The Herb Box Recipes

Chef Becky Windels capitalizes on what’s ripe now.
Sweet corn polenta cake with sweet hot red chilies

Wondering what to do with the loads of corn, tomatoes, zucchinis and basil that’s piling up at farmers markets or spilling out of your garden? Chef Becky Windels, most recently of The Herb Box (755 Prairie Center Dr., Eden Prairie; theherbbox.com), has a few tasty ideas. Her sweet corn polenta cakes can be served at the center of a gourmet vegetarian meal or offered up as a side, and we have a feeling you’ll be tempted to put her cilantro mint pesto on just about everything.


Rice Bran Oil
Windels uses rice bran oil in all dressings, salsas, pestos and fried foods at The Herb Box, because of its healthful properties and delicate flavor. Rice bran oil can be purchased at Lakewinds Natural Foods in Chanhassen (435 Pond Promenade; 952.697.3366; lakewinds.com).


CILANTRO MINT PESTO

2 bunches cilantro
1 bunch fresh mint
1/2 cup orange juice concentrate
1 cup rice bran oil
1 Tbsp. garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. sea salt
1 Tbsp. pepper

In a food processor, blend cilantro, mint and orange juice concentrate; slowly add oil. Then blend in garlic, salt and pepper. Glaze on grilled corn (or any grilled veggies), fish, lamb or pork. Yields approximately 1 quart.

CORN, BASIL, ZUCCHINI and TOMATO SALSA W/ GORGONZOLA
6 Roma tomatoes seeded & cut into ¼ inch dice
2 zucchini cut into 1/4 inch dice
1 ear sweet yellow corn, removed
1/2 large Vidalia onion, diced
1–2 cups mild blue cheese crumbles
1 bunch sweet basil, sliced
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 cup rice bran oil
1 Tbsp. sea salt
1 Tbsp. pepper

Mix tomatoes, zucchini, corn, onion, cheese crumbles, basil, lemon juice, rice bran oil, salt and pepper together in a large bowl. Yields 1 quart.

 

SWEET CORN POLENTA CAKES
3 cups HOT organic chicken stock
1 cup polenta
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1/3 cup roasted corn
3/4 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1/4 cup organic sugar
1 Tbsp. butter

 

In a medium pot whisk polenta into stock until thickened and pulls from edges of pot. Remove from heat, and fold in remaining ingredients. Splash water onto a sheet pan, add polenta mixture, and refrigerate to cool completely. Form polenta into six to eight 2.5-inch disks. Coat tops and bottoms of each disk in panko breadcrumbs. Heat oil in a nonstick sauté pan. Fry cakes in batches. Top with corn, basil, zucchini and tomato salsa with gorgonzola (recipe above), and garnish with sweet hot red chilies. Yields six to eight polenta cakes.

SWEET HOT RED CHILIES [Candied]
3 lbs. firm hot red chili peppers (slice stems, try to remove as many seeds as possible)
2 cups organic cider vinegar
6 cups organic white sugar
1/2 tsp. tumeric
1/2 tsp. celery seed
3 tsp. granulated garlic

Bring cider and sugar to a boil. Add chilies, tumeric, celery seeds and granulated garlic. Use as a garnish on the sweet corn polenta cakes. Yields approximately 1 quart.