Monday, March 14, 2016

Hominy: What Is It and How Do I Cook It?

My first encounter with hominy was in a California supermarket.  A store employee was offering samples of Pozole, a traditional Mexican stew, and stacked on the table were cans of hominy.  The picture on the label showed large kernels of corn, so large that they could have been on steroids.  They tasted like corn, only more so. 
Hominy on the left, Corn on the right
Is hominy a new vegetable?  No.  Here’s how corn transforms into hominy: dried corn kernels are soaked in an alkaline solution, and that process causes the kernels to swell.  You can buy hominy in ready-to-eat form in cans or you can buy it dried in bags.

I bought a can and added a cup of hominy to homemade vegetable soup.  It was definitely a conversation-starter.

Homemade Vegetable Soup - serves 4 

2 large carrots, peeled and thinly sliced 
1 large onion, diced 
1 large stalk celery, thinly sliced 
2 tablespoons olive or canola oil 
1 tablespoon bottled crushed garlic 
1/2 teaspoon black pepper 
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes 
1 15-ounce can ready-cut tomatoes 
1 large zucchini, diced 
3 cups water + more if necessary 
2 vegetable bouillon cubes or 2 teaspoons vegetable base 
1 tablespoon lemon juice 
1 cup hominy 
1 cup leftover cooked pasta (optional) 
1 6-ounce bag fresh pre-washed spinach 
Grated Parmesan cheese (optional) 
Put the oil into a large pot and begin heating over medium-high heat. Add the carrots, onion and celery and cook about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the vegetables begins to soften. 
Add the garlic, black pepper and red pepper flakes and stir briefly. Add the tomatoes and their juice and the zucchini and continue cooking for 5 minutes. Then add the vegetable broth and lemon juice and bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. While the mixture is heating, drain the hominy, rinse it under cold running water and add it to the pot, along with the cooked pasta, if using. 
When the mixture returns to a boil, add the spinach and stir for a few seconds, or until it wilts. If the soup seems too thick for your taste, add 1/2 - 1 cup water and heat until hot. Serve immediately with Parmesan cheese on the side, if desired. Or set aside until ready to eat, and then reheat briefly.
For easy-to-make recipes, order "Help! My Apartment Has a Kitchen!"