A few weeks ago, I was invited to a “Blues Crawl, a blueberry-theme dinner. The evening started with a Blueberry-Jalapeño Margarita from The Arlington Club. Then we proceeded to tasting Blueberry Tamales from Fonda Chelsea Restaurant. The main course was Blueberry-Coffee Rubbed Skirt Steak served with Tomato Confit and Mascarpone Polenta from The Delicatessen. The evening ended with LAVO NYC’s Blueberry Semifreddo with Essential Blueberry Sauce. All the savory dishes brought out blueberries’ tart and juicy flavor without tasting similar to a dessert.
The evening inspired a few dishes in my own kitchen, including Blueberry-Coffee Rubbed Chicken Thighs (Get the recipe here) served over whole-wheat couscous. The other inspiration from the evening is a light and quick spin of the experience of tasting Fonda’s Blueberry Tamales. Pictured in the Blueberry-Coffee Rubbed Chicken Thighs served over whole-wheat couscous is a Blueberry Hominy Salad with Dandelion greens.
Hominy is the old can sitting in the back of someone’s pantry. For this recipe, continue leaving the canned hominy alone. Instead order online or visit a speciality health store for dried hominy. Soak the kernels overnight. Rinse and drain rehydrated kernels, and place them in a slow cooker. Cover them with water seasoned with salt and pepper at least one-inch deep (crushed red pepper was added to my pot). Cook the hominy at a high temperature for about four hours. Let cool and drain. They’re now ready to stir into scrambled eggs, soups and toss into salads, such as the salad in this story.
Along with earthy hominy, juicy blueberries are tossed with baby spinach and dandelion greens. Dandelion greens, known for their vibrant flowers airy seeds and being annoying weeds add a bitter contrast taste in salads. It’s a flavor needed if the ingredients are on the sweeter side. To continue balancing the flavors, creamy chunks of Mexican queso fresco cheese turn a simple salad into a robust side dish for the Blueberry-Coffee Rubbed Chicken Thighs served with couscous. Completing the inspiring “Blues Crawl” meal are two tablespoons of Blueberry-Thyme sauce from the Blueberry-Coffee Rubbed Chicken Thighs whisked into the vinaigrette for the salad.
The complete blueberry-themed meal thankfully didn’t taste like a table of desserts. Instead, the sweet blueberries enhanced the savory flavors of the salad (especially the Mexican queso fresco) and the coffee spice blend. The meal also had another ingredient discovery: Dried hominy. It’s a new pantry staple in my kitchen as the canned version remains deeply hidden in my cabinets.