Food That Loves You Back is a cookbook that was conceived during the early months of the Covid-19 pandemic, in early 2020. Like so many others, food stylist and private chef, Amerae Vercul, found herself without work and extra time on her hands to fulfil a long-time dream – write a cookbook that focuses on healthy eating.
Food That Loves You Back showcases the dishes Amerae eats daily – plant-based meals that are filled with colorful fresh produce. The cookbook is divided by ingredients. Each section stars two or more ingredients, mostly produce, that are then cooked multiple ways to make different dishes. For example, in the beetroot and brussel sprouts section, there’s whole beets, a beet and brinjal salad, beetroot tzatziki, roasted brussel sprouts, and a slaw. The recipes are simple, plant-based (with the occasional addition of dairy, eggs, fish and meat, which in all cases can be easily substituted out), and true to Amerae’s profession as a food stylist – a feast for your eyes. The plating and photography are so beautiful, it immediately invites you to want to whip up one of her fresh and colorful dishes.
The recipe I’m sharing comes from the Lentils & Chickpea section. She provides a basic recipe for a chickpea pancake (which some, like myself, refer to as a crepe), along with various topping options like lentil dhal, hummus and roasted vegetables, and the topping which I’m sharing – brinjals, tomatoes and labneh.
It’s a meal that whips up quickly and provides you with a delicious and light, but substantial lunch or dinner. I naturally used my homemade labneh, but if you don’t care to make it or can’t find, you can use cream cheese as the spread instead. For a vegan alternative, a hummus or bean dip would give you that creamy texture.
Chickpea Pancakes with Brinjals, Tomatoes & Labneh from Food That Loves You Back
- 1 cup chickpea flour
- 1 cup lukewarm water
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon pink salt
- 1 medium brinjal
- olive oil for frying
- ¼ cup labneh or smooth cream cheese
- 4 marinated sundried tomatoes
- 4-6 rosa tomatoes cut in half
- baby spinach leaves
- olive oil
- Place all the ingredients in a bowl. Whisk until smooth. Set aside to rest for atleast 20 minutes, or refigerate overnight. (If chilled, remove from the fridge 10 minutes before cooking).
- Heat a small non-stick pan over medium heat. Pour a teaspoon of olive oil into the pan and use a paper towel to spread it out. Ladle 1/2 cup batter into the pan. Cook for 2 minutes, flip and cook on the opposite side. Repeat with the remaining batter, to make 4 pancakes.
- Slice the brinjal thinly, place in a collander, sprinkle with salt and leave for 10 minutes to allow excess moisture drain. Rinse and Pat dry.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a nonstick pan and fry the brinjals in batches until golden brown. Drain on a paper towel and pat dry.
- Spread 1-2 tablespoons of labneh or cream cheese over each pancake. Top with slices of pan-fried brinjal, slice sundried and fresh tomatoes, and baby spinach leaves and finish with a drizzle of olive oil.
Food that Loves You Back is published by Penguin Random House and is available here.
Recipe is reprinted with permission from the publisher. Images are by Nutreats Food Photography Studio.
Zissy is the co-founder of Nutreats. She likes to make things, do things and wear things.