Beet Pancakes

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On June 20, Red Fire Farm hosted their annual Strawberry Soirée. This event is a day-long festival celebrating these juicy, bright red berries. You can see all the fun here in Red Fire's photo album

The day concludes with The Feast in The Fields, a vegetarian, farm-centric meal. For the last two years, I've had the pleasure of being the chef for this event. It's a lot of fun and engaging professional challenge to prepare many courses, for many people, from the gorgeous fruit and vegetables grown on the farm. 

Whenever I feed a large group of people, I'm always curious to see which dish is the most popular. Sometimes the group is split as to a favorite, but last Saturday these beet pancakes were the belle of the ball!

Mary

Beet Pancakes

If you've ever made a latke (potato pancake), this recipe will look very familiar to you. For the Feast, I kept things gluten free by using chickpea flour in the mix, but you can use all-purpose flour if gluten isn't a problem for you. 

If you aren't a fan of cumin, leave the spices out and add 2 tablespoons of minced fresh herbs instead. 

These are also easily made ahead. Store in the refrigerator and reheat in a 350-degree oven in a single layer on a sheet pan until hot, about 10 minutes.

Yields 12-15 3-inch pancakes. Serving 4 as a side dish, 2 as an entrée.

  • 1 pound beets*, scrubbed well and peeled if you prefer (if your beet skin are tender a good scrub to remove dirt is fine)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin (preferably freshly ground from toasted cumin seeds)
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Pinch cayenne
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon salt, to taste
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons flour, depending on how "juicy" your beets are (all purpose, whole wheat, chickpea, corn flour ... all will work, just use what you have on hand)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Oil for frying

Trim the beets. Using a box grater (watch your knuckles!) or a food processor, shred the beets and transfer to a bowl.

Stir in the spices and salt, starting with the smaller amount of salt. Taste the mix and adjust the amount of herbs and salt to your preference. Stir in the smaller amount of flour and egg. If the mix is very wet, you can add additional flour. The mix will still be fairly moist. 

Heat a griddle or cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, lightly film the surface with oil. Form loose pancakes by dropping 2 to 3 tablespoons of the mixture onto the pan, pressing down to compact. Cook for about 3 minutes, then flip, pressing down again. Cook another 3-5 minutes. Both sides will appear dry and a little crisp. 

Serve with a squeeze of lemon, herbs, and/or crumbled cheese. 

* If your beets have their tops, sauté them with a little garlic and some white beans and make it a meal.