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
- Husk corn and cut kernels from the cob. Place kernels into a bowl large enough to hold remaining ingredients.
- 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.
- 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.
- Cook cakes until golden, 2-3 minutes. Turn cakes, and continue cooking until golden, about 2-3 minutes more.
- Transfer cakes to a plate, set aside in a warm place.
- Cook remaining corn mixture, adding more oil to pan, if necessary.
- 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.