Chickpea “Fries”

by Chance on January 4, 2016

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So, you may have noticed that I believe in the liberal use of quotes. I’ve noticed that pops up a lot on this blog. I think it’s because between food sensitivities and allergies and people wanting to be healthier, there are a lot of things to substitute and swap out. I came across chickpea fries on a menu about a year ago. If you live in a family with food sensitivities and/or allergies, you do one of two things. Either you never eat out or you religiously read restaurant menus. I like to read cookbooks and I like to read restaurant menus also. You never know what you’ll find! I am also a huge fan of naturally gluten free recipes and nutritionally dense food. Anyway, I don’t remember what restaurant it was, but it piqued my interest. So then I did what anyone in 2015 would do: I googled it. It turns out that chickpea fries are enjoyed in many locales around the world. Call them panisse, panelle, or chickpea fries. It’s similar to polenta in the sense that you cook chickpea flour (instead of ground corn) with hot water and salt and when it cools, it sets up into a firm custard texture. When you slice that cooled mixture and pan fry it, you get a delicious crunchy outside and a smooth velvety inside. I love a good French fry, so I’m not going to compare them to French fries. There is nothing like a perfect french fry. However, for eating regularly, they beat fried potatoes hands down because they are made from more nutrient rich chickpeas. They are crunchy and soft, filling yet light and in my house, they make a great main dish or side with other veggies.

Now, I want to come clean with this recipe. This is the recipe that made me realize that I was hung up on perfectionism and that was why I didn’t post more often. The first time I made these, the mixture didn’t set up “correctly” even though I felt I had followed the directions carefully. I usually do that the first time, if I can make myself, but after that, all bets are off! Of course I fried them and we ate them anyway but they reminded me more of chicken nuggets because they refused to slice. Little patties solved that problem. The second time I made them, they set up like I had expected them to. However, when I fried them, they kind of hollowed out. That was delicious, but couldn’t have been more different that people’s descriptions online. I mean, it was a hollow fry. We liked those better, but of course I had to try again. The third time I made them, I became obsessed with beating out all the lumps. There were recipes that said to carefully add the flour and quickly mix to get all the lumps out. As if it was important to the outcome. LIARS. I’m telling you that I got all my crazy out on these chickpea fries so that you don’t have to. There was a blender involved. The fourth time I made them, I was determined to make it lump free, so I did it all in a food processor. It was beautiful. UNTIL I COOKED IT. Folks, I’m just telling you that it absolutely doesn’t matter whether your batter is lumpy. They taste great. It not only does not affect the taste, but once they’re fried, you can’t tell the batter used to be lumpy. So, allow my waste of kitchen time to save you from wasting your kitchen time. Follow the directions and you too will have delicious crunchy fries. Oh yeah, one more thing: it makes no difference if you whisk the flour either. Don’t do it.
If you are worried about the fact that these are fried, let me share some more of my crazy. I’ve tested this in my kitchen so I feel comfortable sharing it. If you fry foods at the correct temperature (which is when the oil is shimmery, but not smoking), the food will absorb minimal oil. Drain them on paper towels (the only thing I use paper towels for) and you have a properly fried whatever you’re frying. Unless it’s eggplant in which case disregard what I just said.
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See that up there? That’s how bad it can look and still taste good.

Heat 4 cups of water to boiling in a kettle or pot.
Add 1 teaspoon+ of salt.
Off the heat, whisk in 3 Cups of chickpea flour (this is labeled chickpea flour, besan flour, gram flour or garbanzo flour depending on where you shop). Whisk thoroughly to mix well, but don’t make yourself crazy.
Put the mixture back on med-low heat and stir it around until it’s well thickened, about 5 minutes.
Pour the mixture into an oiled pan and refrigerate at least 1 hour. I’ve kept the mixture for up to a week in the fridge.
When you’re ready to cook heat a heavy bottomed fry pan over med-high heat. Add the oil of your choice (I sometimes use coconut, sometimes sunflower). Heat until the oil is shimmery, but before it smokes.
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Slice the mixture into fry shapes. If that doesn’t work, slice them into cubes. If that doesn’t work either, scoop a teaspoon out. Once your pan is heated, add your fries to the pan. Cook on one side until they are golden, 5-7 minutes.
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Resist the urge to touch them, turn them or move them. That will give you the best crust. Once they are golden on one side, flip them over and cook until golden on the opposite side. Remove to paper towels to drain. Add salt or spices to the top. Enjoy!
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See that? That’s what it looks like when you get distracted. Guess what? Still delicious.

Chickpea "Fries"
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Crispy, light chickpea fries
Author:
Recipe type: Main dish or side
Serves: 40+ pieces
Ingredients
  • 4 Cups boiling water
  • 1+ teaspoon salt
  • optional herbs of your choosing
  • 3 Cups chickpea flour
  • Oil for frying
Instructions
  1. Add the salt to the water.
  2. Whisk the chickpea flour into the boiling water off of the heat.
  3. Cook over medium low heat about 5 minutes or until the mixture is very thick.
  4. Pour into an oiled dish. The depth of your dish will determine how you cut the fries. A thinner dish will be less cutting, a thicker dish you might have to cut them in half.
  5. Heat oil in a heavy bottomed pan until the oil is shimmering but not smoking.
  6. Add fries and fry 5-7 minutes or until golden on the bottom.
  7. Flip the fries and cook until the other side is golden.
  8. Remove to paper towels.
  9. Sprinkle with salt or spices.

