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Bobby Flay's Johnnycakes with Ricotta, Tomatoes and Chiles

Bobby Flay's Johnnycakes with Ricotta, Tomatoes and Chiles
Bobby Flay's Johnnycakes with Ricotta, Tomatoes and ChilesNathan Congleton / TODAY

Chef notes

Since corn and tomatoes aren't at their absolute peak at the beginning of June, this is a great recipe to give you that wonderful summer flavor a little early. Cornmeal cakes give that delicious, sweet corn taste and cherry tomatoes are always delicious and in season. Basil is a summer herb that pairs beautifully with tomatoes. You can also use parsley, cilantro, green onion or chives.

Technique tip: Use a cast iron pan for the johnnycakes to get a beautiful crust on the cakes. Don't over-mix the batter; it can be lumpy (just like pancake batter). This will ensure tender cakes.

Swap option: You can add fresh corn kernels to the cakes for a bit of texture and more corn flavor.


Pickled chiles
  • 2 cups white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 6 Fresno chiles, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 pound fresh ricotta or best quality grocery store brand
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 1 pinch freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pint multi-colored cherry tomatoes (heirloom if available)
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 splash fresh lemon juice
  • 8 large basil leaves, thinly sliced
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon fine yellow or white cornmeal
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 large eggs, separated
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled, divided
  • Chives, thinly sliced, for garnish


For the pickled chiles:

In a medium saucepan, combine the vinegar and sugar, bring to a boil and cook until sugar is dissolved, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool 5 minutes.

Put chiles in medium bowl, pour pickling liquid over, cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 48 hours.

For the ricotta:

Combine the ricotta, salt and pepper in a bowl and gently mix to combine. Set aside.

For the tomatoes:

Combine the tomatoes, shallot, lemon zest and juice, basil and olive oil in a bowl, season with salt and pepper and let sit at room temperature at least 30 minutes before serving.

For the johnnycakes:


Preheat the oven to 300°F.


In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt and baking powder.


In a separate medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks and milk together until combined.


In a third medium bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form.


Add the egg-milk mixture to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Gently fold in the egg whites, then 2 tablespoons of the melted butter and mix until the batter is just smooth. Let rest for 10 minutes.


Heat a large nonstick sauté pan, cast iron pan or griddle over medium-high heat. Brush with some of the remaining melted butter. Spoon 2 heaping tablespoons of the batter into the pan for each johnnycake and, using a small offset spatula, spread the batter slightly to even out the top. Cook until lightly golden brown on each side, about 1½ minutes per side.


Remove to a baking sheet and keep warm in the oven until ready to serve.

To serve:

Top each johnnycake with ricotta, a spoonful of the tomatoes and a few pickled chiles. Garnish with chives.