This one’s a recipe for Pancake Day: the most sacred of traditions. A time where we all get to gorge ourselves on lemony sugary – or syrupy bacony – goodness in the name of our Lord and Saviour. Or just in the name of Tuesday.
I have to confess, this is actually a recipe for savoury crêpes. But before you point and hiss heathen at me, let me give you the real kicker: they’re vegan, too! Behold, my recipe for crêpes filled with tomato, olives and spinach!
To make four crêpes, you will need:
-95g of plain flour
-1/4 tsp of baking powder
-1/4 tsp of salt
-1/4 tsp of paprika (optional)
– 1/4 tsp of turmeric (optional) (I have made this mistake too many times)
-2 tbsp of sunflower oil
For the filling, you will need:
-1 small onion
-3 cloves of garlic
-4 fresh tomatoes (or one tin of chopped tomatoes, if you’re feeling lazy)
-1 bunch of fresh spinach
-A handful of black olives, sliced
-1 tbsp of tomato puree
-1 heaped tsp of basil
-1/2 tsp of thyme
-1/2 tsp of paprika
-1 tsp of sugar
-Salt and pepper to taste
1. First, make your pancake batter. Mix together your dry ingredients in a bowl. I like to add turmeric and paprika for a bit of colour, as these crêpes can look a bit anaemic otherwise. Add the wet ingredients into the dry and whisk the filling.
2. If you’re using fresh tomatoes, and you want to channel your inner Masterchef, cut a little ‘X’ into the bottom of each tomato and cover them with boiling water. This means you can peel the skins and get a smoother sauce later. Leave to soak.
3. Dice your onion and fry it off at medium heat. Add a pinch of salt and the teaspoon of sugar to help it caramelise. As the onion fries, slice up the garlic cloves and add them to the pan; adding them a little after the onion means they don’t burn. Cook the onions and garlic for about five minutes.
4. Drain the tomatoes and rinse under cold water. Then just peel away the skins and put them in the compost (get a compost!). Dice the tomatoes quite small and add them to the pan with the onions and garlic. Add the rather than baby leaf (which is the kind that comes in a wee plastic bag from the supermarket) then give it a good wash and roughly chop it up. Once the tomatoes have broken down into a sauce, add the spinach on top of the sauce and leave it to wilt. Don’t stir! It will wilt in time.
6. Heat up a large frying pan over high heat – make sure you let it get properly hot! Then add a small amount of oil and turn the heat down to medium. Add a quarter of your pancake mixture – this will be a large ladel-full or just over 100ml. Spread it around the pan as far as you can. These crêpes definitely take longer to cook than non-vegan ones do, so just be patient. When you can fit a spatula all the way underneath (about five minutes), flip it over.
7. Stir in the wilted spinach to the sauce, season to taste and spoon a generous helping into one half of your pancake. Flip the other half over (think omelette) and you’re done! Plate up your crêpe and pat yourself on the back.
Don’t listen to the haters; you know your savoury pancake is delicious. Of course, this recipe doesn’t have to vegan if it doesn’t suit you. Regular milk works in the crêpes and feta cheese is fantastic stirred through the sauce at the end, my non-vegan mother assures me. Make it yours! The world of pancakes is your oyster now (but I don’t recommend adding oysters).
Image: Maisy Hallam