Meera Sodha’s vegan recipe for fresh corn polenta with vegetables and hazelnuts | Vegan food and drinks

lhave thought about the Green Giant recently and how much he has done to inform people’s relationship with sweet corn. I’m not suggesting that canned sweetcorn is bad, just that most of us in Britain grew up eating it rather than fresh – and there aren’t many vegetables for which that is the case. Fresh corn is a different beast: It’s milkier, starchier, silkier, and savory (or modestly sweet) when cooked. Pureed this way, it turns into a rich, decadent base and a perfect partner for some seasonal friends, such as peas, chard and tomatoes, dressed with a little vinegar and oil.

Fresh corn polenta with greens and hazelnuts

Fresh corn is often cheapest when it is most abundant and in season (ie now through October). You will need an immersion blender to puree the corn.

Preparation 20 minutes
Cook 45 minutes
Serves 4

6 corn on the cobhusks and any silk hairs removed (or 1 kg frozen corn kernels, thawed)
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oilplus extra to serve
1¾ tsp fine sea salt
2 tsp aleppo pepper
50 g blanched hazelnuts
coarsely chopped
4 banana shallots (200g), peeled and cut into fine rounds (about 150g net)
1 red pepperfinely sliced
4 cloves of garlicpeeled and crushed
400 g ripe cherry tomatoeshalved
200 g Swiss chardleaves and stems separated, stems cut into 8cm pieces, leaves cut into 5cm wide strips
100 g watercresswoody ends removed and discarded, the rest chopped
200 g peasthawed if frozen
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

Using a sharp knife and a sturdy cutting board, turn a hulled sweet corn on its end and gently run the blade from top to bottom as close to the core as possible to loosen the kernels on all sides. Repeat with the other flasks.

Collect all the grains in a pan and add three tablespoons of oil, 400 ml of water, a teaspoon of salt and the aleppo pepper and stir. Place the pan over medium heat, bring to a boil, put the lid on, turn the heat down and let it simmer for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and pulse with a stick blender or food processor to a coarse puree.

Place the chopped hazelnuts in a wide pan with a lid, place over medium heat and toast the nuts for about three minutes, swirling them around the pan, until just golden brown. Transfer to a bowl, return the pan to the heat, add the remaining three tablespoons of oil, the shallots and the remaining three-quarters teaspoon of salt and cook, stirring, for five minutes.

Add the chili pepper and garlic and cook, stirring, for two minutes. Now add the tomatoes and chard stalks, stir to blend, cover and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the Swiss chard leaves and watercress, cover again and cook and wilt for a further two minutes. Stir in peas and apple cider vinegar, cook, uncovered, for two minutes, then remove from heat.

Spoon the creamed corn onto a platter, sprinkle with the greens, sprinkle over the chopped hazelnuts and serve with a final drizzle of olive oil.