I have the answer to leftovers that are still quite fine, but have overstayed their welcome – turn them into chewy Shanghai pancakes. The other day I made some of my Italian uncle’s favorite “Scarola e Fagioli,” or White Beans and Greens for lunch, but with the abundance of food right now, we had a lot left over. I dind’t actually use escarole, but rather, red stemmed swiss chard. While sitting in the fridge, the swiss chard converted the beans to a feisty shade of pink and the whole dish became a little mushy all around, although still quite tasty. Nevertheless, this leftover concoction of pretty in pinks will not be consumed by the boys in the house, and I cannot possibly eat it all myself. So, I got to thinking, how can I repurpose rather than waste? I could turn the leftovers into little fried croquettes or make a baked torta…or hmmm, how about a savory Asian style pancake topped with the leftover egg roll sauce from yesterday? That’s it!
I found a delicious looking recipe for Scallion Pancakes a couple of weeks ago on a site called, “Lick My Spoon,” and the pictures have been haunting me ever since. This is one of those addicting foods that the human being can’t get out of the brain, but I was deterred as the recipe, with its kneading and waiting, seemed a little too involved for my lazy cooking style. After deciding on savory pancakes, I assumed I would take a shortcut and whip the leftovers into a pancake batter to pour on a griddle, but I found myself instead drawn to the Shanghai manner of a rolled dough cake. I like how the dough is firm when the savories are added. I just couldn’t resist giving it a try, but with some modifications. My shortcuts: I didn’t boil the water, but instead used cold, I shortened the kneading time to only a couple of minutes, and I didn’t let the dough sit. I whipped it up and rolled it out!
Not only did I top the dough with the leftover Scarola e Fagioli, but I also used up the leftover fennel pesto. I wanted to include onions as well, so I sauteed two of the skinny reds that came from my Foxtail CSA. The picture above shows only the onions.
After you get the leftovers spread evenly across the dough, roll it up like you would a cinnamon roll and then coil it like a snake. For the final roll, I would recommend you roll this bad boy out on a floured pizza board because it is very hard to move once it’s flattened. Place the coil on the board and very gently roll it out until it’s about as big as your biggest frying pan or griddle – perhaps 12 inches or so. Once it’s on the floured pizza board you can gently slide it off into the hot oiled pan. Here’s where you want to look at the illustrations on “Lick My Spoon” – it will be very clear how to roll it out. I let it cook until it was browned on the bottom then flipped it over. It was fantastic with the spicy egg roll sauce from yesterday! Thumbs were up all around the house for this one and unfortunately, we don’t have any leftovers!
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup water – perhaps a dribble more to get all the flour incorporated
oil to coat frying pan
Directions: Mix the flour and water together until blended. Turn it out onto a well floured counter and knead for 2 or 3 minutes until the dough is smooth. Follow the directions above for filling, rolling, coiling and re-rolling.
Note: Notice the recipe does not include salt. You will want to include a little salt in whatever sauce you top these with. We used the egg roll sauce with soy sauce, sesame oil, mirin, rice wine vinegar, honey or agave nectar and chiles.