Until I moved to Rhode Island a decade ago, I'd never heard of johnnycakes (which are also spelled jonnycakes, so let's get that out of the way up front). Johnnycakes, made of cornmeal and gluten-free, are to Rhode Islanders what pancakes are to the rest of the world. Most often they're served just like pancakes, with butter and a glug of local maple syrup. These savory two-bite roasted red pepper, basil and parmesan johnnycakes fit nicely into the end of the day, as a cocktail party appetizer or snack at a barbecue. As with any recipe that has just a few ingredients, be sure to use the best cheese, basil and pepper you can find. Serve them hot off the griddle, and spell them whichever way you like.
Roasted red pepper, basil and parmesan johnnycakes
Makes 24 small johnnycakes (serves 6 as an appetizer).
1 cup white cornmeal
1 tsp kosher salt
1 Tbsp finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1 Tbsp minced fresh basil
1 Tbsp minced roasted red pepper (store-bought is fine)
Large pinch of fresh black pepper
2 Tbsp olive oil
Set a large nonstick frying pan or cast iron griddle on the stove top.
Bring 1-1/2 cups of water to boil in a microwave (HIGH for 3 minutes).
While the water is coming to a boil, combine cornmeal, salt, cheese, basil, red pepper and black pepper in a large mixing bowl.
Stir the boiling water into the cornmeal mixture, until everything is well combined.
Turn the stovetop to medium heat, and add the olive oil in the pan. Swirl it around to coat the bottom of the pan.
When the oil is heated, using a tablespoon measure, drop round spoonfuls of the cornmeal mixture into the pan. The cakes should be 1-1/2 inches in diameter, more or less.
Cook on medium for 6 minutes. Do not lift, peek, touch or fuss! Leave the johnnycakes to cook, undisturbed. After 6 minutes, flip them over and cook 4-5 minutes on the second side, until nicely browned.
Repeat until all of the mixture is used. You might need to add more olive oil for the second batch.
Other recipes that use these pantry ingredients:
Baked grape tomatoes with basil and gluten-free cornbread crumbs, from Guten-free Goddess
Baked polenta with tomato and basil, from Joy the Baker
Polenta casserole with fontina and tomato sauce, from Simply Recipes
Corn, tomato, and basil tart, from Leite's Culinaria
Herbed goat cheese polenta bites, from The Kitchn
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