Super Savory Pancakes

In just about every culture around the world, people make a version of pancakes or flatbreads for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. In the United States, buttermilk or buckwheat pancakes are popular morning foods, but in other countries, pancakes become street vendor snacks or savory dinner fare. In India, dosas are pancakes that are composed of rice flour or rice and bean batters and are dipped into curry or chutney. In Ethiopia, injera, the nation’s famous flat- bread, is made of fermented ground teff, the world’s tiniest grain. In southern France, socca prepared with garbanzo flour is sold by street vendors, and in Scotland, oatcakes are cooked on a griddle and served with savory dishes or marmalade.

The book Flatbreads and Flavors by Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid is filled with recipes gathered from around the world. The many cross-cultural recipes can spark ideas for unusual pancakes. Asian noodle pancakes, potato pancakes, and spicy polenta pancakes are just a few pancakes ideas that I turned into dinner favorites.

Traditional pancake batter often depends on eggs, so revising such recipes and ending up with the same texture can be challenging. You don’t need eggs to

Pancake Tips at a Glance

  • Use just enough oil to create a browned crust.
  • Avoid crowding.
  • Wait until first side has browned before turning.
  • Turn once.
  • Transfer to a plate or cooling rack.

make pancakes, but the cakes become more fragile without them. If you want to experiment and create vegan pancakes from an egg-based recipe, the binding ingredients can be divided into the following categories:

  • Tofu contributes a binding quality but doesn’t lift like eggs do.
  • Starches, such as arrowroot, tapioca flour, potato starch, and Ener-G Egg Replacer, stand in for the binding quality of eggs. Replace up to 1/4 of the flour measurement with one of these starches.
  • Flaxseed egg replacer is composed of ground flaxseeds blended with water. I’ve found this is the best egg substitute in pancakes, quick breads, and cakes. It contributes a binding quality and gives a lift to the pancake, resulting in a lighter product. To make a flaxseed egg substitute, use 2 Table- spoons ground flaxseeds (ground in a spice grinder or a clean coffee grinder). Add 6 Tablespoons water and purée in a blender or a hand blender until very thick. This will replace two eggs.

After gathering pancake ingredients for a recipe together, get out the tools to prepare the pancakes. These include:

  • A griddle or heavy non-stick skillet
  • A baking sheet (for baked pancakes)
  • A plastic spatula
  • A cooling rack

Use a cast-iron griddle for an even browning quality, or try a good-quality non-stick skillet for making pan- cakes with less fat. Old, thin skillets can harbor hot spots where pancakes burn instead of browning evenly. A wire cooling rack keeps the first pancakes warm in the oven while you prepare the rest. (Hint: Don’t place cooked pancakes on paper towels to absorb moisture, or you’ll lose the crisp edges.)

The key to making perfectly browned pancakes is to cook with enough oil to give the outside a crisp texture. Lift the pancakes just a little before turning to make sure the first side is brown. Then, turn the pancake just once. Leave approximately 1 inch between cakes. Avoid putting too many pancakes in the same pan because the heat will be too thinly distrib- uted and the cakes won’t brown.

Asian Noodle Pancakes

(Makes 8 pancakes)

Look for udon noodles in Asian and natural foods stores and in the international aisle at grocery stores.

  • 8 ounces udon noodles
  • ½ cup sliced scallions
  • ½ cup grated carrots
  • 1 Tablespoon grated ginger
  • 1-1½ Tablespoons oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Cook noodles according to the package directions until soft but still firm. Drain well.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine noodles, scallions, carrots, and ginger. Divide into 8 portions and place on a tray or baking sheet.

Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Brush on oil and slide two or three noodle portions into the hot skillet. Cook until undersides are browned, approximately 5 minutes. Turn cakes with a spatula and cook the reverse side for another 5 minutes. Remove to a platter, brush the skillet with a little more oil, and cook three more. Continue until the cakes are all cooked.

Season with salt and pepper. Serve with Sweet and Sour Sauce.

Hint: You can keep the earliest cooked cakes warm on a baking sheet in an oven set at 250 degrees.

Total calories per pancake: 115 Fat: 2 grams
Carbohydrates: 20 grams Protein: 4 grams
Sodium: 333 milligrams Fiber: 2 grams

Sweet and Sour Sauce

(Makes approximately 1 cup or eight 2-Tablespoon servings)

  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder or 2-4 cloves garlic, pressed
  • 1 teaspoon granulated vegan sweetener, such as Sucanat
  • 2 Tablespoons tamari
  • 2 Tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

Combine all ingredients in a small jar. Place lid on tightly and shake. Drizzle over Asian Noodle Pancakes.

Total calories per serving: 10 Fat: 1 gram
Carbohydrates: 1 grams Protein: 1 gram
Sodium: 251 milligrams Fiber: < 1 gram

Tomato-Garlic Chickpea Pancakes

(Makes 12 pancakes)

Tomato paste lends color and an interesting dimension of flavor to this savory chickpea pancake. Get tomato paste in a squeeze tube so it’s easy to use and save the rest for other recipes.

