While regular American eaters might only be familiar with chickpeas being used in hummus, us vegans have been fawning over chickpea flour for a while now. I’ve experimented with it most in the form of omelets from other cookbooks in my collection… but omelets are usually as far as these books go. I’d rarely seen recipes using chickpea flour in any other ways. So what else could it do, I wondered. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but this book totally blew even those non-expectations out of the water. Chickpea flour really does do it all. Yes, it makes omelets, but would you have thought it could make pasta, waffles, and pizza crust? That it can help thicken soups and sauces, and give some nutrition to brownies, cakes, cookies, and more?
What first struck me with this book is that these are classy recipes. If when I said pizza, you were picturing a Tofurky pepperoni pizza on a chickpea crust, you would be mistaken. (That’s not classy, that’s just good.) Classy is a Chickpea Pizza with Asparagus and Pea Tangle, or Flatbread with Harissa, Kale, and Gaeta Olives. (WTF are Gaeta olives, anyway? I couldn’t tell you… I just used Kalamata.) If you’re familiar with My New Roots (which I’ve blogged about before), these two books have a decidedly similar feel. Which is to say: gourmet, earthy recipes, with a farmhouse flair.
Since this is a vegan blog, I should mention outright that this is not a vegan book. It’s vegetarian and dairy-free, but there are eggs (lots of eggs). While I think the use of eggs in these recipes is unnecessary, I saw a review on Amazon that angrily proclaimed this book useless for vegans, and I completely disagree. It’s disappointing that the author doesn’t offer any substitutions, but eggs are mostly used as binding or leavening agents (rarely as the star of the show), and can easily be replaced with something as simple as flax seed. There may be one or two recipes in here that would not be easily veganized, such as a quiche with six eggs (though it is possible if you are savvy enough). So if you’re vegan like me, don’t let those eggs scare you off of this book completely. With a little know-how and wherewithal, 99% of this book can still be used (quite easily, no less) by vegans.
Chapters are laid out by seasons and months, which I really enjoy in cookbooks. I’ve mentioned before how books that are organized like this have a way of continuing to feel fresh all year long, rather than burning yourself out all at once. The first thing I made, the Grilled Harissa Cauliflower with Quinoa Toss is an April recipe that I made in March (so sue me). It uses a chickpea flour batter on the cauliflower, which you then grill (as opposed to more traditionally frying), and serve with a Mediterranean quinoa salad (full of olives, currants, and mint). It was phenomenal. But okay, so chickpea flour wasn’t a major star in that show, just a part of the batter. Let’s see what else it can do…
I’d never made homemade pasta before, but the recipe for Chickpea Noodles with Miso-Kale Pesto looked pretty simple. Is homemade pasta really that easy? Yes. Yes, it is. The pasta dough came together in a flash, and aside from letting it rest for 30 minutes, it was merely minutes before it morphed into noodle form and cooked into pasta perfection. And it was almost entirely made of chickpea flour. So chickpea flour got some game, after all.
I’m pretty sure I rave about savory breakfast recipes in every review I write, but they are the way to my heart. From breakfast salad to savory waffles, Cupid’s arrows are striking me hard with this one. One of the first things I made was the Collard Wraps with Turmeric Scramble. But while I love me a savory breakfast recipe, I’m also a rule breaker… so I made these for a light dinner. All I need to see is the word “collard” and I’m sold. Add an eggless eggy scramble with avocado and cilantro, and I’m in heaven.
The Breakfast Sweet Potato Cakes and Baby Arugula required some thinking ahead (which I rarely do), but was worth any extra effort. I made the potato cake mixture the night before (it’s supposed to rest in the fridge for several hours, though I honestly think it doesn’t matter), so that come morning, I only had to wait as long as it took to roll them into little balls, pan fry them, and toss together some arugula and dressing. My thoughts on this recipe can be summed up with these words: Salad for breakfast, WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN ALL MY LIFE?
Even more savory breakfast came in the form of Chickpea Waffle Avocado Toast. It’s the stuff weekend dreams are made of. Topped with hemp seeds, lemon juice, and chives, it definitely qualifies as #stuffontoast.
And another fave was the Alfredo with Watercress and Chives. The sauce is outstanding, and now that I’ve got watercress growing in my garden, this is a meal I can make anytime I need something fast, easy, and delicious (since I have a Vitamix, I don’t soak cashews anymore, and this sauce comes together in a flash)! Best of all, now you can make it too, because here’s the recipe! Huzzah!
ALFREDO WITH WATERCRESS AND CHIVES
- 16 ounces (454 g) gluten-free and vegan pasta (or pasta of choice)
- ¼ cup (40 g) plus 1 tablespoon cashews, soaked overnight and drained
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 ½ teaspoons nutritional yeast
- 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
- 1 ½ teaspoons lemon juice
- 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
- ½ teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
- Freshly ground pepper
- 1 cup (240 ml) water
- ¼ cup (30 g) chickpea flour
- 2 tablespoons chopped chives, plus chive flowers for garnish
- 1 cup (34 g) packed watercress
- Freshly ground nutmeg, to taste
1. Begin cooking the pasta, according to instructions on the bag. While the pasta is cooking, make the sauce.
2. Place the soaked cashews in an upright high-speed blender; add the oil, yeast, vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper to taste; set aside.
3. In a small saucepan, whisk together the water and flour, turn the heat to medium and continue to whisk for 6 to 7 minutes, until the mixture thickens to the consistency of a roux. Gently and carefully pour the mixture into the blender. Blend on high for 1 minute, until creamy and smooth. Taste and adjust any seasonings, if needed. Add 1 tablespoon of chives and blend on medium for about 30 seconds.
4. In the last 30 seconds of cooking the pasta to al dente, add the watercress and cook until wilted. Drain the pasta and watercress and quickly rinse with cold water to stop them from cooking.
5. Transfer the pasta and watercress to a serving bowl; pour the sauce over the pasta and mix. Taste and adjust salt, if needed. Serve hot with remaining 1 tablespoon of chives, chive flowers, and nutmeg.
Recipe from Chickpea Flour Does It All: Glluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Vegetarian Recipes for Every Taste and Season ©Lindsey S. Love, 2016. Reprinted by permission of the publisher, The Experiment. Available wherever books are sold. theexperimentpublishing.com
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary review copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts are my own, and despite the eggs, I still really, REALLY enjoyed this one.