Savory pancakes: How good does that sound? These have a little touch of chili pepper heat and lots of green. Egg whites and a generous amount of baking powder make them puffy, not heavy like a fritter.
The recipe is adapted from "Plenty: Vibrant Vegetable Recipes From London's Ottolenghi" (Chronicle, 2011). Yotam Ottolenghi co-owns four Ottolenghi restaurants, and he writes a vegetarian column for the Guardian. The book, whose chapters are divided according to types of vegetables and grains and even a little fruit, is a lovely combination of his voice and his creativity.
Green pancakes taste especially good with the lime butter melted on top and served with something softly crunchy, such as sauteed haricots verts or a lightly dressed salad. If you assemble the butter in the morning, the evening prep will go faster.
- For the butter
- Leaves from 2 stems cilantro
- 1 medium clove garlic
- 2 limes
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter (see NOTES)
- For the pancakes
- 8 to 10 ounces baby spinach leaves, washed
- Olive oil, for frying
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
- 1 bunch scallions
- 1 or 2 jalapeño peppers
- 1 cup self-rising flour (see NOTES)
- 1 1/4 tablespoons baking powder
- 1 large egg, plus 2 egg whites
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2/3 cup low-fat milk
For the butter: Have a piece of plastic wrap laid out on the counter. Finely chop the cilantro and garlic together; place in a medium bowl. Finely grate the zest of 1 lime over the bowl. Cut both limes in half and squeeze into the bowl, then add the salt, pepper, crushed red pepper flakes and the softened butter. Use your hands to blend well, forming a compound lime butter. Transfer to the plastic wrap; roll and twist the ends to shape the butter into a log that is about an inch in diameter. Freeze or refrigerate while you make the pancakes.
For the pancakes: Heat a few tablespoons of water in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the spinach leaves and cover for 2 minutes, so the spinach wilts. Uncover, and transfer the spinach to a bowl to cool.
Meanwhile, use enough oil to generously film a large griddle and place it over medium-high heat, or pour enough oil into 2 large skillets (this can include the one used to wilt the spinach; wipe out first as needed) to cover the bottoms and place over medium-high heat.
Use a microwave-safe cup to melt the butter in a microwave on HIGH for 30 seconds or until it is liquefied. Let cool slightly. Trim the scallions, then cut the white and all but the tough green parts crosswise into thin slices. Trim and seed the jalapeno; mince (to taste). Squeeze as much moisture as possible from the spinach, then coarsely chop.
Combine the melted butter, scallions, jalapeno and spinach in a mixing bowl, along with the flour, baking powder, (whole) egg, salt, cumin and milk. Use a fork to mix well, forming a thick pancake batter.
Use a whisk to beat the egg whites in a separate bowl until they form soft peaks; this will take 3 or 4 minutes. Carefully fold into the batter, which should lighten it.
Use 1/4 cup of the batter to form each pancake, cooking 4 or 5 at a time on the griddle or 3 in each of the skillets, spreading the batter out to 4 or 5 inches in diameter. Cook for about 3 minutes or until the cakes are golden on the bottom and small air holes have formed on the surface. Flip them over and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, then transfer to a heatproof platter. Place in a 200-degree oven. Repeat to use all of the batter, adding oil to the griddle or skillets as needed; the yield should be about 12 pancakes.
When ready to serve, divide the pancakes among individual plates, overlapping the pancakes slightly. Unwrap the lime butter and cut itto thin slices; use about a tablespoon's worth for each portion. Serve warm; the butter should be melting.
NOTES: To make cold butter suitable for blending (a cool room temperature), place between 2 pieces of plastic wrap. Use a rolling pin to beat the butter for about 30 seconds, until it is fairly pliable.
If you don’t have self-rising flour for this recipe, make your own: Combine 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder, 1/8 teaspoon of salt and 1 1/4 cups of flour in a small resealable plastic food storage bag. Seal, and shake to mix well.
Adapted from "Plenty: Vibrant Vegetable Recipes From London's Ottolenghi" (Chronicle, 2011).
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.
E-mail questions to the Food Section at email@example.com.