Sweet Corn Cakes w/ Zucchini


Since we live in the middle of America’s heartland, surrounded by farms, small roadside vegetable stands abound throughout the Summer.  Everywhere you see signs for produce and now in August, signs for sweet corn prevail.  This sparks much discussion as to which vendor has the plumpest, sweetest variety and to date there are as many opinions as there are stands.

One can’t help but chow down on sweet corn while it is in season.  Sweet, crispy, juicy and very versatile, it is Summer gold.  This will be the last of my corn rants and recipes for this year but I had to give you just one more before we enter into the bounty of Fall harvest.

Today we are making corn cakes.  I added a small grated zucchini as well because it too is a seasonal beauty that is so prolific we are always searching for places to use it.  They make a great pairing and the zucchini adds a bit of color contrast as well.  Not being a fan of the green squash, my husband exclaimed after biting into one of these cakes, “you can’t even tell it is in there.”  I guess that was a good thing at least in his mind.


Presenting Summer’s finest.

CORN CAKES w/ ZUCCHINI                                         Makes about 6 cakes

Recipe by Jeanne Raffetto Tentis

1 ear sweet corn

1 small zucchini

1 t salt

1 T freshly grated lemon zest (1 lemon) plus 1 lemon cut into 8 wedges (optional)

8 sprigs flat leaf parsley, stems removed and leaves finely chopped

1-2 medium clove garlic, minced or pressed

1 oz. pancetta, thinly sliced and cooked crisp, crumbled (omit if you desire vegetarian)

¼ t freshly ground pepper

Pinch of cayenne pepper or to taste

2 lrg. eggs, lightly beaten

¼-½ c all-purpose flour

2-4 T olive oil or cooking oil of choice

  1. Husk corn and cut kernels from the cob.  Place kernels into a bowl large enough to hold remaining ingredients.
  2.  Using the large holes of a box grater, grate zucchini.  Add to the corn along with the salt, lemon zest, parsley, garlic, crumbled pancetta, pepper, cayenne and eggs.  Mix well to combine.  Slowly add flour, using as much as needed for desired thickness, stirring so no lumps form.  Mixture should be thick enough to scoop but not pasty.
  3.  Heat 2 T of oil in a large sauté pan over medium high heat until the oil sizzles when you drop a small amount of corn mixture into the pan.  Carefully drop about 2 T (I use a medium-sized scoop) corn mixture into the pan; repeat spacing cakes a few inches apart.
  4.  Cook cakes until golden, 2-3 minutes.  Turn cakes, and continue cooking until golden, about 2-3 minutes more.
  5.  Transfer cakes to a plate, set aside in a warm place.
  6.  Cook remaining corn mixture, adding more oil to pan, if necessary.
  7.  Garnish with parsley sprigs and lemon wedges, if desired.

This is a very versatile recipe.  You can make it completely vegetarian by eliminating the pancetta or change it to a seafood dish by adding crab or shrimp. Can’t find pancetta?  Substitute bacon or ham.  Don’t like zucchini?  Add more corn.  No corn?  Use all zucchini.  If you like a some heat, add a minced jalapeno pepper or add more cayenne. Try your own version and serve it for brunch, a light lunch or as a side with dinner.  Paired with an Italian Prosecco it made a light and refreshing hot weather meal.


Labor Day weekend means saying farewell to Summer and hello to one of my favorite seasons, Autumn.  The cool air, crisp nights, changing leaves and the rainbow of harvest colors that grace the markets delights my soul.  If only it didn’t mean the coming of Winter.  Oh well, think soups, stews and long braises that fill our home with warmth and inviting aromas.

Enjoy the weekend and what is left of this season.  Remember to spread the love, one Summer dish at a time.  Until next time.




8 responses to “Sweet Corn Cakes w/ Zucchini

  1. Jeanne, I enjoyed your thoughts on sweet corn vendors, summer gold, alternate zucchini uses, and even the merits of impending (colder) seasons. (Can’t bring myself to mention the “w” one yet, ha!) Thanks for such a versatile recipe, too. Hope you had a great long weekend. Here’s to extending summer as long as we can.

  2. Thanks, Kim. I am making Tuscan Tomato Soup today with my garden tomatoes. It is fresh and so aromatic. Watch for the recipe. Coming up soon. I will raise a glass to Summer. Thanks for your comment, keep them coming. QJ

  3. Elizabeth Palmer

    This is on the menu tonight! I am in awe of the bounty in the garden and at farmer’s markets right now. Plan to celebrate this perfect late summer day with the sweet corn cakes and a Caprese salad. Looking forward to the Tuscan Tomato Soup recipe; do hurry, I am awash in heirloom tomatoes right now (but I’m not complaining)!

  4. Thanks for your comments, Elizabeth. The Tuscan Tomato Soup will be posted tomorrow. I suggest you look in the archives at some of my posts from last year at this time. I put up many recipes throughout the Summer and Fall for those cherished garden delights, including another tomato soup recipe which is excellent. Check it out. Thanks again.

    • Elizabeth Palmer

      Jeanne, none of the following will surprise you, but the corn/zucchini cakes were delicious and well-received by my husband! Sage growing next to the parsley in the herb garden was added, as well, to good effect. And Hard Cider was a delightful drink to accompany it! I will study the soup recipes; thanks for that.

  5. Thanks for the feedback, Elizabeth, Adding sage sounds like a great idea. I have a large herb garden so always happy to hear of new uses for them. I also think a bit of tarragon would be a good compliment. Hard Cider! Love that pairing, it suits the season so well. If you are salad lovers, check out the recipe for parsley salad from last year. Great to hear from you. Keep the comments and ideas coming! Spread the love, QJ

  6. I made the sweet corn cakes today and they were so flavorful. The lemon stood out and it made the cakes so fresh tasting. It helps the diet when foods can be eaten without an accompanying sauce! I used crumbled bacon instead of pancetta. Great recipe and I was happy to say that my corn cakes looked just like the picture.

    • You are a sweetie, and I am so glad this recipe worked out for you. Keep it up and soon you will be featured on Food Network.com. Love that you follow my blog and love that you keep on cooking.

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