I know this is a food blog and all, and generally speaking everything posted here should (and does) taste good, but I have to say, these crab less cakes are one of the best things I’ve made in a long time.
Since the beginning of the year, I’ve been working on getting grains and vegetables in the middle of my plate, and meat more off to the side. And I have to say, finding exciting options seems to be easier than ever with Pinterest, beautiful blogs and many of the main stream cooking and health magazines jumping on board. For example, the recent all-vegetarian e-newsletter from Food & Wine that landed in my inbox. The first recipe under the heading of “Quick Vegetable Main Dishes” – Crabless Cakes with Hearts of Palm & Corn – immediately caught my attention.
But first I had to figure out what exactly are hearts of palm and where do I find them? Knowing what they are seemed imperative to figuring out where to locate them so I started with Wikipedia:
Heart of palm, also called palm heart, chonta, palm cabbage or swamp cabbage, is a vegetable harvested from the inner core and growing bud of certain palm trees.
Palm tree innards? I figured that was going to be a Whole Foods kind of grocery item and I was right – there they were in cans with the nearest neighbor being artichokes.
I cut the serving size down and used this as first course to a recent dinner party and verified it isn’t just me that thought these are the bomb! I sat the cakes on a bed of mixed greens tossed with a tad of my very best olive oil and finished with a dollop of aioli. They were the hit of the evening and guaranteed they will show up at another dinner party soon – if I can wait that long. Heck, I just might make them tonight!
Crabless Cakes with Hearts of Palm & Corn
Adapted from Food & Wine
2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more for frying
2 1/2 cups frozen corn kernels
1/4 cup onion, minced
1/4 cup red bell pepper, minced
One 15-oz can whole hearts of palm—drained, thinly sliced lengthwise and cut crosswise into 3/4˝ lengths
2 tsp Old Bay seasoning
2 Tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup mayonnaise (or Vegenaise)
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp plain dry bread crumbs, plus more for coating
Freshly ground pepper
Lemon aioli (see recipe below)
In a nonstick skillet, heat the 1 tablespoon of oil. Add the corn, onion and bell pepper and cook over high heat until crisp-tender, 4 minutes. Scrape 1 cup of the mixture into a food processor and pulse to a coarse puree.
In a bowl, squeeze the hearts of palm to break them into shards. Add the puree and the remaining sautéed vegetables to the bowl, along with the Old Bay, parsley, mayonnaise, mustard and the 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons of bread crumbs. Season lightly with salt and pepper and stir until evenly moistened.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and fill a pie plate with bread crumbs. Scoop scant 1/4-cup mounds of the hearts of palm mixture into the bread crumbs and roll to coat. Form the mounds into eighteen 2-inch cakes, press lightly into disks and transfer to the baking sheet.
Wipe out the nonstick skillet, then add a scant 1/8 inch of oil. Fry half of the cakes over moderate heat, turning once, until crispy, 2 minutes per side. Place on paper towels. Wipe out the skillet and add clean oil before frying the remaining cakes.
Mix the greens with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and place a small heap on a plate, top with hot cakes and a dollop of lemon aioli.
MAKE AHEAD The formed, uncooked cakes can be covered and refrigerated overnight.
This recipe was a little more freeform. I put a hefty plop of mayo in a bowl (1 cup-ish), added 2 pressed garlic cloves and a splash of lemon juice. Mix well. Taste. Add another splash of lemon juice just for good measure. Season with salt & pepper. Refrigerate until you’re ready to use.