Ingredients from the garden, the farmers market and the pantry come together for a lunch of fresh corn and Cannellini with Cherry Tomatoes and Rosemary. Recipes below.
A recent Saturday found us in the kitchen with random produce and the need to be eating lunch right now. Marion had picked up some fresh ears of corn at the farmers market in Daley Plaza downtown, and there was a bowl of freshly picked cherry tomatoes from our yard on the counter. And even though we are decidedly not vegans [as even the most casual Blue Kitchen reader could tell you], a quick vegan lunch seemed just the ticket.
The funny thing is, it wasn’t a conscious decision. Seeing the tomatoes reminded me that I had recently been doing versions of my Tuscan beans, minus the mirepoix, but with tomatoes, either canned or fresh. I knew they’d be delicious with the wonderful yellow and red cherry tomatoes Marion had been getting from our yard this year. For her part, Marion was eager to show off an amazingly simple way to prepare fresh corn, making it so juicy and sweet you didn’t need butter or even salt. The whole lunch came together in under fifteen minutes. And it was only as we sat down to eat it [devour it] that we realized it was totally vegan.
Cannellini with Cherry Tomatoes and Rosemary
1 15-ounce can cannellini beans [or other white beans], drained and rinsed
1 or 2 cloves garlic, minced
1 generous tablespoon fresh rosemary needles [see Kitchen Notes]
2 or 3 tablespoons olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1-1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved if large [or other tomatoes—see Kitchen Notes]
Combine beans, garlic and rosemary in a sauce pan or skillet. Drizzle with oil and season with salt [lightly—the beans may provide plenty of salt] and black pepper [generously]. Stir to coat beans with oil and set aside for several minutes to let garlic flavor the dish. Warm over a medium flame for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Gently stir in tomatoes and heat until just warmed through, 1 to 2 minutes. When the skins of whole cherry tomatoes start to split open, the dish is ready. Adjust seasonings and serve.
Rough up your rosemary. First, fresh rosemary is definitely best with this dish. To get the most flavor from rosemary [or most herbs], don’t treat it with kid gloves. Handling it roughly releases more of its flavorful oils. Sometimes I’ll roll a rolling pin or the side of a drinking glass over a sprig of rosemary to bruise it. Here, because I wanted whole needles, plucking them from the stems provided sufficient manhandling.
You say tomato, I say cherry tomato. This has been a blah year for tomatoes, but a great one for cherry tomatoes. So use them if you can get them. Or grape tomatoes, another great bite-sized choice. But you can also chop up a regular tomato or two if that’s what you’ve got. Keep the pieces chunky. And in a pinch, you can even use canned tomatoes. I’d use just about a cup of well drained diced tomatoes.
Quite possibly the best—and certainly the easiest—fresh corn you’ll ever make
You know the old adage about if it sounds too good to be true, it’s not. Yeah, not this time. This corn on the cob is amazing—and amazingly simple to prepare.
As with all simple recipes, starting with great ingredients is key. In this case, it was the corn—Mirai sweet corn, to be exact, a special hybrid developed by Twin Garden Farms in Harvard, Illinois. You can find it at farmers markets throughout Chicago and the suburbs as well as in a couple of cities in Iowa and Wisconsin. You can also buy it at their farm. But any good fresh sweet corn still in its husks will do.
Here’s the recipe: Lay an ear of corn, still in its husk, on a paper towel in the microwave. Microwave it for one minute. Turn it over and microwave it for another minute. Done.
Let it rest for a few minutes and carefully peel off the husks and silk—it stays hot for a good long while. Just as carefully, eat it. If you absolutely must, add butter and/or salt. But try it without first. If you started with good corn, it will be juicy and sugar-sweet. Honestly, butter and other adornments will just get in the way of the taste.
Yeah, this recipe is all over the Internet. Here’s why I wasn’t skeptical about it when Marion suggested it [I mean, besides the fact that it was Marion suggesting it]. I remembered reading [and saving with the best of intentions] an article in the New York Times by Mark Bittman about cooking with a microwave oven. Not reheating already prepared food, but actually cooking fresh food—primarily vegetables—in the microwave. Bittman cites cook/writer/roasting maven Barbara Kafka, who devoted an entire book to the subject, Microwave Gourmet, saying that microwaving fresh vegetables is not only faster than other methods. The food looks better, tastes better and is more nutritious. The corn sold me. I have reprinted out Bittman’s article, “You Use It Every Day. But Can You Make It Cook?” —and this time, I’m going to put it to good use.
Oh, yeah—no second post this week. We’re at the tail end of a glorious, much needed vacation, a road trip to Toronto. It was all I could do to get this post done. I’ll be back with two next week.