Chickpea pancakes with spicy egg, ham and chard

With Pancake Day on Tuesday, magazines and the internet are awash with pancake recipes, so do forgive me for jumping on the bandwagon and sharing yet another one. But this one is a keeper and makes an ideal brunch, light lunch or supper dish at anytime of year.

So no pressure. Stick to your favourite pancake recipe on Shrove Tuesday (hopefully liberally doused with lots of lemon and sugar), but maybe give this a go some other time you’re in a pancakey kind of mood?

This was the first time I used chickpea (gram) flour in pancakes and was really surprised at just how delicious they were. I realise I’m a bit a slow on the uptake here. The brilliant Yotam Ottolenghi has apparently been raving about chickpea flour for yonks. My basic pancake recipe came from Alice Hart’s The New Vegetarian, who simply combines chickpea flour with water, salt and herbs – in her case wild garlic which I substituted for dried herbes de Provence – and you wouldn’t believe just how good such simplicity can taste, nor how light and delicate the pancakes are. I look forward to experimenting some more with chickpea flour. I think it might lend itself rather well to flatbread. I’ll keep you posted on how that goes…

Alice Hart served her chickpea pancakes with a fried egg, asparagus and wild garlic pesto. Doesn’t that sound so good? As it’s not asparagus nor wild garlic season, I chose to top my pancakes with wilted chard, Italian baked ham, Parmesan and a lightly spiced fried egg. Oh and a drizzle of Pomora cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil. And boy was it good.

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Chickpea pancakes with spicy egg, ham and chard

Serves 4

100g chickpea (gram) flour
½ tsp dried herbes de Provence
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp olive oil for frying the pancakes and chard
200g chard
4 free range eggs
1 tbsp sunflower or vegetable oil
½ tsp smoked paprika
4 thick slices of baked ham
75g Parmesan, grated
Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling

Place the chickpea flour in a large bowl and gradually whisk in around 150ml of water until it creates a smooth batter with the consistency of pouring cream. Mix in the dried herbs and salt. Set aside for ideally four hours at room temperature, but at least 30 minutes.

Put four plates in a low oven to warm.

Wash and drain the chard. Slice off the stalks, and roughly chop both the leaves and stalks separately. In a large pan, gently heat 2 tbsp olive oil and add the chard stalks. Cook for a few minutes until they just begin to soften. Add the chopped leaves and cook for a few minutes more until just beginning to wilt. Remove from the heat and keep warm.

When you’re ready to cook the pancakes, wipe a heavy, non-stick frying pan with a little olive oil on a piece of kitchen paper. Place the pan over a high heat until it starts to smoke, then reduce to a medium heat. Spoon a ladleful of the pancake batter into the pan and swirl it around so it coats the pan evenly. Cook for 10-20 seconds, then carefully flip it over with a spatula and cook the other side. When golden, remove to a plate and keep warm while you cook the other three pancakes. Continue to keep warm while you fry your eggs.

In the non-stick frying pan, heat a tablespoonful of sunflower or vegetable oil along and mix in the paprika. When hot, break in an egg (one or two at a time) and fry until the white is set and crispy at the edges but the yoke is still runny. Remove and drain on kitchen paper. Keep warm until all the eggs are fried.

Time to plate up. Place a pancake on each plate. Lay the wilted chard on top, followed by a slice of ham and a fried egg. Sprinkle with a little grated Parmesan, followed by a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Serve and eat at once.

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