Mothers and fathers, you know how it is. You rarely get that time alone together that all couples crave. Most every night, your children are right there with you, so you have to behave yourself. You can’t break loose and do anything that might offend their delicate sensibilities or expose them to something that they’d rather not see. You might send yearning glances at your partner across the dinner table, but you know that that’s all you can do. But when the children get out of the house, that’s when it’s time to go wild, to rip free of the restraints, to…cook something your children won’t eat!
Wednesday night is when my husband and I go a little crazy. E. often attends church with our neighbors, so D. and I take that opportunity to indulge in foods that we know she just won’t eat. Often it’s Indian food or spicy food or, in the case of Pav Bhaji, both. Last Wednesday, I seized the opportunity to make something that D. and I love but E. won’t even try: eggplant pancakes.
In a way, I can’t blame her. After all, they’re made of eggplant, a vegetable she has trouble with under the best of circumstances, but to add insult to injury, the eggplant is pureed and made up to resemble an ugly, gray version of one of her favorite foods, pancakes. It’s no good telling her that these are savory pancakes, not meant to be eaten with syrup like her favorite breakfast. She just won’t touch them. Which is fine, really—more for us!
In this recipe, plain old eggplant pancakes get the fancy treatment: I layered them with spinach and topped them with a simple fresh tomato sauce. Be aware that this makes only three servings—and they’re not huge servings, at that. Consider adding a salad and a grain or bean dish to your menu to complete the meal.
Eggplant Pancakes Florentine
- 1 medium-large eggplant
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1/3 cup chickpea flour (or other flour)
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 tablespoon ground flax
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
- generous grating black pepper
- olive oil spray if needed
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 3 medium tomatoes finely chopped
- 1/8-1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (adjust spiciness to taste)
- salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 1/8 cup pinenuts
- 2 teaspoons chopped garlic
- 4 cup baby spinach
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
- 2 tablespoons water or vegetable broth
Preheat oven to 375 F. Trim off the end and cut the eggplant in half lengthwise. Place the two halves cut-side down on a baking sheet. Bake until completely soft, about 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool until easy to handle.
Scoop the pulp from the eggplant halves into a food processor. Add all remaining ingredients and puree until fairly smooth.
Spray a non-stick skillet with olive oil, if you think it might stick, and heat to medium-high. When it’s hot, spoon in the eggplant batter using about 3 tablespoons per pancake. Cook until the bottoms are browned and pancakes appear firm. (There’s really no way to tell this but to try to turn one over; if it crumples, it’s not ready.) Turn over carefully and brown the other side, pressing lightly with a spatula from time to time. Place on a platter and keep warm.
Bring a non-stick saucepan to medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté just a few seconds. Add remaining ingredients to the pan and cook until tomatoes soften. Keep warm.
Over medium heat, toast the pine nuts in a skillet until they start to become golden. Add the garlic and sauté for one more minute. Add the spinach, basil, and water, cover the pan, and cook just until spinach wilts, about 2-3 minutes. Serve immediately.
To assemble, place a pancake on a plate. Put 1/3 of the spinach on top of it and top with another pancake. Spoon 1/3 of the tomato sauce over the top and serve.
Nutrition info below includes pine nuts. Without pine nuts: 140 Calories (kcal); 3g Total Fat; (14% calories from fat); 7g Protein; 26g Carbohydrate; 0mg Cholesterol; 848mg Sodium; 8g Fiber.