Beets and Beet Greens, North African Style
1/2 cup dried fruit (cherries, craisins, raisins or chopped apricots)
4 to 5 large or 8 to 10 small beets, greens removed and stemmed, sliced 1 inch thick
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 shallots, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
1 tablespoon orange zest
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon honey
¼ cup chopped mint
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
6 cups thinly sliced beet greens or chard, stems removed
Roast the beets in a 350-degree oven until tender, about 45 minutes to one hour depending on the size of the beets. Peel and slice into 2-inch chunks. Plump the dried fruit in hot water to cover for about 15 minutes. Drain and reserve the soaking liquid. Heat the oil in a large skillet set over medium and sauté the shallots for a few minutes, then add the beets and cook for about a minute or so. Add the dried fruit plus ¼ cup of the soaking liquid, the orange juice and zest, cinnamon, nutmeg and honey and simmer for about 2 minutes. Add the greens and continue cooking until wilted, about 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the mint and salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Fresh Corn Soup with Cherry Tomatoes
8 ears fresh corn, husks and silk removed
10 sprigs fresh thyme
1 small bay leaf
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup chopped onion
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 pint fresh cherry tomatoes, diced
¼ cup chopped basil
Put the cobs along with the thyme, bay leaf into a large saucepan or soup pot and add enough water just to cover the corn. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 15 minutes. Remove and discard the cobs.Cut the kernels from the cob.
Then stand the ears upright on a plate or in a shallow bowl and scrape a spoon or the back of a knife down each row to remove all of the pulp and milk leaving behind the kernel skins. You should have between 3 and 4 cups of kernels and juice. Melt the butter in a large heavy saucepan over medium heat.
Add the onions, a little salt and pepper and cover, cooking until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the corn kernels and their juices. Add enough of the corn stock to cover the corn and bring to a simmer. Cook until the corn is very tender, about 20 minutes.
Puree the corn in batches in a blender. If you prefer a smooth soup, strain this through a sieve before turning the soup back into the pot. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Stir in the chopped cherry tomatoes and chopped fresh basil and serve warm or at room temperature.
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