 

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Beans & Greens Step Two: Make the Greens

by Chance on December 16, 2015

Beans and Greens with Mizithra Cheese Beans and Greens with Mizithra Cheese

Cheating a little here by using the same picture, but I think you’ll understand. All of us know we should eat greens. They’re good for us and if prepared well, very tasty. I’ve been a big spinach eater for years: spinach salad, sautéed spinach, spinach smoothies, spanakopita… I haven’t met much spinach I haven’t liked. Then came kale. Sautéed kale, kale chips, marinated kale salad, kale smoothies (not really, but some people do). I don’t even care that kale is now considered passé. I still love it. In fact, the easiest way to get my family to eat some green is by making kale chips. Three bunches of kale in one gulp. I also love collard greens, or collards as we usually abbreviate here in Georgia. I always make them for New Year’s Day and often make them as a sautéed side, as I will here. Collards can also be used to make sushi (using blanched leaves instead of nori) or for dolmades (in place of the grape leaves). For many years I slow simmered them with onions or made a collard green soup. My mom came up with a recipe for garlicky collards with tamari and that was delicious too (Can you tell cooking is something we have in common?), but this is the simplest way to prepare them and the one I now enjoy the most. Contrary to what our Southern tradition would have us believe, collards, especially young organic ones, do not require a long slow cooking to a dark green color and a smooshy texture. This cooking method is a sauté with a tiny bit of liquid. It results in well cooked collards that are bright green instead of army green and still have a fresh flavor.

For best results, I do buy organic collards and I get the smallest ones they have because they are the youngest. If I buy conventional collards, I still look for the smallest ones because they will be the most tender. I used to “stem” my collards by cutting out the rib or thick middle part, but if I have small-ish ones, I don’t bother to do this. The ribs cook well this way and it adds a little texture to the greens.
First put a wide saucepan on the stove with a few Tablespoons of oil in it. If you can have butter, it gives great flavor. If not, I use a light oil for this (not coconut oil). Peel 1-2 onions and then chop them. It can be a coarse chop because the onions will cook down. I cut my onion from sprout to root and then cut slivers. Put the pan over medium high heat and start to cook the onion while you cut up the collards.
IMG_0709 Wash your greens well. They are grown in sandy soil and one grain of sand will ruin the greens for whoever gets it. Don’t dry the greens, just set them to the side on a dishtowel. once they are all cleaned, stack them up neatly. Starting from one long side, roll them all together tightly. Using a large knife, start cutting the collards starting at the tips and holding onto the stems. In the picture below, the slices were a little larger than I wanted. It should be closer to a chiffonade (very thin slices) but not quite all the way.
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I made it a little smaller and this looks better.
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You will have some jagged edges left on your stems. Pull the green off that is left and chop it up. Or, feed it to your chickens. They deserve greens too!
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Once all the greens are chopped, add them to the pan on top of the onions. I do not stir them at this point, but rather leave the greens to start cooking while the onion is still on direct heat. After 3-4-5 minutes, I stir it all together and add salt to taste. Don’t be afraid to salt the greens because greens need salt to not taste bland. This is what it looks like after it’s cooked for a few minutes. The greens are wilting.
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When things go perfectly, there is just the right amount of moisture on the greens that I don’t need to add anything. The other 364 days a year, I may add a splash of water to keep them from sticking. As they cook, taste the greens and take them off the heat when they are the right texture for you. An extra Tablespoon of butter added at the end is delicious (But I don’t ever add vegetable oil at the end. No flavor.). When the greens are finished, they will have shrunk dramatically, which I have emphasized for you in this last picture by pulling them all to the side. That’s two bunches of collards!
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These are great as a veggie side with anything or part of a vegetable plate. When I served them with chickpeas this week, I grated a little mizithra (Greek sheep’s milk) cheese on top and it was delicious!
Note: You can use other greens in this recipe. Collards are probably my favorite, but my daughter’s favorite is chard and I also like… kale.

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Beans & Greens Step Two: Make the Greens
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Veggie Side
Ingredients
  • 1-2 onions (I like shallots with chard)
  • 2-3 bunches of fresh greens (collards, kale, chard)
  • 2-3 Tablespoons of butter or light vegetable oil
  • salt to taste
Instructions
  1. Put butter or oil in pan over medium-high heat.
  2. Slice the onion into crescents and add to the pan.
  3. Prepare greens by washing well.
  4. Roll up and chop into small strips - not quite a chiffonade but not a rough chop.
  5. Once all the greens are cut, add them to the pan.
  6. Let them cook for 3-4-5 minutes without stirring.
  7. Sprinkle with salt.
  8. After 5 minutes, stir the onions and greens together.
  9. If the greens seem to be sticking, add a little water.
  10. Continue to cook until they are done to your liking.
  11. Check for salt.

 

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Beans & Greens: Step One, Cook the Beans!

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Simplest Summer Sorbet

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