July 14 is Bastille Day, the French holiday commemorating the storming of the Bastille to begin the French Revolution in 1789.
While the French are celebrating with parades, dances, and fireworks, I considered commemorating the day with a cake, a la Marie Antoinette. Although that notion has a certain humorous appeal, the reality is that I’m not very good at baking cakes. But my thoughts having turned in the direction of French cooking, who better to look to for inspiration than the incomparable Dorie Greenspan? So I flipped through my copy of Around My French Table, pausing here and there on the many recipes that I have marked with paper tabs.
And I landed on the recipe for Farçous, or Swiss Chard Pancakes. My garden is bursting with chard right now, so I am happy to incorporate it into as many recipes as possible. Every night I head outside with a colander and a pair of kitchen scissors, to snip a basket of greens for dinner.
These savory pancakes only take about ten minutes to mix up, and a few more to cook. They are springy and tender, filling but not heavy. The flavor is mild, and the fresh, bright notes of the chard and onions are surprisingly addictive. Somehow, they manage to be simultaneously elegant and homey–the perfect, simple summer meal to enjoy on the patio with a crisp glass of white wine, in the slanting evening sunshine.
So this Bastille Day I say: Let them eat pancakes!
Farçous (Swiss Chard Pancakes)
(adapted from Around My French Table, by Dorie Greenspan)
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup spelt flour
- 1 large egg and 1 yolk (or two small eggs)
- ½ cup finely chopped green onions
- 3 garlic cloves, pressed
- 2 tbsp minced parsley
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 5 large swiss chard leaves, center ribs removed, washed, dried, and coarsely chopped
- About 1/4 cup vegetable or grapeseed oil
Preheat oven to 250 degrees F.
Put everything except the Swiss chard and oil in a blender or food processor, season the mix generously with salt and pepper (use more salt than you think you need), and process until the batter is smooth. Add the chard to the mix and incorporate it, leaving some bits of leaves unprocessed.
Pour ¼ inch of oil into a large skillet (cast iron works well for this) and place the skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot (a drop of batter should seize immediately), spoon in about ¼ cup batter for each pancake — don’t crowd the pan. Cook the pancakes for about 3 minutes, until the underside is nicely browned and the edges are browned and curled. Carefully flip the pancakes over and cook for another 2 minutes or so. Transfer the pancakes to a paper-towel-lined cookie sheet, and keep warm in the oven while you continue to make pancakes.
Makes about six 6-inch pancakes.
These can be made ahead and gently rewarmed in the oven, and they freeze well.