Monday, September 8, 2008

Gluten-Free Review: Viva la Campagna! (con pancakes!)

The coast ranges of Central Oregon don't really have much in common with the coast ranges of Italy's Campagna. More maples and pines, not so many olives and cedars. But we found Campagna Gourmet's delectable Olive and Sundried Tomato Pesto at a country farm stand on the main road from Salem (not Salerno) to Pacific City, and snagged a jar for beach picnicking.

... Which we totally forgot to do. As I was putting away some of the last bits from the wedding trip (read: The "Where the heck are we going to put this?!" boxes) I spied the jar, along with a Hot Pepper Jelly (from the same company) we picked up at the same time.

Pestos are usually loaded with Parmesan cheese, so finding a vegan pesto is always a bonus. The texture is spot-on. It has a smooth yet coarse mouth feel, with just the right amount of oiliness, and little flavor bursts from the herbs.

As a spread, though, the richness of the sundried tomatoes and the oily delight of the olives is overwhelmed by the salt content. Unfortunately, it's just too salty. What this product is perfectly suited for is blending; it would be an exquisite base for puttanesca sauce, or folded into hummous for a flavor boost.

I love savoury pancakes, and the pesto makes a perfect addition (as well as a garnish). Normally my savoury pancakes are full of veggies in varying combinations, but in the interest of letting the pesto take the spotlight, I've simply added some fresh tomatoes and chopped sweet onions. I used amaranth and millet from my bulk grain jars, coarse-milled just before cooking in my coffee grinder for maximum freshness! :)

The pesto adds an intense depth to these rustic cakes, set off by the sweetness of the onions and tomatoes. The kale, with its dark, bitter overtones, is the perfect complement.

Campagna Pancakes

2/3 cup millet flour
2/3 cup amaranth flour
1/4 cup tapioca starch
1/2 tsp. salt (optional)
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. vinegar
1 1/4 cups unsweetened soymilk
1/4 cup Campagna Olive and Sundried Tomato Pesto
2 roma tomatoes, halved lengthwise and sliced (into little half-moons)
1/4 sweet onion, chopped
1 small bunch of basil, chopped

Stir together dry ingredients in a large bowl. Fold in soymilk and mix thoroughly. Then, add Campagna (I just like saying it - say it with me now: Caaampaagnaaa) Pesto, tomatoes, basil, and chopped onion.

Dip a 1/4 cup measure into the batter and pour into a large frying pan over medium heat (about three per batch). Cook on one side until the bubbles pop and batter doesn't sink back in.

When the down side arrives at a nice dark golden brown, flip! When the second side reaches the same color, go ahead and take 'em out. Next round...

Be sure to serve them hot and crispy, as they lose that nice texture after sitting a while. If you must let them stand, try putting them on a wire grate rather than a platter.

Garnish with chiffonaded basil, a dollop of the pesto and some simple kale (below). Makes about 18 pancakes.

Simple Kale

1/4 sweet onion, chopped
6 kale leaves, stemmed & chopped
2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 tsp lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
Olive oil for frying

In a pan, warm oil over medium heat. Add onions and saute until golden. Toss in kale leaves, lemon juice and vinegar, and saute for about a minute, just until the kale brightens in color. Transfer to a bowl to prevent overcooking.


JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

Those pancakes look great! :) I love the idea of savory ones. I am going to have to try that as I tend not to be a big fan of the regular kind.

I love love love hot pepper jelly! You are going to enjoy that - I bet it would be awesome as a glaze on some fried tofu! Or mixed with vegan cream cheese as a spread for crackers.

Lyra said...

I'm not a big fan of sweet pancakes, either. Whenever I make pancakes, they're almost always savoury. :) I love indian-spiced ones with grated zucchini and carrots, toooo!

The hot pepper jelly is damn good! I haven't opened this jar, but I got to taste it at the farm stand. The guy behind the counter was like "Oh, speaking of this company... You HAVE to try this!!" hehe. I'm brainstorming right now as to what to do with it. ;)

Anna's Spot said...

I want to try that too. I agree with jenndz. I am not a regular pancake fan but those look great. I hate to eat sweet things in the am. Thanks for the recipes I can wait to try them.
Have a beautiful day.

Laume said...

You are inspiring me in so many ways! Now this reminds me of the frittata that my (ex, but we still love each other) MIL taught me to make. And my dad's latkes. Again, take it a step further and make other savory pancakes. Whodathunk!? Well, you did, obviously.

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