Fresh Corn Polenta & Pickled Cherry Tomatoes

People often ask me why I don’t participate in a CSA. I tell them I enjoy food shopping, especially when it involves diving deep into a market, scouring through piles of vegetables. I like talking to farmers about the nuanced differences between heirloom tomatoes varietals and how the aromas found in different honeys vary depending on which flower’s nectar they suckle. A trip to the market sometimes results in over shopping. Knowing what to do with a few too many vegetables is key. Last week, for example, I got seduced by what felt like the last tomato harvest of the year. With a serious case of FOMO, I ended up buying a couple too many heirlooms, cherry, and plump Roma tomatoes. There was no way we could eat these before they started wrinkling in their own skin. I wasn’t going to throw these delicate, plump pockets of summer goodness away, so instead I pickled the cherry tomatoes, roasted the Roma tomatoes, and made an awesome tomato sauce. I saved summer in jars, didn’t waste a thing!

Having made pickles only once before, I settled on a simple recipe made using just five ingredients: water, sugar (I subbed out for honey), salt, tomatoes, and herbs. Within a day’s worth of time, I was devouring tangy-sweet pickled tomatoes straight out of the jar carelessly. These are a game changer. Different from pickled cucumbers; pickled tomatoes are sweet, bursting with a complex combination of umami, tang, and freshness. The longer these sat in the refrigerator, the more interesting they became.

From first bite I was looking for other ingredients to pair these tomatoes with. The briny-ness of the pickles was begging to be paired with something rich and sweet. Since corn is a perfect match to tomato, I figured a fresh corn polenta would be able to handle the acidity of the tomatoes flawlessly. Unlike polenta, this recipe calls for fresh corn. Its kernels are quickly cooked, then whipped until smooth and seasoned with garlic, tahini, and miso.

You can eat this dish as you would polenta, or you can eat it as dip. Either way the combination of acidic tomatoes again creamy, sweet corn is delicious. Each mouthful is a taste of endless summer.

Pickled Cherry Tomatoes

 Cook time: 30 minutes, plus 8 hours pickling time

  • ¾ cup apple cider vinegar
  • ¾ cup water
  • 4 tsp. kosher salt
  • 2 tsp. honey (or maple syrup if vegan)
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 4-5 sprigs fresh thyme

Place vinegar, water, salt, and honey in a saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil and stir to dissolver salt and honey. Remove from heat and let cool for 20 minutes. Rinse tomatoes under running water. Pat dry. Using a fork pierce each tomato once. Place tomatoes in a large clean jar. Pour cooled brining liquid into jar with tomatoes. Add springs of thyme. Close jar and let stand at room temperature for 2-8 hours. Refrigerate afterwards.

Fresh Corn Polenta

Serves 3 

Cook time 10-15 minutes

  • 4 ears corn
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp. sea salt, plus more to taste
  • Juice ½ lemon
  • 1 tbsp. miso paste
  • 1 ½ tbsp. tahini

Place an ear of corn, long side down, on a cutting board. Using a sharp knife cut off kernels. Rotate corn and continue cutting off kernels around all four sides. Place corn kernels, olive oil, and garlic in a large skillet. Add salt and cook, tossing occasionally over medium heat for 5 minutes. Corn should be bright yellow and tender. Transfer cooked corn into a food processor with lemon juice, miso paste, and tahini. Pulse until smooth. Taste for seasoning and adjust if necessary.

To serve

  • Fresh corn polenta
  • 6-8 pickled tomatos, cut into quarters
  • Coarse sea salt
  • Olive oil

Cut tomatoes into quarters. Spoon polenta onto a plate. Add 6-8 pickled tomatoes. TO garnish, add a couple cilantro leaves , a drizzle of olive oil, and a pinch of course sea salt. Eat immediately on its own, over toast, or with chips.