Hello readers! Sorry I have been away for so long without a new post. This summer has been crazy busy and really fun. David and I have been hanging out in Wisconsin, exploring Mackinac Island, and have spent 3 weekends in a row hanging out with family, so I have not had a lot of time to cook, photograph, write, edit, and post. (That binge watching of Stranger Things didn’t help either 🙂 ) Now that the craziness has died down, I’m looking forward to cramming in some summery dishes before the leaves turn and the world is taken over by everything Pumpkin Spice. Now that it’s late summer and tomatoes are worth eating and corn is sweet, I thought this dish would beautifully showcase the flavors of summer. The sweet and crispy corn fritters are complemented by the deliciously flavored string bean ragout, fresh basil, and a rich drizzle of balsamic reduction. Make sure to prep and measure the ingredients before beginning, and choose a nice, dry wine to use in the recipe. If you’re cooking with a wine as well as serving it, it should be a nice one worth drinking.
slightly adapted from: The Vegetable Butcher
serves: 4 to 5
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeño or serrano pepper, stemmed, seeded, and finely diced (I used 2 serrano peppers)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
3/4 pound string beans (or a mix of yellow wax, green, purple, or Romano beans) cut on a diagonal into 1 inch lengths
1 1/2 pounds Roma or plum tomatoes, stemmed, seeded, and coarsely diced
1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt, plus extra as needed
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus extra as needed
1/2 cup dry white wine such as Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc (I used a Sauvignon from New Zealand)
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 to 2 tablespoons butter (optional)
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced
3 cups fresh corn kernels (from about 4 ears)
2 tablespoons minced shallots
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (I used a gluten free flour blend)
1/2 cup canola oil
1/4 cup Balsamic Reduction (see recipe below)
Heat the olive oil in a deep sauté pan over medium heat. Add three quarters of the garlic and cook, stirring often, until it just becomes fragrant, 30 to 60 seconds; do not let it brown. Add the jalapeño and tomato paste, stirring well to break up and incorporate the tomato paste. Turn the heat up to medium high, add the string beans and cook, stirring to coat, for 1 minute.
Add the tomatoes, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper and cook, stirring, until the tomatoes begin to ‘melt’, 2 minutes. Add the wine and bring to a boil. Turn the heat to medium low, add the thyme sprigs, and simmer until the beans are tender and the tomatoes have completely melted into a thick, chunky sauce (there should be no watery liquid remaining), 20 to 25 minutes. Remove the thyme sprigs. Stir in the butter if you wish and half of the basil. Adjust the salt and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and keep warm.
Meanwhile, combine the corn kernels, remaining minced garlic, shallots, eggs, remaining teaspoon of salt, and remaining 1/8 teaspoon of pepper in a medium bowl. Stir well to incorporate the eggs, then stir in the flour until fully incorporated. The batter will be firm enough to hold together but loose enough to spread slightly in the pan.
Place some paper towels over 2 wire cooling racks. Heat the canola oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until it begins to shimmer, then reduce the heat to medium.
Working in batches, spoon batter into pan in 1/3 cup sized increments. Do not overcrowd the pan (I cooked 4 fritters at a time). Fry the corn fritters until they are golden brown and crispy, about 2 1/2 to 4 minutes on each side. Transfer the fritters to the prepared cooling rack(s) and sprinkle them lightly with salt. Remove any stray kernels from the pan. Continue to fry another round of fritters. Reduce the heat if the fritters brown too quickly at any time or if the corn starts to pop.
The fritters are best straight out of the pan, but you can make them ahead and store them in a single layer on a baking sheet, for up to 2 hours. Reheat them at 425 F until warmed through and crispy, about 6 minutes.
Serve the fritters immediately, topped with hearty spoonfuls of the bean ragout, the remaining basil, and a generous drizzle of Balsamic Reduction.
makes about 1/4 cup
1 cup balsamic vinegar
Place the vinegar in a small, heavy saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to low and gently simmer until the vinegar reduces to about one-quarter of its original volume, about 20 minutes. Check the consistency; it should be syrupy and coat the back of a spoon. Simmer slightly longer if needed.
Store the reduction in an airtight, heatproof container in the refrigerator; it will keep indefinitely. When you are ready to use it again, bring it to room temperature. Place the uncovered container in hot water until you can stir the reduction, adding drops of hot water as needed to thin it to your desired consistency.