Monday, August 23, 2010

Meatless Week: Monday blues.

Meatless Week is off to a lazy start here chez Queenie. I had a seriously nasty, scary bout of food poisoning over the weekend, and I stayed home today to ensure a complete recovery before returning to work. As a result, I was worried my first day of Meatless Week would be one of dry toast and diet ginger ale, but while I was still absolutely exhausted, my stomach actually felt pretty hardy today.

For lunch, I made Frankie's Spuntino's tomato and avocado salad. (As opposed to their beet and avocado salad, which I've swooned over previously.) I practically licked the plate when I ordered this at the restaurant a few weeks back, and so I was very, very excited to be reminded of it in an NPR podcast over the weekend. I promptly added avocados to my FreshDirect order (Did I mention that I am in love with my iPhone?) and got ready for the excitement.

Now, I was bleary and sleepy when I ate, so I don't have a photo to accompany my accolades, but you know what I do have? A second avocado. So I think I can promise you that this salad will be making a second appearance later this week. In the meantime, avail yourselves of the recipe. You won't be sorry.

Dinner, coming after a further three hours of napping, was a less sleepy effort. I didn't want to do anything too crazy, but I was pretty hungry. The result? A tomato and cucumber salad, alongside a dish of orecchiette with corn. Pasta with corn always strikes me as slightly over-indulgent (carbs upon carbs), which is one of the reasons I love it oh-so-much.

This is the kind of recipe with which you can - and should - play fast and loose. Leave out the pepper, sub in browned butter for the olive oil and sage for the basil, and it's something new and different. Add a bit of soy and ginger and omit the cream, and it's a bit Asian-fusion-y, in that delightfully mid-90s, inauthentic, guiltily delicious way. Whatever you do, make sure the corn is either local, fresh and sweet or - I know, craziness - from the freezer. There's no point making this with insipid, tasteless corn. None whatsoever.

Orecchiette with Corn and Basil

2 ears corn, shucked
1 tbs. olive oil
1 red pepper, diced
4 scallions, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic (one if the cloves are large), thinly sliced
1/8 cup basil leaves, thinly sliced
1/3 lb. orecchiette pasta, cooked to al dente and drained (reserve 1/4 cup of the cooking water)
1 tbs. heavy cream
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

If there is any bit of the stalk left on the corn, slice it off to create a flat surface. Stand the ear of corn on its flat end and slice down the side, cutting away the kernels. Repeat on all sides of the ear until the cob is stripped of its kernels. Set aside the corn and discard the cobs.

Warm the olive oil in a medium skillet set over medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot (slightly shimmering, but not smoking), add the red pepper, scallions and garlic to the pan. Cook for a few minutes, until the scallions are very soft and the garlic lightly golden.

Add the corn kernels to the pan and mix with the aromatics. Salt and pepper this mixture fairly generously, and saute for two or three minutes, until the corn is just softening. Add about half the basil and half the reserved cooking water to the pan and continue to cook until the liquid in the pan is reduced to a syrupy coating.

Add the cooked pasta to the pan, along with a tad more of the cooking water, and cook the pasta and sauce together for a minute or two. Turn off the heat and add the remaining basil and the cream to the pan. Stir to combine. Taste, adjust seasonings (I find that adding the cream means adding a bit more salt and pepper), and serve immediately.

Serves two.


Richard said...

Only at Chez Queenie is this a lazy day of cooking!

Richard said...

(And I'm def making that tomato/'cado salad ASAP - and the orecchiette!)

Meg Blocker said...

YES! The pasta is good - the salad is revelatory. Seriously.

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