Prosciutto, Apple & Arugula Pancakes
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This recipe is part of a mini-series of savory pancake recipes. For more variations and tips/tricks related to the basic batter (and scratch-made pancakes in general) CLICK HERE!
When I started working on this mini-series of savory pancake recipes, I thought to myself “Oh this will be fun, AND easy!” Well, it was fun, and the recipes themselves were easy (and they will be for you too), but I ended up falling down a bit of an unexpected rabbit hole when it came time to do a little write-up for them. I mean yes, I could have just kept on trucking and ignored the little curiosity that popped up instead of writing all about it, but that’s not how I roll. Instead, I found myself thinking an awful lot about just how important a name is in this digital era.
What should I call these pancakes? Are these the US-style ‘savory pancakes with prosciutto and arugula’ or a more UK-friendly ‘savoury American pancakes with prosciutto and rocket’? Well, I’m personally inclined to toss that US-style arugula together with the savoury-with-a-u to make a hybrid sentence. Because Canada. As I mentioned in one of the other pancake recipes, Canadian English can get a little quirky at times. We Canucks use a hodgepodge of British and American spellings and terms (plus some French for good measure), a combination of metric and imperial measurements, and a good smattering of terms and phrases that are uniquely our own. That’s fine if your audience is composed solely of Canadians, but English language blogging is highly global; there’s a good chance that you’re reading this from the USA, UK, or another not-Canada place, and I want you to know what the heck I’m talking about. That brings us back to our recipe title, and to today’s green veggie. The peppery, lemony green that you see mounded on top of these fluffy, salty/sweet pancakes is commonly called arugula in North America, and rocket in the rest of the English-speaking world. Those two words seem rather different, but they’re actually much more closely related than they seem at first blush. And, as with so many English words, they found their way into common usage through the bastardization and modification of other languages.
Did you ever play broken telephone as a kid? It’s the game where one person whispers a phrase into the ear of the person next to them, who then repeats the process with their neighbour. The phrase makes its way down the line one person at a time until it reaches the end, at which point it’s compared to the initial phrase. It’s usually very different, and everyone has a good laugh when they see how quickly things have unraveled. It’s a fun little game to play, but it’s also hilariously illustrative of the ongoing evolution of the English language.1 Let’s look at arugula (rocket) as an example. Imagine that, instead of one line of people playing broken telephone, we have an extra long line and we start in the middle. The person in the middle whispers the phrase to both of their immediate neighbours. This continues in a chain, with the phrase moving in both directions and reaching the two termini of the line. I don’t think that any of us would expect to hear the same phrase on both ends – in fact that would be shocking. Now imagine a line stretching over thousands of people and hundreds of years, and you’ve got the evolution of the words arugula and rocket. The scientific name for arugula is Eruca vesicaria, and if you’re thinking that Eruca looks like it’s sort of in between arugula and rocket, then 10 internet points to you. Eruca is a Latin word that was used at some point in time to refer to at least one edible plant in the family Brassicaceae (the same family that includes kale, cabbage, broccoli, and many other foods). The term hopped from Latin to Old Italian, where it began to spread (primarily in a diminutive form, with some type of suffix – I’m guessing that this diminutive use is related to the tendency to use only the young, tender greens of the arugula/rocket plant, but I haven’t found anything to confirm or deny this yet). In standard Italian it became rucola, but in the Lombard Italian dialect it became arigola. Thanks to the complexities of immigration and linguistic drift, the Lombard arigola seems to have bled into US and Canadian English as arugula some time during the 1960s. But what about rocket? Well, it starts in exactly the same place – Latin eruca becomes ruca in Old Italian, and then the diminutive rochetta. This made it to France where it became roquette in Middle French. From there, it’s an easy hop to the English ‘rocket’.
Rocket and arugula have already ended up pretty far apart, but that we’re probably not done with this particular game of broken telephone either. The evolving nomenclature of this ingredient perfectly demonstrates how attempting to use culinary (rather than biological) terminology can actually deepen confusion. It’s common to see rocket referred to as rocket lettuce – I would imagine in an effort to emphasize the fact that you’re talking about leafy greens rather than spaceships and ballistics. But the plant is definitely not a lettuce. True lettuce is in a completely unrelated family of plants (Asteraceae – the daisy/sunflower family), while arugula is a relative of kale and cabbage (Brassicaceae). The term lettuce is biologically specific, but is being used as a culinary shorthand to mean ‘a leafy green, to be used in a salad.’ We often do the same thing with frisee, which is a type of endive, and not a lettuce – though it is in the same family as true lettuce. It’s a bit confusing, but I’m no curmudgeon about it – language evolves in strange and perplexing ways. In fact, I’m personally a big fan of any changes that happen for particularly funny reasons. Case in point: every time I say arugula out loud I feel a compulsion to say it like an old fashioned klaxon car horn. A-ROOOOOO-gula! Sadly, I don’t think my personal interest in the matter will have much influence on the evolution of this word, but it’s awesome to imagine a far-distant future where people sit down in a fancy restaurant and order a nice salad with some garden-fresh a-ROOOOOO-gula.
