Corn & Pepper Panko Schnitzel with Tomato Relish – just the name of it makes me hungry! This vegetarian alternative to schnitzel is perfect for summer. Top these crispy corn cakes with fresh tomato relish and Greek yogurt or sour cream. It’s a truly delicious meatless meal.
When summer rolls around, two ingredients jump to the top of my “must cook with” list– corn and tomatoes. When I was a little girl, my Grandpa Avey had a vegetable garden where he grew rows of corn and big, beautiful, vine-ripened tomatoes. During the summer I would help him harvest, pulling the tomatoes from the vine and smelling that wonderful aroma from the stem that lingered on my fingertips. We’d pull the ears of corn from the stock, then I’d help my grandma shuck them in the kitchen, peeling the whisper-soft silks from the cob. Corn and tomatoes became forever associated with sunshine, gardening, and family.
Nowadays, it is almost obligatory that I cook with corn and tomatoes during the summer. A few summers ago, I combined three of my favorite foods– schnitzel, corn and heirloom tomatoes– into this delicious Corn & Pepper Panko Schnitzel. I added Mediterranean spices to a simple corn batter, then added a roasted pepper for sweetness and depth. Grilling the corn and pepper added even more summery flavor to the mix (that’s optional, though). The result was irresistible!
Because of concerns over pesticides and GMO’s, I try to find organic corn whenever possible. It can be somewhat tough to track down nowadays; I tend to have more luck at our local farmer’s markets than at the grocery store. Frozen or canned corn will work, too. Any tomato will work for the relish, even cherry tomatoes – just choose the sweetest you can find.
I prefer grilling the corn and pepper prior to making the schnitzel; it adds an extra step but also kicks up the flavor substantially. If you’re in a hurry, no worries– just skip the grilling and use a pre-roasted, peeled pepper (from a jar is just fine). To save even more time, make the corn batter, cover, and refrigerate up to overnight. The refrigeration makes the batter easier to handle, and will save on your prep time right before dinner.
This recipe makes 8 corn schnitzels. They are about the size of thick silver dollar pancakes, or large latkes. If we’re eating it as an entree, we usually serve 2 to 3 per person with relish and some side salads. Bigger appetites may want 3 or even 4 per serving, so feel free to double the recipe if you’re feeding a crowd. They are wonderful topped with a dollop or sour cream or Greek yogurt, too.
This is a terrific vegetarian alternative to traditional meat schnitzel, with so much flavor that nobody will feel deprived. Enjoy!
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Beauty Shot Food Photography and Styling by Kelly Jaggers
Corn and Pepper Schnitzel
- 2 ears corn, shucked, or 1 1/4 cups corn, canned or frozen - you will need 1 1/4 cups corn total
- 1 poblano pepper, roasted, peeled and diced (about 1/3 cup diced)
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1 3/4 cups panko style breadcrumbs, divided
- 1 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 1/4 tsp cayenne
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 scallion, chopped
- Extra virgin olive oil for frying (1/4 inch in medium skillet)
- Sour cream or Greek yogurt for topping (optional- use non-dairy sour cream for pareve)
- 2 cups tomatoes, diced (sweet heirloom tomatoes also work well)
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp cilantro or parsley, roughly chopped
- 1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 1/2 tsp honey or agave
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp pepper
To Make Tomato Relish
- A few minutes before cooking the schnitzel, place all tomato relish ingredients in a small mixing bowl and stir to combine. Set aside at room temperature to allow flavors time to marinate. Serve with schnitzel. Use a slotted spoon for serving so that the juices from the tomatoes don't make the schnitzel soggy.
To Make Corn Schnitzel
- If you'd like to grill the vegetables (I love doing this, as it adds a lot of flavor), shuck and clean the corn cob of its silks. Brush corn and pepper with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Grill both corn and pepper for 10 minutes on high heat, turning every 2-3 minutes, until corn is tender and blackened in places and pepper is softened, blackened and collapsing. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. *
- Remove corn from cob. I prefer to use a bundt pan, placing one end of the cob in the center and slicing the kernels off with a sharp knife so that they fall neatly into the pan. Measure out 1 1/4 cups corn and reserve. Save any additional corn to add to a salad, or you can add it to the tomato relish if you prefer.
- Dice the peeled cooked pepper into small pieces.In a mixing bowl, combine flour, 3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs, salt, smoked paprika, cumin, sugar and cayenne.
- In a separate mixing bowl, combine beaten eggs, lemon juice, and scallions.
- Combine the egg mixture with the dry ingredients. Mix well.
- Mix corn kernels and diced peppers into the batter. At this point, you can cover the batter with plastic wrap and refrigerate up to overnight (which will make it easier to handle and make into breaded patties), or you can proceed immediately with the recipe.
- To bread the schnitzel, fill the bottom of a shallow baking dish with 1 cup panko breadcrumbs. Drop ¼ cupfuls of batter into breadcrumbs using an ice cream scoop or measuring cup. Gently flatten the batter into a patty, shaping it as you go, and coat the opposite side with crumbs. The patties will be delicate and somewhat prone to crumbling, but they will hold together much better after being fried in hot oil. Remove from panko with a spatula.
- Heat 1/4 inch of olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat until hot enough for frying. Add breaded schnitzels gently to the hot oil. Cook for approximately 3 minutes on each side, or until golden brown and crisp. Drain on paper towels.
- Serve schnitzel warm topped with tomato relish and optional sour cream or Greek yogurt.