Soft savory pancakes of roasted aubergine, caramelized onions and summer herbs, barely held together with a whisper of flour and eggs, and served with a smear of sweet red pepper sauce. Make-ahead steps and a do-everything sauce = easy summer lunches and appetizers.
Midsummer is fast approaching. I don’t know about you but all of a sudden I feel an urge to do every summer thing: paddle boarding on tree-fringed Loch Leven; bird watching in the Pentland Hills; deadheading and weeding after supper – cheeky G&T ready for a quick sip between the never-ending garden tasks. But, I’m marooned on the sofa with a foot bound and propped for the time being.
Without being a complete bore about it, two and a bit weeks ago I took a tumble down the stairs, my stupidly clog-shod feet obscured by an overflowing laundry basket. Tore some ligaments. And before you jump to any conclusions, no alcohol was involved. 😉
This didn’t stop us going on holiday to Brač in Croatia, but back home I am feeling quite out of sorts. From my central position in our open plan downstairs I can see everything that needs sorting and putting away. Half-read newspapers; vaguely important notes scrawled on the scrappiest of scrap papers; a small heap of to-be-ironed clothes.
Worst of all, I can see the garden. Nearest to me are a brace of peonies, big bowls of pink and custard-yellow blossoms nestled with fading salmon-rose aquilegia (both needing deadheading). These summer stalwarts are punctuated by an obelisk of untied sweet peas, the intense fragrance only available if you wish to lie on the ground. The hostas too are fully up and fully prey to gungy-gross slugs, which in normal circumstances I would be “tidying up” in dawn-ish patrols – a good occupation for the occasional insomniac in the summer time.
You can perhaps feel my frustration.
I can still carry on with my cooking though. Taking things carefully and breaking down tasks, I am making food for work and testing recipes to share with family and all of you. Slowly, slowly I am washing, slicing, mixing, cooking and tidying up, a crutch at the ready. Everything proceeds at a snail’s pace.
In a way, this has been the silver lining. I can’t rush and do three things at once, worrying that I may have forgotten to add a vital ingredient: it’s added because I am present in every step.
I might yet get the hang of being methodical. Doubtful, with my ADD-brain.
This is what I have been making lately – dinky little eggplant pancakes, smeared with creamy roasted sweet red pepper sauce and topped with vinegared chickpeas and herbs, plucked from just outside my kitchen door.
I have developed a similar recipe for Waitrose that will be in their September magazine, using Duchy products to celebrate the brand’s 20th anniversary. They will be re-shooting the images to visually work with other recipes in the same section, but I’m so pleased to have been asked to create a recipe for their flagship Duchy brand. My pix will be on their social media and on their website.
Anyway, the recipe below is just for us. Have it for lunch, a light supper, or even make them smaller for an interesting take on blinis and serve as appetizers. The sauce is massively versatile: mix with cooked pasta, combine with ricotta as a stuffing for grilled vegetable roll-ups (a la involtini), mix into steamed or boiled greens, slather onto roasting cauliflower, smear onto fish, chicken or tofu and bake in the oven. The pine nuts are a must, btw.
Perhaps by the time you are reading this I will have slowly tidied my way around the room, and hirpled my way out into the back garden to do some high-level deadheading. Or maybe I will just have the cheeky G&T, sans deadheading. 😉
Mediterranean Herb Pancakes with Roasted Sweet Red Pepper Sauce
Soft savory pancakes of roasted aubergine, onion marmalade and summer herbs, barely held together with a whisper of flour and eggs, and served with a smear of sweet red pepper sauce. Make-ahead steps and a do-everything sauce = easy summer lunches and appetizers. xx
2 medium aubergines
2 red peppers
Jar of caramelised onions, divided use
50g flour (plain or chickpea/gram flour)
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp ground cumin
2 eggs, lightly beaten (I haven’t tried with chia eggs but no reason why this wouldn’t work)
80g pine nuts, lightly toasted
2 & 1/2 tsp white wine or cider vinegar, divided use
Olive oil for shallow frying
1 lemon, halved
Half a tin of chickpeas, rinsed drained and lightly patted dry
Salt and pepper, to taste
Torn fresh oregano, basil or marjoram, to serve
Feta cheese, crumbled (optional)
1. Heat oven to 200C/400F and line the bottom with foil. Prick the aubergines twice each and lay the aubergines and peppers directly on the middle oven rack. Roast the aubergines for one hour and the peppers for 40 minutes. Cool slightly.
2. Remove the skin and seeds from the peppers and set the flesh aside. Halve the aubergines, scoop out the flesh, and leave to drain for an hour in a sieve. Pulse-chop the aubergines in a blender or by hand; mix in a bowl with 2 tablespoons of the caramelised onions, the flour, dried oregano, cumin; stir in the beaten egg. Mix well but do not beat.
3. Make the sweet red pepper sauce by blending 2 tablespoons caramelised onions, the peeled peppers, 1 tsp of vinegar and 60 grams of the pine nuts in a food processor or blender* until smooth; taste and adjust seasoning. Set aside.4. To make the pancakes, heat a little oil in a large non-stick saute pan over a medium-high heat. Dollop 2 heaped tablespoons of the batter into the hot oil and spread from the center to make pancakes about four to five inches in diameter: you will need to make the pancakes in batches so pop an oven tray into a 120C (250F) oven to keep them warm. Cook pancakes on each side for about four minutes, until medium golden brown. Hold them in the oven as you make the rest.
5. For the chickpeas, add a little oil to the saute pan if needed and heat to high. Add the chickpeas and the remaining vinegar and cook until the chickpeas start to pop (yes, pop!), shaking a couple of times. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground black pepper and shake the pan again.
To serve Smear the eggplant pancakes with the red pepper puree, and top with chickpeas, remaining pine nuts, and flecks of herbs. Stack them if you wish.
Leftovers? The batter will keep well for two days and the sauce for five days (see above the recipe for how to use leftover sauce). Cooked pancakes can be reheated briefly in a hot pan, or in a moderate oven for about five minutes.
Froothie News* For this recipe I used the new 750g (single serve) jug available for the Froothie Optimum 9400 power blender. I adore this new dinky jug as it is PERFECT for smaller batches of hummus, dips, nut butters, smoothies, cocktails, sauces and nut flours. It has replaced my mini chopper for small tasks that need the power of a proper blender (i.e. everything!). It is so easy to get every last scrap out of the blender, too. No waste! Right now Froothie has a SUMMER SALE on, so do go over if you fancy an upgrade in your quality kitchen equipment. Use this link for purchases, or click on the badge in my sidebar and claim free shipping, too. Disclosure: I’m an ambassador for Froothie and receive a small payment for purchases through the above links.
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