Savory puffy pancake with chickpeas, tomatoes and chard

Savory chickpea pancake with chard, tomatoes and chickpeas

Savory chickpea pancake with chard, tomatoes and chickpeas

Some faces are more symmetrical than others. Some lips are fuller, some eyes are bigger, some skin is smoother or paler or tanner. (And, yes, some girls are bigger than others, and some girls’ mothers are bigger than other girls’ mothers.) And in some decades or some centuries paleness or tan-ness is valued, sometimes society dictates that full lips are aesthetically pleasing, sometimes it’s rosebud lips, sometimes it’s plumpness, sometimes it’s skinniness. Fashion is fickle, society is fickle, and as individuals our ideas about human beauty are mysteriously linked to the aesthetic preferences of society-as-a-whole. And of course everybody knows about inner beauty. Intelligence, humor, kindness, compassion, all shine in a person’s face and make them more beautiful; it’s (probably) a scientifically proven fact. But somehow this notion still implies a judgement from without, and it removes the spirit from the body, it sets aside the physical. I’ve been thinking about a different definition of beauty that’s both physical and even more deeply inner than the cliché that the phrase “inner beauty” has become. It’s a definition of beauty that we own, ourselves. I think our bodies are beautiful because of the pleasure that they give us. And this pleasure comes in many forms: it could be in tasting food, or hearing music, or making something with our hands. It could be in running or dancing or feeling the strength of our muscles. The mind is part of the body, too, so we can take pleasure in thinking, even in something as simple as that. And, of course, it could be in “the great joy that they had expected, and countless little joys of which they had never dreamt,” to borrow a phrase from EM Forster that I’ve always thought and hoped was a euphemism for physical love. Your body is beautiful because it is capable of doing these things and feeling these things, and you can walk through this world glowing with this knowledge. And the real beauty of this definition of beauty, is that though it comes from inside of you, and it is yours, all of these things are more pleasurable and more beautiful and more glowing when they are shared with somebody else.

This beauty doesn’t change with the seasons and the fads. This beauty is strength against insecurity bred by cruel comments and the constant bombardment of images of people who look different and supposedly better than you. Certainly your body changes as you age, but you will find new ways that it brings you pleasure. You will be beautiful forever, and your beauty is yours.

Savory pancake with chickpeas, tomatoes and chard

Savory pancake with chickpeas, tomatoes and chard

My oven is broken! It’s the strangest thing. It gets to a certain temperature, and then it just stops. It decides that’s quite hot enough, thank you. So I’ve had a nice time the last few days thinking of ways to cook things without it. The stovetop still works, and the broiler. So I decided to make this sort of puffy savory pancake to cook over sautéed vegetables. I cooked it first in the skillet, with the lid on, and then I put it under the broiler for a minute or two to brown up. I suppose it’s not all that different from a yorkshire pudding, except that it’s not baked at all. And it’s similar to socca, because it has a bit of chickpea flour in it. We had some beautiful chard from the farm, and I love chard, tomatoes and chickpeas, so that seemed like a nice under layer for the whole project. You could add olives or capers, I think they’d be nice here, but I’ve been putting them in everything lately, so I left them out.

Here is, of course, The Smiths with Some Girls are Bigger than Others.

FOR THE CHICKPEAS

1 T olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 t rosemary, crumbled or chopped
2 t fresh savory, chopped
pinch red pepper flakes
1 can chickpeas (15 oz), rinsed and drained
1 large handful cherry or grape tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 small bunch chard, cleaned, stemmed and chopped quite fine
1 T butter
dash of lemon juice or balsamic
salt, freshly ground pepper

In a large skillet (with a metal handle and a lid) over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Add the garlic, stir and cook a minute or two, and then add the herbs. When the garlic starts to brown, add the chickpeas. Stir to coat, and then add the tomatoes and the chard. Add a little water, and cook for five or ten minutes, until the chard is wilted but bright. Season with salt and pepper, and stir in the butter and lemon. You don’t want this mixture to get too dry, because it will burn when you add the pancake batter. Not that I did that, or anything.

THE PANCAKE BATTER

2 eggs
1/3 cup chickpea flour
1/2 cup regular flour
1 t baking powder
1 cup milk
a few ounces of mozzarella, chopped
salt and plenty of freshly ground pepper

In a food processor, combine everything and process until quite smooth. You’ll still have small lumps of cheese, probably, but that’s okay.

Pour this mixture over the chard, spreading it with a knife or spoon, and then cover the pan and return to medium heat. Cook for about five minutes, while you’re preheating the broiler. It should puff up, but still be quite pale and shiny, until you…

Put it under the broiler for about two minutes, until it’s well-puffed and golden. Don’t burn your hand when you take it out of the oven!!

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