Sunday, January 9, 2011

Meatless Week: Altering when alteration finds.

So, as we've discussed, Meatless Week in August = delicious, easy, full of tomatoes. Meatless Week in January = far trickier and chock-full of root vegetables. That is, unless you're tricky and decide to buy some sweet frozen corn.

Now, nothing's as good as local corn bought in season, but frozen corn is a pretty close second. It easily kicks the ass of out-of-season corn, no matter how local or organic, that's for sure. And it offers the addict an easy way to get a fix, even in the depths of winter.

Yesterday afternoon, for my first Meatless Week lunch, I decided to tweak a recipe from my summertime meat-free adventure that seemed to go over pretty well with all of you: orecchiette with corn and basil. I substituted tarragon in for the basil (since I had it in the house for some green goddess dip, and since it seems somehow more wintry to me), left out the red pepper, and used some Ronnybrook Creamline milk instead of half and half.

The combination of the delicate licorice flavor of the tarragon played beautifully with the quiet sweetness of corn, and the milk, of course, made things creamy and comforting. All in all, a success for sure, and one that will definitely make a reappearance even when Meatless Week comes to an end.

Orecchiette with Corn and Tarragon

1 tsp. olive oil
1 small shallot, minced
1/2 cup frozen corn, thawed in lukewarm water and drained
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 tbs. tarragon, finely chopped, divided
1/4 lb. orecchiette, cooked to al dente and drained
1/4 cup whole milk

In an 8-inch skillet set over moderate heat, warm the olive oil. Add the shallot and cook for a minute or two, until the shallot has turned translucent and is just beginning to color.

Add the corn and some salt to taste. Saute the corn in the oil and shallots for several minutes, until it is hot and starting to soften just a bit. Season with pepper to taste, then add one tablespoon of the tarragon and cook for a minute or two more.

Add the pasta to the pan and mix well with the corn. Add the milk and continue to cook until the mixture has thickened a bit. Transfer to a shallow bowl and sprinkle with the remaining tarragon. Adjust seasonings to taste and eat!

Serves one.

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