Thursday, April 15, 2010

Savory Pancakes

I love pancakes.  I am, in fact, plotting a Pancake Fest, in which I will whip out several varieties of pancakes and feed lots of people.  (Booze, waffles, and breakfast meats will also be available).  Pancakes, however, are something that I can't eat daily for breakfast.  Something about all the sugar or something--basically, I end up hungry two hours later.

Lately my breakfast routine has been a bit rushed or dull.  I eat some fruit, and then I get a muffin from the coffee shop.  Not exactly healthy, so I obviously needed to shake up my breakfast choices.  I read somewhere that eating more protein keeps you fuller longer.  Since I'm a vegetarian, I can't really eat any meat, and while I like eggs, I usually want something else with them and too much animal fat (eggs, butter, etc) upsets my stomach. (Yes, I'm picky)

Then I remembered The Hungry Tiger had posted about breakfast lentils. Interesting!  I was lacking in many of her ingredients, but I liked the idea of something involving legumes and vegetables for breakfast.  I grabbed out my How to Cook Everything Vegetarian to see what Mark Bittman had to say about breakfast lentils.  Which was nothing.  However, he did have a recipe for lentil pancakes.

I didn't want to soak my lentils overnight, so I decided to use his recipe as more inspiration.  I'm pretty happy with what came out--it turns out that savory pancakes are almost as good as the traditional ones.

First, I cooked lentils and brown rice until they were done.  I had some leftover tomatoes from the shakshuka from dinner the night before, so I added a few scoops of that to the lentils/rice.  Then I added some spices, onion, green onion, mushrooms, celery, and garlic and pureed it in the food processor. It needed a bit more texture, so I added some oats, oat flour, and one egg.

Using my cupcake scoop, I scooped out portions and cooked them on the griddle until brown and toasty on each side.  I tried one, and they were delicious and, I imagine, infinitely customizable.  We tried one with salsa.  I imagine they'd even be good with a poached egg on top, if you're into that kind of thing.

Breakfast food experiment, success!

I also made this chickpea pancake (or socca) from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian for dinner.  It was kinda odd, but tasty--eggy, even though it didn't have any eggs.  It was also amazingly simple and contained relatively few ingredients.  I imagine it'd make a great base for a pizza-like dish.  Seriously, this book will never get old.  If you don't own, I highly recommend it.

Lentil Pancakes
Makes 10-12

This is a VERY rough recipe. Feel free to make substitutions like mad, depending on what you're in the mood for.  I'm sure you can skip the egg if you're after a vegan dish.  (I really should measure stuff when I experiment in the kitchen, especially when it's delicious.)
  • 2/3 cup uncooked lentils 
  • 1/2 cup uncooked brown rice
  • diced canned tomatoes (~1/3 cup or so)
  • onion and garlic, to taste
  • celery
  • nutritional yeast
  • mushrooms
  • spices, such as cumin, curry powder, chili powder, cayenne, salt and pepper, to taste
  • ~1/2 cup rolled oats
  • ~1/2 cup oat flour (to thicken)
  • 1 egg
Cook the lentils.  When the water begins to boil, add the brown rice (I just tossed in a handful).  Cook until lentils/rice are done.  Drain off excess liquid, if any.  Add the tomatoes.  Let mixture cool to room temperature, then puree in a food processor with onion, garlic, and celery (I'm sure some carrots would be good--I tossed in some chopped mushrooms).  Add oats, flour, and egg, and puree.  Add salt/pepper and spices to taste.  Scoop out and cook on a griddle like a pancake and eat with whatever you think will taste good.  I suspect ketchup, chopped tomatoes, a poached egg, greens, a mixture of the above, or anything else would go well.

Chickpea Pancake (Socca or Farinata)
Adapted from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian

Feel free to substitute other flavors for the onion and rosemary.  The original called for regular onion, but I used that in my lentil pancakes.  It makes a pancake that is eggy in texture and would be a good pizza-like base--simply cook, then add toppings and finish baking, instead of broiling.
  • 1 cup chickpea flour (also known as gram or besan flour)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ground black pepper, to taste
  • olive oil
  • green onion, whites and greens, sliced
  • fresh rosemary leaves
Put 1.5 cups warm water in a bowl and sift the chickpea flour into the water (else it'll be super lumpy).Add the salt, pepper, and 2 tbsp of olive oil together.  Cover with a towel and let stand for a few minutes or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 450.  Put ~2 tbsp olive oil into a cast iron skillet (oh, skillet!) and heat on the stove top until the oil and pan are hot (just like making cornbread, if you're a good Southerner).  Stir in the onion and rosemary (or whatever) and pour the batter into the hot skillet.  Put in the oven and bake for about 15 minutes until the pancake is firm and the edges are set.

Preheat the broiler.  Brush the top of the pancake with a bit more oil (which I forgot, and it totally turned out okay) and broil for a minute or two, or until brown spots appear.  Cut it up and eat it with salsa or whatever you want!

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