Great Grains: Celebrating Our All-American Grain, Corn

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I’m writing this on the 4th of July, a day when we celebrate America, and what could be more American than corn? Corn (known as maize in much of the world) is as central to the peoples of the Americas as rice is to Asia.  Simply put, it is fundamental. As many of you know, I grew up on a farm in the great Midwestern corn belt where in summer we lived amongst a sea of waving corn. July days were often so hot and muggy all you wanted to do was jump in a cool lake. However, we knew better than to complain, as corn loves the heat, and grows so fast you can it see shoot up from day to day. An abundant corn crop meant money in the bank, and survival for another year. Most of that corn was field corn, the kind kept in the field until fall, harvested dry, and used for cattle feed, corn oil, and these days, ethanol. But we and neighboring farmers also grew sweet corn under contract to the Green Giant Company, whose canned and frozen corn was sold world wide.  During the five or six weeks sweet corn was in season, my memory is that we ate it every single day and never tired of it. So, I suppose you could say corn is in my blood, and to this day I pretty much love all things corn. So, for the next few weeks, I will be offering corn recipes, including one for Fresh Corn Tofu Frittata (after the jump). Previously, I’ve posted recipes for millet and corn croquettes, lemon cake made with cornmeal, and corn pudding.  Enjoy!

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This award-winning corn was shown at the 2008 Olmsted County Fair, Rochester, Minnesota (photo by Jonathunder, via Wikipedia)

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FRESH CORN TOFU FRITTATA

Traditionally, of course, a frittata is an egg dish, rather like a flat omelet with ingredients mixed in rather than laid on top. Here I’ve substituted tofu to bind the frittata and provide creaminess. The veggies are cooked briefly on the stove top, then combined with the seasoned tofu mixture and baked in the same pan in which the veggies were sautéed. This recipe can be endlessly adapted to whatever ingredients, fresh or left over, you have on hand. Some of you will notice that this recipe is similar to a corn pudding recipe I posted earlier. One thing I plan to do from time to time with the blog is vary and refine previously posted recipes.

Preheat oven to 350˚ F

Serves 6 as a main course, 10 as a starter

1 medium onion, peeled and cut in small dice

1-2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced (optional)

2 1/2 cups of corn kernels, cut from 4 medium ears of corn

2 medium zucchini, grated

1/2 cup diced sun-dried tomatoes

4 green onions, trimmed and coarsely chopped

1/4 cup chopped cilantro or parsley, optional

1/4 teaspoon chipotle powder, optional

14 ounces firm tofu

1/2 cup yellow cornmeal

3 tablespoons light miso, or to taste

2 teaspoons umeboshi vinegar, or to taste

salt and pepper, to taste

olive oil, or oil of choice for sautéing

1. Heat a 10 to 11-inch frying pan, cast iron preferably, add a little oil. When the oil is hot, throw in the onions and garlic and sauté, stirring frequently, over medium high heat, 2-3 minutes. Sprinkle in a little salt and few cracks of black pepper.

2. Add the corn, zucchini, green onions, sun dried tomatoes and chipotle, if using. Turn down heat to medium and continue to sauté 4-5 minutes more or until the corn is cooked, but still crisp-tender. Pour the veggies into a mixing bowl, and wipe the fry pan clean.

3. In a food processor, purée tofu, cornmeal, miso and umeboshi vinegar until smooth, add in about 1/3 of the vegetable mixture. Purée again. Combine the contents of the food processor with the veggies in the bowl, add the parsley or cilantro, stir everything together. Taste, and adjust seasoning.

4. Pour the mixture into the frying pan, smooth the surface and bake in a 350˚ F oven about 35 minutes, or until light golden brown on top.  Cool at least 10 minutes before cutting and serving.  Can be served warm or at room temperature.

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One response

  1. Thank you, Gary, for the corn recipes! I love the photo of the corn where I was born, Rochester, MN! I only recently got into fresh corn, but now that I have tried it, I love it! I’m looking forward to your recipes as we continue to enjoy the summer harvest!

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