Just today someone asked what my favorite way to eat corn is. If I was back in Ohio, I would say, “Steam, butter, salt and eat.” Right off the cob, typewriter style. And, I might add, make sure the corn was picked that day.
But alas, the corn we get here just isn’t fresh enough to eat this way. At least not to this Midwestern corn snob. Yet, there is hope for the last corn cobs of the season. Fresh corn polenta. If you like polenta, you’ll love this. And if you’re not a big fan, try this anyways. It’s a very different beast than polenta made from ground, dried cornmeal. In this easy version, you just grate the kernels right off the cob and throw them into a pot with a splash of olive oil and some salt. In a few minutes you are rewarded with a pot of sweet, milky and very “corn-y” polenta, ready to be topped with whatever your lovely creative mind can conjure. In this version I added some crispy seared seitan, and swirled an arugula/walnut pesto inside.
Something about the creaminess of the corn, the crispy bite of the seitan (feel free to use your protein of choice here), with the peppery bite of arugula cutting through – makes this one of the best things to come out of my kitchen for a long while. Thank you to Emily at 5 & Spice for the grand notion of grating the kernels of corn for the polenta. Genius.
Fresh Corn Polenta with Seared Seitan
14/ c + 3 T. olive oil, divided
8 oz. seitan strips, or protein of choice
8 corn cobs, husked and grated
1 tsp. sea salt, divided
1 bunch arugula
1/4 c. walnuts, toasted*
1 small garlic clove, chopped
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a skillet over medium heat. Lay the seitan strips down and let them brown. Once browned, flip them over to brown on the other side. It should take about 10 minutes in all. Set aside.
Heat another tablespoon of oil in a small pot or saucepan over medium. Pour in the grated corn kernels and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Stir occasionally until the mixture thickens a little, about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, into the food processor goes the arugula, walnuts, garlic and the other 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Puree into a paste, then drizzle in the last 1/4 cup of the olive oil. It will now be a very moist paste, so I like to drizzle in about a 1/4 c. water to thin it out and make it extra creamy.
To serve, ladle the corn into shallow bowls then stir in a bit of the arugula mixture. Lay some seitan strips on, and top with a dollop more of the pesto.
* to toast the walnuts, heat them in a dry skillet over medium low for about 4-6 minutes, until brown and fragrant.