Monday, February 23, 2009

Heidi Swanson's Cornmeal Crunch

Heidi Swanson's Cornmeal Crunch

One of the things I love most about food blogging is how many fantastic food writers to which I've been introduced. Some of them are - let's just face the facts - way out of my league, but I love to see what they do with ingredients I've often never seen around here. Some of them are only a step or two above me, but they're often more experimental, and I love learning through them and even sometimes through their mistakes. And then there are others, such as Heidi Swanson of 101 Cookbooks, who have opened my eyes to a world I've never been a part of: the world of vegetarian cooking. She makes vegetarianism so accessible, and her recipes are never boring. Ask anyone who has ever tried one of them.

I'm always looking for new side-dish options, and it's always great to see an old favorite, such as cornbread, made with a twist. (It's even better when you have all the recipe's ingredients in your pantry!) I love trying new things, and although new recipes can sometimes seem daunting I knew this one was right up my alley. It has all the things I love in it: corn, cheese, onions and olive oil. There's nothing shabby about that list, right? At the same time, however, there is nothing intimidating about it, either.

I have to admit that I'm often a recipe-tweaker, but that's not because I don't think the recipe will be great as-is, but it's because sometimes I don't have exactly what the recipe calls for on hand. Such was the case with this recipe: My cornmeal wasn't exactly what Heidi suggested (but it worked.) And I didn't have any yellow onions - I had white ones (but they worked, too.)

To say that this was a fabulous dish would be an understatement. For a dish with so few ingredients it was full of flavor. It came together quickly, and it paired with several of our meals well. We ate it with soup one day; we ate it with chicken another; and on the last day I ate the two remaining pieces with a big, green salad - and that may have been my favorite pairing. It's an accessible and flexible food, and it can be the main attraction or the sideshow. How many other recipes can you say that about?

Heidi Swanson's Cornmeal Crunch

Two years ago: Brownie Trifle