Recipe tip: this recipe is designed to help people utilise leftovers and minimise waste in the kitchen.
Having spent much of Christmas cooking, it’s difficult to muster the energy to think of original but simple ways of using up the ubiquitous festive leftovers.
Here is a delicious recipe that transforms leftover cheese and ham into a very lovely pile of oozing, moreish pancakes – this is comfort food at it’s best. If you don’t have ham to hand you can substitute with turkey and for vegetarians use leftover veg. These will be so popular you’ll end up making them even when you don’t have leftovers lurking. If you don’t have the time or inclination to make pancakes from scratch you can use ready-made ones with a low or no sugar content.
For the pancakes:
3 medium eggs
220g plain flour
Whole milk, enough to make a batter the consistency of whipping cream
Salt & pepper
Knob of butter and a splash of oil for frying
For the filling
2 tablespoons olive oil plus a little extra for greasing
1 red onion, peeled and finely diced
2 sticks celery, trimmed and sliced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
200g frozen spinach, thawed, drained and chopped
Salt and pepper
Small bunch of chives, chopped
300g leftover ham, shredded
150g leftover cheese, any cheese will work well
1 small tub cottage cheese
100g grated Parmesan
200ml liquid from cooking the ham or vegetable stock made using a cube.
- Pancake batter improves if it’s left to stand for a while, so start by making this. Whisk together the eggs and flour then gradually add the milk, still whisking, until you have a smooth batter the consistency of whipping cream.
- Add a pinch of salt and pepper then leave the mixture to stand at room temperature while you prepare the filling.
- Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy based pan over a medium heat. Add the onions, celery, and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes until the vegetables are starting to soften. Add the spinach, stir to combine and cook so that any excess liquid evaporates.
- While the spinach is cooking, start to make the pancakes. Heat a medium frying pan (preferably 20cm) and add the butter and a splash of oil.
- Pour in a ladleful of pancake batter, evenly coating the base of the pan.
- Cook for about 30 seconds, loosen the pancake then flip and cook the other side.
- Repeat the process until you have 8 pancakes, piling the pancakes between leaves of baking paper as you go.
- Remove the filling from the heat, lift out 4-heaped tablespoons of the mixture and set aside.
- Add the chives, ham, leftover cheese and cottage cheese to the mixture in the pan and stir until completely amalgamated. Season to taste.
- Preheat the oven to 180ºC (170ºC fan oven), gas 5.
- Lightly grease an ovenproof dish approximately 20cm x 30cm. Put a pancake on a work surface, top with 2 spoonfuls of filling in a line down the centre, sprinkle with Parmesan, roll up like a cigar and place in the baking dish.
- Continue with the remaining pancakes, using up all but a heaped tablespoon of the Parmesan. Put the remaining spinach mixture in a blender with 150ml stock. Blend to make a smooth, pouring sauce, adding more stock if necessary.
- Pour the sauce over the pancakes, sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan and bake until the cheese is melted and the vegetables are hot – this will take about 25 minutes.