Goes Together Like… Corn and Tomatoes

posted in: Recipes | 3

So many times after posting a recipe, I come up with a slightly weird sister of that night’s recipe for dinner the next night. It absorbs its leftovers, remaining scraps of ingredients from the original and whatever’s left over from something else. Last night’s tart? Onion, roast carrot, broccoli and tomato. As most single cooks out there know, you commit yourself to the ingredients you buy for at least three or four meals, up to a week more commonly. Hence, this week I made more dishes with corn and tomatoes than I’d care to mention but they all were very fresh and flavorful — thanks to the seasonal veggies.

“Corn + tomatoes x 2” was the other name I was weighing over for this post but it sounded too much like an amped-up commercial for a fertilizer product. A few months ago I took two different ingredients on a double spin, too. This time, I stuck with fairly similar dishes using corn and tomatoes: A chile-spiked risotto and a simple pasta inspired from my eating-out excursion in the Finger Lakes.

spicy corn and tomato risotto

shells with corn, tomato, carmelized onion and basil (inspired by a dish from Red Newt Bistro)

It’s been a slow not eating out week. I came back from my weekend getaway with a ferocious, sneezy, drippy-nose cold that only got worse the next day, and plateaued on Day Three. Welcome back to the working week, I suppose. So with little ambition to look outside my kitchen for food supplies, and perhaps less imagination to innovate with what I had, I scraped up these easy meals.

I remember whenever I was sick in the past (meaning that hazy period pre-Not Eating Out in NY), I’d lazily reach for the closest take-out menu and have some greasy cartons of over-salted, over-sauced food at my door in minutes. After eating it — if I could stomach it — I of course felt worse than before. Now, I’m not saying that if I were dying and could barely stand I’d be making risotto. But if I have a few things on hand, a soup is always possible.

Spicy Corn & Tomato Risotto
(makes about 4 side servings)

1 1/2 cups arborio rice
1/4 cup onion, finely chopped
1 or 2 fresh chilis or other mild to medium-hot pepper, such as banana, Anaheim or jalapeno, seeds removed and chopped
1 large or 2 medium very ripe tomatoes, coarsely chopped
cut kernels from 1 large ear of corn
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
2-3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add onions and chile peppers and “sweat” on medium-low heat until onions are translucent, about 6 minutes. Add the rice and stir to coat evenly with oil and toast the grains, about 4 minutes. Add wine and stir until mostly dissolved. Add tomato and a ladleful of the warmed stock and stir frequently until most liquid is dissolved.

Continue adding stock one ladleful at a time, stirring frequently, for about 20-25 minutes, or until the rice is cooked through but slightly al dente on the inside. Add the corn and stir for another minute. Taste for seasoning, adding salt and pepper to taste. Add the parsley, stir once more, and serve immediately.

Cost Calculator
(for 3-4 servings)

1 1/2 cups arborio rice (at $5.99/2 lbs): $1.20
3 cups homemade stock: $1.00
1 cup white wine: $1.00
1 large-ish, green chili pepper (at $3/lb): $0.40
1 ear of corn (at $3/12 in upstate NY): $0.25
1/4 cup chopped onion (at $1/lb): $0.20
1 large, overripe tomato (at $2/lb at the Farmers’ Market): $0.75
2 tablespoons parsley (at $1/bunch): $0.35
olive oil, salt, pepper: $0.25

Total: $5.40

Shell Pasta With Corn, Tomato, Carmelized Onion and Basil
(makes 2 servings)

1/2 lb shell pasta
2 large or 3 medium
very ripe tomatoes, coarsely chopped
kernels from 1 large ear of corn
1 medium-large yellow onion, finely sliced
3-4 tablespoons good extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup packed basil, coarsely chopped or torn
salt and pepper to taste

In a large, non-stick pan, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil and turn down heat to very low. Add the onions and stir occasionally for 20 minutes or so, making sure that the heat is low enough that the onions don’t crisp or brown at the edges. Reduce heat if necessary. Keep stirring until the onions are very translucent and slightly golden in color.

Meanwhile, bring a pot of salted water to boil. Add shells and cook according to package instructions, but making sure to reserve a cup or so of the cooking water.

Once the onions are carmelized, add another tablespoon of oil to the pan along with the tomatoes and cook over medium heat. Add salt and pepper and stir occasionally for about 2-3 minutes. Add the corn and a few ladlefuls of the pasta water. Bring the liquid to a slight boil and let simmer for another 3-4 minutes. Once the liquid has reduced to a thin sauce-like consistency, add the butter and the cooked and drained shells. Turn heat to low and stir to coat the shells evenly. Taste for seasoning, adding more salt and pepper if necessary. Remove pasta from heat and add the basil and remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Serve immediately.

Cost Calculator
(for 2 servings)

1/2 box pasta: $0.70
2 large plum tomatoes (at $2/lb at the Farmers’ Market): $1.40
1 ear of corn (at $3/12 in upstate NY): $0.25
1 onion (at $1/lb): $0.40
1/4 cup basil (from a plant): $0.50
olive oil, butter, salt and pepper: $0.40

Total: $3.65

Health Factor
(for both recipes)

Three brownie points: Because these recipes are really very similar and so veggie-happy, they both get an ultra-low three brownie points. Remembering that herbiage is also a source of vitamins, the more you use, the merrier. Parsley is especially noble for having very low calories, more iron than spinach, and potential for fighting cancer. Think three grams of fiber per ear of corn (doesn’t sound like a lot, but it is considering Cheerios have about one gram per cup), and lots of Vitamin C, A and more cancer risk-reducing lycopene for mushing tomatoes into everything here.

3 Responses

  1. ann

    you know, when I stay home sick, cooking from the pantry always makes me feel better… Funny that, it’s usually pasta or risotto too. I hope you’re feeling better!

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