Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Vegetables, ...meet pancakes!

Happy National Pancake Day to everyone!! What a better way to kick off the beginning of March and being another step closer to spring? Besides, everyone loves a good excuse to make pancakes!! The big problem I always have with making pancakes though...is choosing what kind to make! There's whole wheat, pumpkin, banana, apple, gluten-free, blueberry, etc. and then if you want to include crepes and potato pancakes in the mix it gets even harder! The decision usually comes down to what I have on hand. On my particular pancake adventure this week, I had a spaghetti squash, 5 yellow bell peppers, a container of small brown tomatoes (not brown as in spoiled!!), and a half a bunch of scallions. Looks like I'm making veggie pancakes!
I actually have been wanting to try Mollie Katzen's Spaghetti Squash Pancakes recipe for a long time now, even before I knew what spaghetti squash WAS! So...this seemed like the perfect opportunity!
This recipe really was very simple and it would be quick if you don't count prepping the vegetables. Those can easily be done ahead of time if needed and dinner can be whipped up in no time! I used rice flour in mine to see how they would be gluten-free and they turned out great, but all-purpose flour could easily be used as well! The amount of flour you use depends on the consistence you are looking for. Use more flour for thicker, cakier pancakes and less flour for thinner, eggier pancakes.
As for the roasted veggie toppings, I just used what I had and it happened to be amazing, but you could change this up with whatever you have or what is in season at the time. The herbs of course can also be adjusted and changed up however your imagination leads you.
Here's my adapted recipe, mess with it as you please: (sorry if it is a bit confusing, if you read through it twice it will make much more sense!)

Spaghetti Squash Pancakes with Roasted Vegetables:
§  2 ½ -3 cups cooked* spaghetti squash, from about 1 squash
§  5 bell peppers (preferably yellow, but color would be fine), roasted **
§  2 Tbsp olive oil
§  ½ tsp salt
§  1 lb cherry tomatoes (more or less can be used according to preference), broiled***
§  1 cup minced red onion
§  ½ - ¾ cup all-purpose flour or rice flour
§  1 tsp salt, or more to taste
§  1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
§  2 Tbsp minced, fresh oregano, or 2 tsp dried
§  4 large eggs, beaten
§  Oil or butter for the pan
§  Extra freshly ground black pepper
§  1 bunch of scallions, washed, green and white parts sliced
§  Plain yogurt or sour cream
§  Fresh minced parsley

* To prepare the spaghetti squash:
1.       Preheat the oven to 350 F. Slice a small piece off of the bottom end so that it can stand upright. With a large, sharp knife, slice the squash from the stem-end down.  
2.      Scrape out as much of the seeds and pulp from the squash with a spoon without removing any of the flesh. Save the seeds for toasting or discard.
3.      Lightly rub each half with a little olive oil and place them face down on a rimmed baking sheet. Pour about a cup of water in the pan so that it just comes up the sides of the squash.
4.      Bake the squash for about 30 min, until the skin can be just barely pierced with a fork. Remove from the oven and let the squash cool before handling.
5.      When the squash if completely cool, use a fork and scrape the flesh to remove the spaghetti-like strands. Scrape from top-to-bottom for shorter strands and from side-to-side for longer strands. (For the pancakes, shorter strands are easier to work with.) Set the strands aside until ready to use or refrigerate.
**To prepare the bell peppers:
(If you have a gas stove, turn on a burner to medium heat and place the whole peppers directly on the flame. Roast until blackened all over then continue to step 4)
1.       Preheat the oven to 500 F and set to broil. Wash and dry the peppers and place them on a rimmed baking sheet covered with foil and lightly oiled. 
2.      Place the tray on the top shelf of the oven and broil for about 1 min then check.
3.      The skins of the peppers should char completely and blister. Turn the peppers with tongs as one side blackens so that they roast evenly. The peppers are done when they are almost completely black and blister-covered. If they are taking a long time (more than 5 min) to blacken, turn up the heat. You don’t want to make the peppers very soft.
4.      Remove the peppers from the heat (oven or flame) and immediately wrap them individually in plastic wrap (this makes the skins easier to remove) and set aside until mostly cool and ready to use.
5.      When the peppers have cooled down, remove the plastic wrap and then peel off the charred skins. Remove the stems and seeds and slice the peppers ½ -3/4 inch thick. Place the slices in a bowl and mix with the 2 Tbsp of olive oil and ½ tsp of salt to marinate until serving time.
*** To prepare the broiled tomatoes:
1.       Preheat the oven to 500 F and set to broil (same as the peppers). Wash and dry the tomatoes and then slice them about ¼ inch thick and place the slices on a baking sheet lined with foil and lightly oiled. Just before serving, place the tomatoes on the top shelf of the oven and broil for just a few minutes until heated through and slightly cooked.

1.       Prepare the squash as described above. While the squash is cooling, prepare the peppers as described above and get the tomatoes ready.
2.      In a large bowl, mix together the cooked squash and the red onion with a fork, gently separating the strands of squash as you do.
3.      In a separate bowl, combine the dry ingredient and then stir in the eggs to form a batter. Mix the batter into the squash mixture and make it as uniform as possible.
4.      Heat a griddle or skillet to med-high heat and swirl in some butter or olive oil.
5.      Drop a spoonful of batter on the griddle/pan to test out. Brown on one side and then flip and grind some pepper over the other side before cooking it. When the tester is done, adjust the heat as needed and taste the pancake to adjust the seasonings and flour as needed. Continue to cook the rest of the batter by 1/8 cupfuls (for small pancakes) or ¼ cupfuls (for larger pancakes.) The pancakes may spread out some, but you can use a spatula to push any streaks back into a circle. As you are finishing up the batch, place the tomatoes in the oven to cook as described above.
6.      To serve: place 3 or 4 pancakes on a plate and arrange a few tomato slices and some peppers on top. Add a dollop of yogurt or sour cream and garnish with the scallions and parsley.

Makes a light meal for 4. Definitely double if everyone is hungry and you want to have any left!

(Sorry for the lack of pictures! I had my hands full trying to get all the veggies straightened out!)
Uncooked spaghetti squash

I tried my squash strands long-ways as I would
if I were eating it on it's own, but this made it
difficult to incorporate it in the batter so I
suggest going from top-to-bottom and making
shorter strands

You can see the tops of the pancakes are totally
and evenly browned like regular pancakes, while
the bottoms are lighter and flecked with green
from the herbs. I think it makes a nice color contrast

The vegetables combinations that could be
used for this recipe are endless, but I thought
the acidic brown tomatoes and the sweet yellow
peppers was just perfect with the pancakes and
the tangy yogurt on top

If you don't like the skins on your tomatoes,
you can easily remove them by dropping the
tomatoes in boiling water for 5 seconds, then
placing them in ice water and peeling the
skins off, but I thought it was too much
extra work and I didn't mind the skins

This makes for an excellent light dinner or an
unordinary breakfast with some perfectly fresh
fruit and the left-overs make a tasty quick lunch
for the following day...if there ARE any left-overs.

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