I really love breakfast, but it’s probably the meal that I’m most happy to eat repetitively. A steady rotation of toast, tostadas, and oatmeal would be a little less adventurous than I’d like, all things considered, but it would keep me very, very happy.
This past weekend, though, I got to thinking about this time last summer, when I was still deep in recipe testing for the next cookbook. This included a lot of breakfast recipes that were off my beaten path: nothing crazy elaborate, but meals that are just above and beyond what I make on any given weekday morning. I have to admit, it was pretty nice having leftover pancakes and hash and tofu migas lying around.
With that in mind, and since it was a Sunday, I decided to break out my waffle maker and put cornmeal waffles—a recipe I’ve wanted to try all summer—to the test. These crispy vegan cornmeal waffles with heirloom tomato peach salsa are the happy result, and I like them so much that I know they’ll become a regular recipe for me, even if the accompaniment changes by season.
Waffles. I used to think they were such an undertaking, until I got an inexpensive waffle maker on eBay and started actually making them. I’ve had the same maker ever since (it’s this one), and now I know that the process of making waffles is actually incredibly easy; I actually find it less hands-on than making pancakes, which involves so much careful monitoring of the griddle, and in which a minute or two can be the difference between pancakes that are golden and those that are downright burnt.
Because these waffles are on the savory/salty side, I wanted to serve them with something light and sweet and summery. Heirloom tomato peach salsa to the rescue! The peaches are just sweet and fruity enough to give the recipe a decidedly brunch-like feel, but on the whole it’s savory enough for lunch or dinner. The contrast between crispy waffles and juicy salsa is great, but the waffles would also be good with any number of savory accompaniments; I’m excited to try them with tofu scramble, brussels sprout hash, or even sweet potato hummus.
I often make waffle batter the night before and refrigerate it till morning, and this recipe is no exception. You can whisk the batter together before you go to bed, so that it’s even easier to get waffles on the table when you wake up. If you do this, you may need to thin the batter with a couple tablespoons non-dairy milk; the cue that you should do this is if the mixture is too thick to be pourable. Otherwise, you can give it a good stir and heat up your iron.
I found that this batter needed more time in my waffle maker than other recipes I’ve made, about 5-6 minutes instead of my usual 3-4, which is when the “ready” light of the maker turned on. I’d set a timer for 5 minutes per waffle on medium-high heat (about a 4 on my maker), so that you avoid waffles that rip apart when you open the iron up. The waffles will be very golden and crispy, but that’s definitely the intention. And if you have to have a starter/test waffle, I think it’s better to have one that’s a little burnt than one that falls apart or is undercooked.
Crispy Vegan Cornmeal Waffles with Heirloom Tomato Peach Salsa
- 1 tablespoon flax meal
- 1 1/2 cups light spelt whole wheat pastry, or all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup medium grind cornmeal or polenta
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4-1 teaspoon kosher salt*
- 1 1/2 cups unsweetened non-dairy milk
- 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup neutral vegetable oil such as safflower or grapeseed
For the salsa:
- 1 large or 2 small heirloom tomatoes chopped
- 1 large juicy peach, pitted and chopped
- 1/4 cup red onion finely diced
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
- 2 tablespoons chopped mint leaves
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- Salt + pepper to taste
- Preheat your waffle iron to medium high heat. Whisk together the flax meal and 3 tablespoons warm water in a small bowl, then set the mixture aside. Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine all of the salsa ingredients. Mix well, then taste and adjust salt and pepper as needed. Set the salsa aside.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a separate, medium-sized bowl, whisk together the non-dairy milk and vinegar, then stir in the oil. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until they're just evenly combined into a batter. (A few small lumps are OK!)
- Pour the batter by the half cup into the waffle maker. Allow each waffle to cook for about 5 minutes per waffle, till the waffle is very crisp and golden. If you like, you can hold cooked waffles in an oven preheated to about 200F until they're all ready, but if you plan to eat right away, it's fine to simply allow each waffle to cool on a rack till you're done. Repeat the process with all remaining batter; you should get 4-5 waffles, each about 7-8 inches in diameter.
- To serve, scoop the salsa over the waffles and enjoy.
There’s a whole lot to be said for a quiet, easygoing breakfast routine, one that can essentially take care of itself. When I’m in class, and especially if I have morning class, I’m always grateful for overnight oats, toast, or PB&J as simple options. But I’m also very partial to brunch food, and making these waffles reminded me how much I enjoy the ritual of a special weekend breakfast.
Since we were just chatting about cooking solo (thanks to those who shared thoughts about this!), it’s also worth saying that I tend to treat brunch food as something for sharing. For a long time, pancakes and waffles were weekend fare for Steven and me, something I made us as a treat on Saturday morning as we lolled about the house.
I can enjoy that treat on my own, too, especially when the recipe is as simple and rewarding as this one. And, since these waffles are on the crispy side, the leftovers actually keep really well: just let them re-crisp and warm up in an oven set to 300F for about 15 minutes, then top them however you like.
Enjoy the waffles, on your own or with others, and I’m wishing you a great week.