to a boil. Once it boils add the corn, basil, and 1-2 tsp. salt and allow it to cook for two minutes. Add the polenta and continue stirring for another minute. Then add the milk. Turn off the heat and give it a good stirring.
For the vegetables:
Heat one tbs. of olive oil in two frying pans. Place the zucchini in a single layer in one of the frying pans over med-high heat. In the other frying pan place the asparagus (after snapping off the ends, of course!) along with the garlic and desired amount of salt and pepper, over medium heat. Stir the asparagus often, however allow the zucchini to sit on one side until it browns. Once the zucchini has browned each piece over, using a fork (or whatever other utensil suits you) and allow it to brown on the other side. The asparagus and zucchini should each take about 10 minutes to cook. Serve the vegetables over the polenta with a pinch of the asiago cheese. And since I was in the mode of introducing summer early, I served mine with a basil-tomato salad on the side. I swear I have gotten my fix and can impatiently await the arrival of PNW summer bounty.
*Isn't it a cryin' shame that spell checker doesn't recognize the word "polenta?" I fixed that little bug right away!