CSA Week 14 and 15 - Ottolenghi's Sweet Corn Polenta with Eggplant

I managed to time things perfectly with my CSA- I got corn in week 14, and eggplant in week 15, and as soon as I had the eggplant, I made this meal all together!  Fresh sweet corn with sweet butter and salty feta cheese is my new favorite base to build on top of.  It was like mashed potatoes, but was more sophisticated.  I've just never had polenta like this before.  But I should have guessed it would change my life, because Yotam Ottolenghi is a genius with food.
And then the tomato-y eggplant sauce was a wonderful contrast to the sweet polenta.  It was like the best pasta sauce you've had, but with depth from eggplant and a bit more bite to it.  Despite the still summer heat, I loved the warm comforting bowl of polenta and sauce for dinners and lunches at work.  And now that we're having our first couple freezing nights (here on the East Coast at least...), I think this would be even more appropriate to have as a few meals.
I know we're getting out of summer produce, but cheese polenta and warm tomato/eggplant sauce is universal.  Just maybe invite me over for a bowl when you make it :-)
Ottolenghi's Sweet Corn Polenta with Eggplant Sauce (via Food52)
serves 4-6

These two parts of the meal can be made concurrently.  Just make sure you have everything prepped first!

6 ears of corn
2 1/4 cups water
3 tablespoons butter, diced
7 ounces feta, crumbled
1/4 teaspoon salt
Black pepper

Shuck the corn, chop off the pointed top and stalk. Shave off the kernels from each ear; you want to have about 1 1/4 pounds kernels.

Place the kernels in a medium saucepan and barely cover them with the water. Cook for 12 minutes on a low simmer. Use a slotted spoon to remove the kernels from the water and place into a food processor; reserving the cooking liquid in the saucepan.

Process them for quite a few minutes, to break down as much of the kernel as possible. Add some of the cooking liquid if the mixture becomes too dry to process.

Return the corn paste to the pan with the cooking liquid and cook, while stirring, on low heat for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the mixture thickens to mashed potato consistency. Be careful, since polenta likes to sputter over the heat.  Constant stirring will help, or reserve some of the liquid if the mixture isn't very dry- if you like the consistency after just processing, you can skip ahead to the next step.

Fold in the butter, feta cheese, salt, and pepper, and optionally cook for a further 2 minutes. Taste and add more salt if needed.

Eggplant Sauce:
2/3 cup vegetable oil
1 medium eggplant, cut into 3/4-inch dice
2 teaspoons tomato paste
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 cup chopped peeled tomatoes (fresh or canned)
6 1/2 tablespoons water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano (about 1 teaspoon dried)

Heat the oil in a large pot and fry the eggplant on medium heat for about 15 minutes, or until nicely browned. Drain off as much oil as you can and discard it (scoop out the eggplant using a slotted spoon and move to a paper towel lined plate; pour off the extra oil, then add the eggplant back into the pot).  You can reserve the oil for a later use, though it will mostly be useful for one more frying.

Add the tomato paste to the pan, stir with the eggplant and cook for 2 minutes. Add the wine and cook for another minute. Add the chopped tomatoes, water, salt, sugar and oregano and cook for another 5 minutes to let the flavors meld and concentrate. Set aside.

Add some polenta to the bottom of a bowl, and spoon some eggplant sauce on top.  Enjoy hot!

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