The pancakes are slightly on the dry side and are best served warm spread with a sauce, Salsa Spread, or chutney.

  • 2/3 cup chickpea flour
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 1 Tablespoon tomato paste
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ pepper
  • 1-2 Tablespoons olive oil

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Combine flour, water, tomato paste, garlic powder, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Blend well. Set aside for 20 minutes so that batter will thicken and be ready to pour.

Spoon 12 pancakes onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Place pancakes in the oven and bake for 5 minutes. Remove from oven and brush tops with a light coating of olive oil. Turn pancakes and return to oven for 3 minutes or until tops are lightly browned.

Note: You can reheat any leftover pancakes in a microwave on HIGH for 15 seconds.

Total calories per pancake: 31 Fat: 1 gram
Carbohydrates: 3 grams Protein: 1 gram
Sodium: 53 milligrams Fiber: 1 gram

Salsa Spread

(Makes 1½ cup or four 2-Tablespoon servings)

Use your favorite mild to spicy salsa for this easy spread that will enhance savory pancakes, sandwiches, and baked potatoes. Just two teaspoons of vegan mayonnaise transforms and carries the tomato flavors in the salsa.

  • 2 teaspoons vegan mayonnaise
  • ½ cup salsa
  • ¼ cup finely chopped cilantro (optional)

Whip vegan mayonnaise into a small portion of the salsa. Then, blend it all together with the cilantro, if desired.

Total calories per serving: 15 Fat: 1 gram
Carbohydrates: 2 gram Protein: < 1 gram
Sodium: 214 milligrams Fiber: < 1 gram

Millet-Vegetable Pancakes

(Makes approximately fourteen 2½-inch pancakes)

I serve these pancakes with a salsa, a helping of chipotle-flavored pinto beans, and a shredded carrot-and- cabbage salad. You can make these pancakes in a non-stick skillet without any oil, but the oil imparts a crispy texture on the outside. I usually grind my own flaxseeds with a spice grinder or a clean coffee grinder.

  • 2 Tablespoons ground flaxseeds
  • 6 Tablespoons water
  • 2 cups cooked millet
  • 2 cups corn, either fresh or thawed frozen
  • ½ cup finely chopped onions
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼-½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 2 Tablespoon oil

Combine flaxseeds and water in a blender and purée on high until thick. Place millet, corn, onions, garlic powder, salt, and pepper in a bowl and stir in flax-water mix- ture. Form a spoonful of mixture at a time into small patties.

Put oil into a heavy skillet and heat to medium heat. Carefully drop patties into the skillet, and cook until lightly browned, turning once. It takes approximately 5-7 minutes on each side to brown the patties.

Total calories per pancake: 84 Fat: 3 grams
Carbohydrates: 13 grams Protein: 2 grams
Sodium: 46 milligrams Fiber: 1 gram

Wild Mushroom Sauce

(Makes approximately 1¾ cups or three ½-cup servings)

This is good over Millet Vegetable Pancakes or Carrot-Risotto Cakes.

  • 1½ cups boiling water
  • Approximately 1 cup loosely packed packaged dried wild mushrooms
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon sage
  • 1 Tablespoon rice or white wine vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon agave nectar or rice syrup
  • 1-3 Tablespoon rice flour
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Pour boiling water over mushrooms. Add garlic powder, sage, vinegar, and agave nectar. Let sit until mushrooms are hydrated.

Heat the mixture in a small saucepan. When sauce is hot, sprinkle 1 Tablespoon rice flour over the top and stir in. Continue adding flour and stirring until thick. Season with salt and pepper.

Total calories per serving: 64 Fat: < 1 grams
Carbohydrates: 10 grams Protein: 7 grams
Sodium: 10 milligrams Fiber: 2 grams

Carrot-Risotto Cakes

(Makes 12 cakes)

It's easiest to start this recipe a day ahead. Place the risotto in the refrigerator so it will be ready to make into pancakes. Instead of carrots, try turnips, rutabagas, squash, or sweet potatoes for a variation. The polenta in this recipe serves as the binding ingredient for these cakes.

  • 2 cups small-diced carrots (approximately ½ pound)
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 Tablespoon rice or wine vinegar
  • 2-2½ cups water
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 cup shallots, peeled and diced, or 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
  • ¾ cup uncooked arborio or Valencia- style rice (available in the gourmet section of many supermarkets)
  • ¼ cup polenta
  • ½ cup apple juice or white wine
  • ¼ cup toasted chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Steam carrots in water with vinegar over medium heat. These will cook for approximately 5 minutes. Remove from heat and strain the steaming liquid into a 4-cup measuring bowl. Add enough water to make 3½ cups liquid.

Meanwhile, heat a saucepan over medium heat. Add 1 Table- spoon oil and the shallots or onions, and sauté until onions are soft and translucent, approximately 5 minutes. Reserve remaining oil for the frying pan.

