The Everyday Table: Aubergines with Sweetcorn Polenta

I finally (finally!) got a new phone. I was going to keep going with the-phone-with-the-broken-camera ad infinitum but I dropped it and smashed the screen a few weeks back and it seemed to be a sign. A ‘just get a bloody new phone’ kind of sign. So I did. Now I have a working camera on my phone and I have already begun taking photographs of ordinary life again. I posted a picture to Instagram on Monday of our dinner and there seemed to be a few interested responses so I thought I might start a series here, documenting our ordinary dinner days. Like other attempts at series on this site, heavens knows how long it’ll last. But here goes.

I’m calling this series ‘The Everyday Table’. I’m hoping to post fairly frequently but sometimes these things are best left unplanned, lest it all falls apart. These are non-recipes (to coin Food52, whose new-ish app I will also be posting to too) – I generally do not cook weekly dinner with the aid of recipe books (although I use them for ideas and inspiration) and this series will show you that. So don’t expect weights and measures but guidance and advice.

To start, yesterdays dinner recipe was based on the sweetcorn polenta in Ottolenghi’s Plenty cookbook. Last week, I went slightly crazy at the fruit and vegetable stall that comes twice weekly to work and bought: sweetcorn, aubergines, two varieties of tomatoes, lettuce, courgettes, peaches, nectarines and two punnets of strawberries. Summer produce! We’ve been eating our way slowly through it all and by yesterday (Wednesday) only some of the tomatoes, the aubergines and sweetcorn were left. So I decided to reconstruct a recipe I haven’t made for about five years but remember distinctly. I followed the main steps, rather than the ingredient amounts. I fried up some halloumi that needed using to serve on the side. I made enough for leftovers for today’s lunch (for both of us, although they are reasonably small portions).

Aubergine and Tomato Sauce with Sweetcorn Polenta

Adapted from Ottolenghi’s Plenty

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Dice 2 aubergines into chunks and fry in olive oil on a medium heat in a large saucepan until brown (be generous with the olive oil) and beginning to caramelise (about ten or so minutes). Slice half a red onion and add to the aubergines. Add in a generous squeeze of tomato paste, a handful of tomatoes, a glug of water, and either a tin or box of tomatoes (my box was 320g). Half fill the box/tin with water and add to the mixture. Stir everything and turn the heat down so the mixture simmers. Cook until slightly thickened and reduced, about 15 minutes. While the sauce is cooking, slice the corn kernels away from the cob of two sweetcorn. Simmer in water for 10 minutes. Drain, reserving a ladle of the liquid. Blitz into a puree, thinning with the cooking water as necessary (I find it needs very little additional water). Season with pepper. Add in a half cup of feta and a generous grating of parmesan. Season with salt, if necessary. Serve with the aubergine sauce. (The aubergine sauce makes very good pasta sauce too.)