Ash Wednesday Vegetable Pancakes

February 17, 2010 § Leave a comment

I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, so I’m not really to be congratulated for giving up sugar for Lent (gave up beer too – woe, woe! but not wine – tehee!).  I do love rich, dark, chocolate – but preferably with not too much sugar in it. It’s funny, though: as soon as I’ve decided to forego the sweet stuff, it starts turning up everywhere. How much do you want to bet I will find doughnuts in the faculty lounge again? And how much do you want to bet that I will be seized, against all reason and inclination, to crave them wildly, even though I am quite sure they will be nasty? As Oscar Wilde said, “the only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it.” And conversely, if you want something to seem super-desirable, make it forbidden. Which, interestingly, means that all of our attempts to elude Lent backfire. God is clever that way.

So, waking up this morning in a sugarless world, I was overwhelmed with a longing for sugar. Dominic asked for pancakes, and I started to make him some – and then suddenly realized that they would be mighty unpalatable for me, with neither honey nor jam nor maple syrup on them.

Yes, I know. That is the point of Lent: mortification. But human nature simply can’t resist taking pain and translating it into an art form. That’s one reason why there are so many awesome fish recipes out there. And Edgar Allen Poe.

In this case, I decided to make a virtue of necessity – or, rather, make a tasty dish out of a bland one: vegetable cornmeal pancakes.  So good! Kind of a marriage of fritters and latkes and pancakes, a happy marriage (ok, menage trois, whatever). They’re fairly healthy, too, unless you’re watching your cholesterol…which I am not. In fact, I am happily pretending it doesn’t exist.

I’m sorry I don’t have more photos. I am supposed to be doing class preparation right now (Jane Eyre…Mr. Rochester…the Eternal Masculine? Is there such a thing? What does that have to do with pancakes?) – and will get back to it, as soon as I have finished with this. It’s a nice quick recipe, won’t take long:

3 eggs

2 tbsp olive oil

1/4 c milk

1/4 c flour

1/4 c corn meal

pinch o’ salt, a bit o’ pepper

Mix it all together. No special blending requirements here: there’s no baking soda so you don’t have to worry about nasty bitter lumps. I try to avoid baking soda, actually, as often as possible.

Now, when it comes to vegetables, add whatever you like. I used:

1/2 small yellow onion, diced

1/4 poblano pepper, julienned

1/2 carrot, grated

a few mushrooms, diced small

But you could also add: grated potatoes, grated zucchini, spinach, leek, sweet potato, corn, parsley, cilantro, basil…basically, whatever odds and ends you have handy.

Fold vegetables thoroughly into the batter.

Now, melt some butter on a skillet (preferably cast-iron). At least a tbsp of butter, at medium heat. You want the edges nice and brown and crisp, not floppy and pallid.

Pour 1/4 c of batter into skillet; use spoon to spread out thin (otherwise you will have sort of lumpy fritters, and if you are making fritters they are better deep-fried, not just pan-fried in butter).

Cook until bubbles form. Flip, cook for another few minutes. Make as many as you like – if you don’t use all the batter, you can put the leftover away in the fridge, and use it later.

They’re particularly good with sour cream and pico de gallo, but I didn’t have any, so I ate them plain. Oh, Lent! Oh, the suffering!

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