April 22, 2013

Hidden Vegetables

Serving pancakes for dinner is incredibly indulgent. It's my guilty little trick for when I didn't plan a meal for a particular night, or I don't really feel like cooking anything elaborate. Normally, I'll use the world's best pancake recipe (courtesy of Mark Bittman), but with a growing toddler, I needed a way to lessen my Mommy guilt over serving pancakes instead of a well-rounded dinner. 

You might have seen that I'm a bit of a stalker fan of Smitten Kitchen's food blog. I found this recipe in her archives and, as you can guess, rushed to make them. You know how really really good zucchini bread can taste spicy, sweet and wholesome in the same mouthful? That's how these pancakes taste. You are eating pancakes for dinner (or breakfast!) but you're also eating GREEN VEGETABLES! It's a revelation!

I always double this recipe, so that I can flash-freeze the leftovers and have an easy breakfast for the little dude throughout the week. 

Zucchini Bread Pancakes
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen  

2 large eggs
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons light brown, dark brown or granulated sugar
1/4 cup buttermilk or 2 tablespoons each of milk and plain yogurt, whisked until smooth
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups shredded zucchini (from about 1 1/2 medium zucchini)
1 cup all-purpose flour (half of this can be swapped with a whole wheat flour. Make them even healthier, right?)
1/4 teaspoon table salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground or freshly grated nutmeg
Butter or oil, for coating skillet 

In a large bowl, combine eggs, olive oil, sugar, buttermilk and vanilla until smooth. Stir in zucchini shreds. In a smaller bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg. Stir dry ingredients into zucchini batter, mixing until just combined.

I practice the Alton Brown method of pancake-storage: Place pancakes on a plate and cover with a clean dishcloth to keep warm. It makes for easy taste-testing access while you're cooking more!

Heat a large, heavy skillet over medium heat. Once hot, melt a pat of butter in pan and swirl it around until it sizzles. Scoop scant 1/4-cup dollops of batter in pan so the puddles do not touch. Cook until bubbles appear on the surface, about 2 to 3 minutes. Flip pancakes and cook another minute or two, until golden underneath. Serve warm.

To flash freeze leftovers: Arrange pancakes in a single layer on a cookie sheet, and place into the freezer for an hour. Once they are frozen, remove pancakes and store them in the freezer in a tightly sealed bag. The flash process will ensure that they don't stick together!