I am a lazy vegetarian. A lazytarian? I will happily put bacon with anything – even cookies – but only if someone else has done the shopping. I will make delicious meatballs – but only for a hungry crowd. And I will probably sneak in a kilo of carrots as well to avoid a peanut-butter-induced heart attack.
When I am on my own, I much prefer a plate of vegetables. Spicy savoury burmese cabbage – neon yellow from the turmeric – topped with a fried egg and toasted hazelnuts. Split pea soup. Lentils with balsamic vinegar and goat’s cheese. Hippy food. Food that I am a little embarassed to share.
But sometimes, lacking in inspiration and pasta sauce, hippy food is the only option. Sometimes it turns out to be a colourful triumph – a plate piled high with fluffy green fritters, a kitchen that smells like India. From the mix of vegetables and spices grabbed haphazardly from the cupboard, we almost made restaurant food. Except that there was no bacon.
This can only be a very rough recipe. You need some grated vegetables for body and colour. Some eggs, yoghurt and flour for binding. (Beaten egg whites for extra fluff.) Chickpeas for texture. Onions, turmeric and chili for punchy flavour. Thinly sliced red pepper for a final colour splash. Add, subtract and taste as you go along. Be heavy-handed with the spices, because the delicate lemon-spiced yoghurt will cool any chili-burned tongues.
Kitchen cupboard pancakes
feeds two adventurous people
1 courgette, grated
2 shallots OR 1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 red pepper, thinly sliced
200g chickpeas (1/2 tin)
chunk of parmesan, grated
2 eggs – separated
50g yoghurt (1/2 small pot)
3 tbsp flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp chili (or more, as you like)
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp rosemary
the other half of the yoghurt pot
juice of 1/2 lemon
(fresh herbs if you have any – e.g. mint)
Beat the egg whites in a clean dry bowl until stiff. (Turn bowl upside to check.) Mix everything else – apart from the red pepper – in another big bowl. Fold in the egg whites very gently so as not to deflate them too much.
Heat a big frying pan (or two) with a little olive oil. Dollop big spoons of mixture into the pan – make pancakes about the size of a beer coaster – and top each one with three slices of red pepper, arranged in a fan for added restaurant flair. When they are dark brown and firm on one side, flip over and cook for another two minutes.
Stir the lemon juice into the yoghurt. Pile the pancakes on a platter and serve straightaway, covered with fresh herbs and lemon yoghurt on the side.