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August 3, 2010

Fresh Corn Pesto

Corn-a-palooza 2010 continues! Of course I am referring to those 14 ears of corn I acquired recently. A few days after the bisque, I made this fresh corn pesto. My recipe was inspired by a recent pasta dish by fellow Chicago blogger, Tim, of Lottie + Doof. His pesto sauce was not vegan, incorporating things like bacon grease and Parmesan, but was screaming out to me to be adapted. My adaptations paid off, big time. I dipped a spoon into my food processor to sample a bit of my creation and actually caught myself smacking my lips, immediately followed by going back for more. It is rich and savory, with a slight sweet note from the corn.

I started by sautéing the freshly cut corn kernels with garlic, then pureed the mixture with pine nuts, walnuts, nutritional yeast, and basil. I went easy on the basil as to not overpower the other delicate flavors -- the result was a flavor-balanced cheerful yellow pesto with tiny flecks of green. You can use this sauce for anything you would use a more standard pesto for. Some of mine fatefully ended up atop 4 single-serving whole wheat pizzas, along with thinly sliced red onion, sun dried tomatoes, and a sprinkling of daiya cheese. The rest of it is tucked away in my freezer, where only I know, so don't even try to find it.

Fresh Corn Pesto
(Inspired by Lottie + Doof)
Makes 1-1/2 cups

3 cups fresh corn kernels (cut from about 5 ears)
2 large cloves of garlic
3/4 tsp fine grain sea salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, packed
1/3 cup pine nuts
1/3 cup walnuts
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Place a large dry skillet over medium heat and add pine nuts and walnuts. Toast nuts until the pine nuts are lightly browned, about 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove nuts and set aside. Heat 1/2 tbsp olive oil in the same skillet and stir in corn, garlic, salt, and pepper. Saute about 4 minutes, until the corn is just tender, but not browned.

Scrape the corn mixture into food processor along with basil, pine nuts, walnuts, and nutritional yeast. Turn on the processor and drizzle the olive oil in through the feed tube, and process until almost smooth. Taste and adjust salt and pepper as needed.

You may opt to thin out the sauce with a bit of water - I added 2 tbsp. If you are using this sauce for pasta you can do what Tim did and stir in up to 1-1/2 cups of reserved pasta water, added in 1/4 cup at a time until you achieve your desired consistency for serving as pasta sauce.

In addition to churning out corn recipes, I have been baking! I was asked to bring something to share at a very large attendance barbecue this past weekend. Being the only vegan in attendance I wanted to make something that the crowd would remember. What better way to spread vegan love than with dessert?

Feast your eyes on these vegan delights! Clockwise from the left: Browned Butter Pecan Praline Blondies, Cookies 'n Fudge Brownies, and Double Chip Peanut Butter Blondies. All of the above are featured in Hannah Kaminsky's most recent e-book, Blondies and Brownies.

This massive platter was reduced to crumbs in a few short hours, despite there being plenty of sweet competition. People were shocked and intrigued that these were vegan, and asked me all about vegan baking and eating a vegan diet in general. Hoorah!

I'll leave you with a shot of me the night before the party baking up a storm! Check out my sweet new tofu pirate apron. I did not own an apron (what's up with that?), and when I found this handmade beauty by Panda with Cookie, I knew it was the one for me.