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The (3rd Place) Award Winning Salad: Tomato & Jalapeno Corncake Salad with Bacon Dressing

August 14, 2011

Tomatoes are a wonderful thing here in Tennessee. Our prize jewel for dealing with 100+ temps and 80% humidity for much of the summer. But I will admit that this summer is the first year that I have really come to experience and understand that for my own. These tomatoes really are incredible… for anyone who just “doesn’t like tomatoes”, I feel you cannot fairly make that statement until you have traded that picked-when-it-was-still-green-and-turned-red-with-gas Florida tomato for a juicy tomato product of a Tennessee summer. If that doesn’t convert you, I don’t know what will.

We love our tomatoes so much here that every summer the folks over in East Nashville throw the Tomato Art Fest in its honor. I think the “art” part of that equation throws people off, and I honestly cant speak much to what is involved there other than seeing lots of your usual street fest vendors hocking some pretty fun tomato themed items. But it is a fun (albeit hot) time for all with some delicious food, fantastic people watching, and interesting musical entertainment.

This year I decided very last minute (as in 2 days before the event) to enter the recipe competition. The theme this year was Tomato Salads and I had to work quick to get the wheels in motion. I already had an idea in mind, but spent the next 2 nights and early Saturday morning experimenting and taste testing. After the whole charade I came away with alot more respect for restaurant chefs. It’s one thing to come up with a recipe on the fly in your home and have it be delicious. It’s a whole other mentally tasking event to continually experiment until you feel you have it just right and are willing to present it to others and against other dishes. And then be able to regurgitate it into a recipe. (Must remember this next time the hubs and I are talking wistfully of opening a restaurant)

But all that goes to say – the hard work paid off – and I brought home 3rd place! A very special shout out to my dear friends Dana Cheng for providing her garden fresh jalapenos and to Taylor Vick and my wonderful husband for their taste buds and critiques. So without further ado I give you……

TOMATO AND JALAPENO CORN CAKE SALAD WITH BACON DRESSING

1 fresh heirloom tomato, cut into ½ inch cubes
Handful of fresh salad greens
2 small Jalapeno Corn Cakes (see recipe below)
Bacon Dressing (see recipe below)
 

Place lettuce in bottom of salad bowl, top with corn cakes and tomatoes, drizzle with warm bacon dressing.
 

JALAPENO CORN CAKE

¾ cup corn kernels
1 shallot, chopped

4 small diced jalapenos
2 cloves of garlic, minced
4 Tbs olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 egg
1 cup white cornmeal
2 Tbs all purpose flour
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp cayenne
1 tsp butter 

In a sauté pan heat the 3 Tbs of the oil over medium heat. Add corn, shallot, jalapeno, garlic and ½ tsp salt to the oil and cook until softened, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool. In a separate bowl beat the buttermilk and egg, add the remaining dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Add the corn mixture to the batter and mix to combine.

Heat pan to medium again, adding the remaining 1 Tbs olive oil and 1 tsp butter. Add small spoonfuls of the batter to the hot pan and cook until browned, roughly 2 minutes each side. Once cooked through, set on a papertowel to drain and cool.
 

BACON DRESSING

4 slices of good quality thick cut bacon
1 tsp honey

¼ cup olive oil
3 Tbs red wine vinegar
pinch of salt

Chop bacon into small cubes and cook in a large skillet over medium heat until crispy. Pour the bacon & grease into a small jar. Add remaining ingredients and shake. Serve warm. 

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