So has my search engine optimization and linguistic fettering worked? Time will tell, I suppose. You can always tell me in the comments just how you arrived here. But just so you know, I’d be delighted if you call this recipe whatever you feel like calling it. In fact, I say that we should just embrace the broken telephone. Pancakes? American pancakes? Griddle cakes? All good terms, but I’ve always been partial to flapjacks – a term that actually dates back to 16th century. It’s even in Shakespeare’s play Pericles, Prince of Tyre! Oddly enough, the word took an abrupt turn in the UK, and from the 1930s on has referred to a type of oat bar (akin to what we North Americans call a granola bar). In any case, ‘flapjacks’ is a fun start, but let’s keep on whispering in ears and see where we end up. Maybe we swap out the prosciutto for a bit of spice – some lovely capocollo! That already wonderful word was transformed by Neapolitan-American immigrants into the delightful ‘gabbagool.’ You might have bumped into that one in a few mafia-specific media. And maple syrup? Well I love the stuff, but perhaps my British readers would inclined to use a little treacle – a word that evolved from the Greek thēriakos, meaning ‘concerning venomous beasts.’ It seems that the word treacle first referred to a mixed medicine used to treat poisonings, snakebites, and other miscellaneous ailments. A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down, and so treacle evolved from a treatment into the syrup we know today.
Flapjacks, rocket, treacle, and gabbagool; it’s like a dictionary got thrown into a wood chipper. It’s the ridiculous linguistic smorgasbord the English language deserves. It may not be the most popular of search terms, but man is it ever fun to say.
The basic batter for this recipe is quite easy to make, but if you’re looking for any tips, or if you need to troubleshoot a little bit, check out this main post in my savory pancake series.
Unlike the other three recipes in this series, there’s no pre-cooking involved in this variation, so it’s the quickest and easiest of the bunch. As such, we’ll just spend a little time looking at some possible ingredient changes you could make.
Apples & Fruit Variations
Use any apples you have on hand, but if you’re shopping expressly for this recipe I’d use something with that balances sweetness with a bit of tartness. Jonagold, Red Rome, Mutsu (aka Crispin), and Honeycrisp would all work very nicely.
A number of other fruits would also work nicely in a sweet/savory recipe like this. Pear and figs both go exceptionally well with prosciutto. Peaches and apricots are quite nice too, though I would avoid particularly soft stone fruit for textural reasons. Melon is a classic accompaniment to the Italian cured meat, but it’s a bit harder to work into the pancakes because of the high water content. That being said, you could always try mixing the prosciutto into the batter, then top things off with diced melon and a little extra meat.
There’s no need to break the bank with a terribly expensive prosciutto variety here. Likewise, there are plenty of other cured meat options you can explore if you want to try something different. Dry, flavourful meats with a balance of fat and lean would work best – speck and pancetta would both work nicely. If you want to introduce a bit of spice, you could use capocollo, salami, or chorizo.
Note: Nutritional Information is given for a single serving (1/6th portion of the total recipe), including maple syrup.
No ingredient pages have been written yet for any of the ingredients in this recipe. Like to see one? Let me know in the comments below or by email.
No pantry pages have been written yet for any of the ingredients in this recipe. Like to see one? Let me know in the comments below or by email.
Prosciutto, Apple, & Arugula Savory Pancakes
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1.5 cups milk
- 1/3 cup melted butter (about 75 grams)
- 1 tbsp baking powder
Prosciutto, Apple, & Arugula variation
- 1.75 oz prosciutto chopped, plus extra to serve
- 1 medium apple diced, plus extra to serve
- 2 cups arugula loosely packed
- maple syrup to serve (optional)
- Preheat a griddle (if using) or skillet over medium heat.
- Combine flour, salt, and sugar in a large bowl. Add the eggs, milk, and melted butter and mix thoroughly until well combined.
- Stir in baking powder, taking care to get it thoroughly mixed into the batter. Let the batter stand for 5 minutes.
- Add the chopped prosciutto and apple to the basic batter, stirring until just combined.
- Pour the batter onto the preheated griddle/pan (see note below about adding butter); I like to use about 1/2 cup of batter per pancake, but you can go bigger or smaller depending on your personal preferences. Cook until the bottom is browned, the edges are looking solid, and bubbles are coming up through the center of the pancake. Flip over and cook for an additional 2 minutes or so, then set aside to cool.
- Serve with extra prosciutto and apple and a handful of arugula, then top off with a little maple syrup.