MEATLESS MONDAY: Hominy and Spinach in Tomato-Garlic Broth

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Hominy is a rather new addition to the grocery list here at Al Dente. I mean, let’s be honest, it doesn’t really fit into the Italian-American food upbringing of The Wife or me. But, it’s funny to think about how close it gets to things on which we were raised.  

Take The Wife for example. Her mother’s family hails from the Italian Tyrol, a region on the Italian-Austrian border north of the lake country. Abundant in these lands were rice and corn, and both were staples of the diet. Polenta was one of those Tyrolean dishes that made its way to the New World to be replicated and passed down generationally. Polenta is cornmeal that is reduced to a mush, combined with onions and cheese, and rendered into a soft loaf.

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Hominy is also made of ground corn, maize actually, and is a staple within Mexican and Southern American cuisine. Without hominy, there would not be (corn) tortillas or grits. It is used like rice to add bulk or starch to soups and stews, and is prominent in many traditional African-American dishes.

It’s abundant, cheap, and versatile. And, it is an all-star in this soup by Bryant Terry from his 2014 book Afro-Vegan.

WHAT WORKED: I had to speed this recipe up as the prep time ran a little long for an evening dinner. I cooked with the lid completely off and simmered at a notch higher than the originally called for.

WHAT DIDN’T: Dry hominy. Terry’s recipe calls for dry here and I couldn’t find it at Wegmans, Price Chopper or Trader Joe’s (I didn’t bother looking at Tops because stopping at a fourth grocery store would have been insane.). I used canned and cutout the step about soaking and boiling because, well, that had already been done.

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EASE OF PREPARATION: Easy to medium. 

BEST FOR: Meatless Monday or an easy to cook Sunday soup.

SERVE WITH: A light-bodied red wine or some sweet tea.

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Hominy and Spinach in Tomato-Garlic Broth
Adapted from Afro-Vegan by Bryant Terry. Recipe found at Serious Eats. 

  • Vegetable oil
  • 1 can white hominy, rinsed and drained well
  • 2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 small to medium carrots, diced
  • 1 celery stock, diced
  • 1/3 medium red onion, diced
  • 1/4 tbsp. sea salt
  • 7 garlic cloves, minced
  • 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes in juice
  • 40 oz. (1 qt. plus 1 cup) vegetable stock
  • 1 cup packed spinach leaves, washed
  • freshly ground black pepper

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Warm vegetable oil (Bryant suggests sunflower; I used canola) in a large saucepan 5 minutes until hot (about 375 degrees). Add 2/3 of the hominy to the oil and deep fry. Stir occasionally until it turned golden, about 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate with a slotted spoon and discard the oil.

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In a large saucepan over medium-low heat, add the oil and wait for it to come to a shimmer. Add the carrots, onions, and salt. Cook until the veggies are soft, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and stir, cooking until that is fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and stock, increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Decrease the heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for 45 minutes.

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Set a fine-mesh sieve or strainer over a second large saucepan. Pour the soup contents into the strainer slowly, using a large spoon or potato masher to press the remaining liquid out of the solids. Discard the solids and return the tomato broth to the burner over medium-low heat. Add the remaining 1/3 of the hominy and return to a simmer. Cook 10 minutes, then add the spinach. Stir to wilt the spinach. Adjust flavors with salt and pepper and serve hot.

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