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Chameleon Cafe Spinach Cakes with Walnut Sauce

Source: Chameleon Cafe - Lincoln City, Oregon

1 1/2 pounds fresh spinach
16 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese, grated
1 1/2 cups parmesan cheese, freshly grated
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1/2 cup fresh basil
1 cup cornmeal (for dusting)
Olive oil (for cooking)
Walnut Sauce

Steam spinach until wilted; when cool squeeze out all water and chop.

With a mixer, combine cream cheese, mozzarella, parmesan, spinach, garlic, black pepper and basil. Mix on medium speed, scraping sides of bowl, until well incorporated.

Place cornmeal on a plate. Form mixture into 1/2-inch thick cakes about 3 inches in diameter. Cover each with cornmeal. Refrigerate until firm; can be made a day ahead.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Add enough olive oil to an ovenproof pan, preferably cast iron, to slightly cover bottom of pan. Heat oil on the stovetop on medium-high heat until almost smoking. Place cakes in hot oil. When browned on one side, flip the cakes and place pan in oven until cakes are heated through.

To serve, pour a pool of Walnut Sauce onto a plate. Set hot cakes on top and serve immediately.

Walnut Sauce
1 cup toasted walnuts*
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 to 1 cup milk

In a food processor, chop walnuts; add basil, salt, pepper and lemon juice. With the motor running, pour enough milk through the top to make a smooth mixture.

* To toast nuts, heat in a dry skillet over medium heat until they start to brown. Stir occasionally. Be careful not to scorch them.

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