Corn Cake Summer Salad with Arugula and Sweet Peaches

Corncake Salad with Arugula & Sweet Peaches I never thought I’d consider lunch a luxury. Before having Manster three years ago, each meal I ate was carefully considered. I’ve been working freelance for about 10 years, so it wasn’t hard to find 30 minutes to invest in a proper lunch – whether homemade or takeout. But once Manster arrived, forking food straight from the fridge was a pretty standard scene around noontime. Rolled up deli meats, hunks of cheese, a bit of an apple here, half a banana there – whatever it took to quiet the rumble.

Now that Baby Ice has appeared, lunch is even more ridiculous, usually because I’m scrambling out the door to pick up someone from camp or put someone else down for nappies. It’s a miracle I haven’t choked to death.

That’s part of the reason that I decided to slow it down a bit for this month’s Secret Recipe Club, and focus on a recipe that would force me to sit down and eat a real lunch. One that required a fork and a knife. And a plate.

My assigned blog – The Pajama Chef – is helmed by Sarah, an academic librarian based out of Nashville who strikes me as one of those naturally calm, serene souls. Her website is full of tempting yet healthy recipes – Grapefruit & Arugula Salad, Corn Soup with Peaches and Mango Curry – but I couldn’t stop thinking about her Corn Cake Salad. This summer salad is high July on a plate: heaps of fresh peaches, peppery arugula and mounds of lightly fried corn cakes seasoned with basil and topped with a tomato/avocado relish. I adapted the recipe a bit – mainly by adding Old Bay to the corn cakes and substantially paring down the salad ingredients.

I adored this dish, so much so that I actually took a breath, sat down and ate it…by myself…at the dining room table. Heaven.

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Corn Cake Summer Salad with Arugula and Sweet Peaches and Tomato/Avocado Relish
Makes 10-12 Corn Cakes
Serves 3-4

Ingredients for corn cakes:
3 large ears of corn, shuck and remove kernels with a sharp knife – $1.77
1 cup all-purpose flour – stock
½ cup cornmeal – stock
¼ cup onion, finely diced – $0.89
¼ cup thinly sliced fresh basil – $1.99
1 teaspoon baking powder – stock
½ teaspoon baking soda – stock
1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning – stock
Salt and freshly ground black pepper – stock
2 large eggs, lightly beaten – stock
2 Tablespoons milk – stock
2 Tablespoons butter, melted – stock
Canola oil – stock

Ingredients for relish:
1 large tomato, chopped finely and seeded – $1.89
1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped – calculated above
1 clove garlic, pressed or minced – stock
Juice of half a lime – $0.25
1 avocado, diced – $1.50
Salt and freshly ground black pepper – stock

Ingredients for salad:
Baby arugula – $2.49
2 ripe peaches, pitted and sliced thin – $2.99
Drizzle of Balsamic vinegar – stock
Grand total assuming well-stocked kitchen: $13.77
Cost per serving: $3.44

1. Place 2 cups of the corn kernels in a food processor and pulse several times to render the corn chunky but still pureed. Transfer the corn to a bowl with the remaining whole kernels, then stir in flour, cornmeal, onion, basil, Old Bay, baking powder, and baking soda. Season with salt and pepper, then gently mix in eggs, melted butter and milk.

2. Prepare the relish by mixing together all ingredients except avocado and salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve, then fold in avocado. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

3. Coat the bottom of a large nonstick skillet with a thin layer of canola oil and heat over a medium-high flame. Form cakes by rolling 3 tablespoons of batter in your hands, then placing in the skillet. Fry for 1-2 minutes per side until golden brown and crispy. Place on a plate lined with paper towels.

4. Arrange arugula and sliced peaches on plates, drizzle Balsamic vinegar over top and gently toss. Serve corn cakes over salad garnished with tomato/avocado relish.

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