Welcome to Moldova: Eggplant Pancakes with Roasted Pepper Sauce and Fried Eggs

It’s Pancake Wednesday!

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Okay, this doesn’t have the same effect for me as Pancake Sunday, but it did give me another idea for pancake Sunday for next time I host brunch.

This pancake comes from Moldova and is actually a savory pancake. Yeah. Weird. I don’t do that.

Before I talk more about this pancake, let’s talk about Moldova. Before this, I didn’t know much more about that little Eastern European country other than Eric Weiner found it to be the unhappiest place on Earth, chronicled in his book The Geography of Bliss (the happiest being Bhutan. Probably because they put butter in their tea). Moldova is a landlocked country situated between Romania and the Ukraine. Like every nation (perhaps other than the US), the cuisine of the people is influenced by the topography and geography there. While mostly continental, it’s just a hop skip and a jump from The Black Sea. The rich fertile soil in that area has made Moldova the perfect hotspot for wineries, and wine making is a large part of the nation’s exports.

As for the food, because that’s why I’m here anyway, Moldovan dishes utilize tons of vegetables, such as tomatoes, bell peppers, eggplant, cabbage, beans, onion, garlic, and leek and prepared in any number of ways- baked, steamed, pickled, salted, or marinated. All of these things listed above sound a lot like the foods of its neighbors and the influence of the Ukraine, Romania, Hungary, Greece, Russia and Turkey is not lost.

It being summer, and Moldovan food consisting of not ice cream, I had a hard time coming up with something interesting to make. I found a recipe for an eggplant pancake, placinta cu vinete, on  Milk and Pumpkin and figured I could do something that combined this simple pancake recipe with other traditional Moldovan flavors. The result was ah-ma-zing and I may have broken a world record on how fast I shoved this in my face. Again, great brunch alternative or general alternative to the popular potato pancake.

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Since the pancake itself doesn’t have much pizzaz, I roasted some orange bell peppers (savor the summer!) and pureed them with some goat cheese (duh) and lemon juice, coming up with a nice sauce for my pancake. I topped all of the above with a runny egg and some basil (since I’m going through egg withdrawal from the egg overload of last week). Bazinga!

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Serves 1-2 (depending on how big your eggplant is)

For the pancake:

1 large eggplant

2 egg whites

¼ cup flour (I used gluten-free)*

1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

1 tsp minced garlic

Salt and pepper to taste

Olive oil for roasting the eggplants and for the skillet

*More, if you find your batter to be too watery

Directions

1.  Preheat the oven to 400F. In a baking dish, coat the eggplants in olive oil and poke a few holes in each of them to prevent an eggplant explosion. Bake about 40 minutes until they are soft and tender. Set aside and let cool a bit.

2.  Once the eggplants have cooled, peel and de-seed them, and throw them in a food processor or blender and puree until relatively smooth (it can be a bit chunky if you wish). Add the rest of the ingredients. Pulse until just combined.

3.  Heat non-stick skillet or griddle over medium heat and coat the bottom with a thin layer of oil. Using a 1/4 cup measure, pour pancake batter onto hot griddle. When pancake is golden brown, flip to cook other side. Top with the sauce and an egg and Mmmm…joy

For the pepper sauce

Makes about 1 cup

Ingredients

3 orange peppers

¼ cup soft goat cheese

1 lemon, juiced

1 tsp, heaping, of minced garlic

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions

1.  Under the broiler, broil the peppers until their skins blister and turn black (alternatively, you can do what I did and just blacken the skins on a gas grill or broiler).

2.  Place roasted pepper in a heatproof bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and let them steam for 10 minutes (or, alternatively, a brown paper bag). Once cool, using a paper towel, removed the blackened skins and seeds.

3.  Add the peppers and everything else to a blender or food processor. Pulse to desired consistency.

To assemble, extra ingredients

As many poached eggs as you have pancakes.

Basil or parsley to garnish

Here’s the order of things:

Basil

Egg

Sauce

Pancake

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Happy Eating!

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