Stir in rice and cook for 5 more minutes. Add polenta and pour in apple juice or wine, stirring until liquid is absorbed. Add the liquid from the carrots in 1/2 cup increments, stirring each time, until liquid is absorbed. Rice should be done but not waterlogged. Stir in nuts, salt, and pepper.

Spoon the thick risotto onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Spread to 1/2-inch thickness and allow risotto to become firm to the touch, approximately 1 hour. With a biscuit cutter, cut rounds out of the risotto. Reshape leftover risotto and use the biscuit cutter to make more rounds.

Lightly brush part of the remaining Tablespoon of oil on a non-stick skillet and heat over medium heat. Cook 4-6 cakes at a time, turning once. Each cake takes 5 minutes to cook on each side. Repeat procedure, refreshing the brush of oil as remaining cakes are added to the frying pan. Top with hot Quick Marinara Sauce or pasta sauce, if desired.

Total calories per cake: 98 Fat: 2 grams
Carbohydrates: 17 grams Protein: 2 grams
Sodium: 8 milligrams Fiber: 1 gram

Quick Marinara Sauce

(Makes four ½-cup servings)

This quick sauce can be prepared at the last minute for Carrot-Risotto Cakes. You can also drain and add canned mushrooms to this sauce.

  • One 15-ounce can tomatoes, not drained
  • 1-2 Tablespoons sliced olives
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon basil
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • Salt to taste

Purée tomatoes in a blender. Combine tomatoes with remaining ingredients, except salt, in a saucepan. Heat 5-7 minutes, add salt to taste, and serve.

Total calories per serving: 30 Fat: < 1 grams
Carbohydrates: 7 grams Protein: 1 gram
Sodium: 248 milligrams Fiber: < 1 gram

Mushroom-Sage Potato Pancakes

(Makes 4 pancakes)

These pancakes use leftover mashed potatoes. The pancakes will be fragile because there isn’t any binding ingredient, but you hardly notice because the crispy texture on the outside is so good.

  • 1½ cups sliced mushrooms
  • 3 cups mashed potatoes
  • 1½ Tablespoons oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Heat a heavy skillet over medium heat. Add mushrooms and dry- fry until they lose their moisture and then become soft. Remove from skillet, cool, and chop. Then, stir mushrooms into mashed potatoes. Form potatoes into thin 3- inch patties.

Add oil to the skillet and fry patties for 5 minutes on each side. Season to taste. Some salsa or gravy is perfect over these pancakes.

Total calories per pancake: 152 Fat: 5 grams
Carbohydrates: 25 grams Protein: 3 gram
Sodium: 7 milligrams Fiber: 2 grams

Sun-Dried Tomato Polenta Cakes

(Makes approximately ten 3-inch cakes)

These cakes are good served hot or cold. I like to serve them with whole cooked black beans and either coleslaw or grated carrot salad.

  • 2 Tablespoons chopped pecans
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup polenta
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped sun-dried tomatoes
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Dash of cayenne
  • 1 Tablespoon oil (optional)

Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add pecans and cook until lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat when cool.

Combine water, polenta, tomatoes, salt, and cayenne. Bring to a boil, and then reduce heat, stir, and simmer until done. Take care not to leave the mixture for too long because it can become too thick and burn to the bottom of the pan. Stir and cook until polenta is thick, approximately 20 minutes. Add a little more water, if necessary, to keep from sticking. Stir in toasted pecans. Mixture should be quite thick when done.

Spoon polenta onto a baking sheet in 10 mounds, press to flatten, and allow to cool. When cakes are cool, heat a non-stick skillet and cook the cakes until lightly browned, turning once.

(Hint: Add a little extra oil to the skillet to help the pancakes brown more evenly.)

Total calories per cake: 63 Fat: 1 gram
Carbohydrates: 11 grams Protein: 1 gram
Sodium: 72 milligrams Fiber: 1 gram

Scottish Oatcakes

(Makes 8 small pancakes)

These cakes are nice as a simple side dish instead of bread. I like to use a flavorful extra-virgin coconut oil in the mix, but use any good quality oil for frying. A recipe for oatcakes in Flatbreads and Flavors called for less water and rolling the dough out like scones, but this version is easy, like drop biscuits.

  • 1 cup rolled oats, ground in a spice grinder
  • A pinch of salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • ¾ cup boiling water
  • ½Tablespoon oil for frying (optional)

Preheat non-stick skillet over medium heat. Combine ground oats, salt, and pepper in a mixing bowl. Pour oil into boiling water and stir into the oat mixture, blending until a soft dough is formed.

Spoon 2 Tablespoons batter into the skillet and press down into a circle. Fry for 5 minutes on each side. These cakes do not turn brown. Remove cakes from skillet and place in a broiler pan. Broil for 1-2 minutes per side.

Total calories per pancake: 44 Fat: 1 gram
Carbohydrates: 7 grams Protein: 2 grams
Sodium: 19 milligrams Fiber: 1 gram