Savory pancakes form a delicious base for a light summer meal. I’ve become so fond of them that I make a series of variations as crops come into season. It begins with pancakes loaded with scallions – or homegrown walking onions, the green tops of full-size bulb onions or even handfuls of chives.
Scallion pancakes pair well with early salad radishes quickly pickled in ginger- and cumin-spiced vinegar. When purple chive blossoms or white garlic chive blooms appear, I infuse the vinegar with them a couple of days before I mix up the radish pickles. Purple blossoms leach their color and flavor into the brine.
Smaller amounts of scallions, onion tops or chives add background flavor to other savory pancakes. As summer progresses, Zucchini-Basil Pancakes become a mainstay, with the fresh basil and grated zucchini as the primary flavors. When bell peppers ripen to a full red, I grill or roast them, along with garlic, to mix into the batter.
The base ingredients you use put yet another spin on savory pancakes. Unbleached all-purpose flour, leavened with a little baking soda and enriched with egg, produces light pancakes, even when vegetables are added to the batter. It’s a combination I prefer when adding watery ingredients like zucchini.
For gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan friends, I started playing with alternate approaches. Chickpea flour, which is also sold as garbanzo bean flour, gram flour and besan, gives a heavier yet workable texture even without baking soda or egg. I keep chickpea flour pancakes ultrathin, like crepes, to avoid overpowering the scallions. The turmeric and coriander also balance the flour’s beany taste.
Gluten-Free Scallion Pancakes
Makes 4 large pancakes
1 cup chickpea flour
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 cup water
Sunflower or other high-smoking point oil for cooking
In a large glass measuring cup or bowl with a pour spout, mix the flour, turmeric, coriander, salt and pepper. Use a fork to slowly stir in the water, until the flour is completely incorporated into a batter. Let the batter rest while you thinly slice the scallions.
Lightly oil a 10-inch nonstick skillet and set it over medium heat until hot. Fold the scallions into the batter. If it seems too thick to pour, thin it with another tablespoon of water. Cook the pancakes like you would crepes: Pour in about 1/4 cup of batter in a circular motion, tilting the skillet for even coating; if necessary, use a butter knife to spread the batter into any gaps. Cook for about two minutes, until the edge begins to curl and brown. Use a large spatula to flip the pancake, and then cook for an additional minute or so. Transfer the pancake to a heatproof plate before setting it in a warm oven. Repeat the process with the remaining batter, reoiling the pan after each pancake. Serve hot.
Julie Laing is a Bigfork-based cookbook author and food blogger at TwiceAsTasty.com.
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