Beautiful as the natural shapes and textures of vegetables are, there's something very special about pure'ed vegetables too, especially this time of year, when they fairly sing with flavor and freshness.
This sort of thing is actually somewhat trendy. Something called Dialogue of Fruits has become the dessert at pace-setting New York restaurants; pure'es of several fruits are swirled together conversing with one another.
One can do the same with vegetables. Pure'ed carrot (flavored with fresh dill maybe, and saute'ed shallots) can be swirled into a smooth, blended potato soup to lovely advantage. So could a well-seasoned spinach pure'e (laced with garlic and coriander). I've used pure'ed corn and saute'ed scallions as a sauce for fresh chopped spinach, and squeezed half a small green chile in with a garlic press.
For a perfectly smooth texture, a mouli food mill is better than a blender -- sometimes I use both, making a first pass with the blender just to get everything broken up, then put it through the mouli to catch the fibrous bits.
Pure'ed Corn and Bell Peppers is a showy dish, pretty for a summer buffet table. Scoop it up with fresh endive, or sliced cucumber, or crusty french bread or whole-wheat tortillas: or just spoon it up. The Peas and Leeks I like to pile into small bell pepper halves or small tomato shells. PUREED CORN AND BELL PEPPERS (4 to 6 servings)
6 ears fresh corn
2 medium onions, chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
4 teaspoons olive oil
3 large red bell peppers
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon paprika
1/3 cup fresh chopped coriander leaves
Scrape corn from cob and set aside. Saute' half the onion with the cumin in 2 teaspoons olive oil, in a large skillet. When the onion is soft, add the corn and 1/4 cup water. Cover, bring to a boil, and simmer until corn is tender.
Meanwhile, roast the bell peppers over a gas burner or under a broiler until skins are black. Pop them into a paper bag for a couple of minutes, then take out and remove skins. In a small skillet, saute' remaining onion and garlic in remaining 2 teaspoons oil with paprika.
Blend the corn in a blender enough to break up the kernels, then pass it through a mouli blender or a sieve. Clean the blender and blend the pepper with the other saute'ed onion, and pass it through the mouli or sieve too.
Now for the fun. Place 2/3 of the corn mixture on a round platter a little bigger than a dinner plate. Place the bell pepper pure'e in the center, as tidily as you can, and the remaining corn in the center of that. Now, with a fork, trail from the center to the perimeter in curving spidery lines. Make a ring of coriander around the outside and serve it up.
PUREED PEAS AND LEEKS (4 to 6 servings)
2 pounds fresh peas
3/4 pound leeks (3 cups chopped)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large clove garlic, peeled and minced
2 teaspoons fresh thyme or tarragon, chopped
1 small potato, cooked
Salt and pepper to taste
Shell peas. Chop tender part of leeks and then rinse thoroughly -- sand clings in the leaves.
Saute' leeks in olive oil with garlic. When they are nearly tender, stir in peas and thyme or tarragon. Add just enough water to provide some steam, and cover pan. Cook for just 5 minutes or until peas are tender. Blend in blender with enough potato to thicken to desired texture. Add salt and pepper to taste.