Chickpea flour is like gold dust to me. As soon as I began eating gluten-free, chickpea flour and I developed a fast and bonding friendship. There are many flours that are gluten-free and I use many of them but I always make sure I have a bag or two of chickpea flour handy. It is my go-to flour, my “all-purpose flour,” if you will. Chickpea flour is high in protein and has a dull yellow color that it lends to foods. Not only is chickpea flour gluten-free but it’s also grain-free and nut-free so it can be a great choice for many different needs. If you have never tried chickpea flour before, this holiday season is a wonderful time to dive in and try it in your recipes. From breakfast to dessert, chickpea flour is a smart, healthy choice. After trying any of the recipes or tips here, I will bet you will love chickpea flour so much, you’ll add it to your holiday wish list.
In the past, I wasn’t a consistent breakfast eater but when I did eat breakfast, I always wanted the same thing. I would order an omelet filled with mozzarella cheese and on the side I had a serving of sausage and home fries. Once I became vegan, that meal was no longer on the menu, but I had to find a way to have my favorite breakfast in a cruelty-free way. I learned how to make vegan omelets using chickpeas and now I have my favorite breakfast back again. I make chickpea omelets all the time and fill them with different veggies and vegan cheeses. It’s even become a favorite brunch and dinner choice.
To make my Chickpea Omelets with Lacinato Kale, Mushrooms and Vegan Mozzarella: start by making the batter. In a large bowl, combine 1 cup chickpea flour, 1 ½ cups cold water, 1 tsp. black salt, ½ tsp. garlic powder, ½ tsp. dried thyme, ½ tsp. turmeric and ¼ tsp. ground nutmeg. Whisk until smooth. Let sit for about 20 minutes while you make the filling. Heat 1 Tbs. olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 onion sliced into half-moons to the skillet and cook until it becomes softened and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add 1 large bunch chopped Lacinato kale in bunches, adding more as it wilts down. Add 2 minced cloves of garlic and toss to combine everything. Season the batter with a pinch of nutmeg and salt and pepper to taste. Remove from the heat and set aside. To make the omelets: heat a 9-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Spray the skillet with cooking spray. When the pan is hot, add 1/3 cup of the batter to the center of the skillet. Using your wrist, turn the skillet to spread the batter until it covers the whole skillet. If you need more batter, add a bit more but you want an even layer of batter in the pan. Cover the pan with a lid and let the batter cook for about 3 minutes. Then remove the lid, spray a bit of cooking spray around the perimeter of the batter and cook another 3 minutes until the sides will lift off the skillet with a thin spatula. When you can lift the sides without the omelet sticking, flip the omelet in the pan. Add a few spoons of filling to one half of the omelet. Add some vegan mozzarella on top of the kale and onions. Carefully lift and fold the other half of the omelet onto the half with the vegetables. Press it down gently to melt the cheese. Putting the lid back on may help the cheese melt faster. Cook for another minute or two and carefully slide the omelet onto a plate. On the side, serve some Gluten-Free Breakfast Sausages that can also be made with chickpea flour. For another chickpea omelet recipe, try this Chickpea Flour Omelette With Spinach, Onion and Bell Peppers. Another popular breakfast/brunch dish is quiche. Make this eggless version with chickpea flour: Spinach, Tomato, and Cheddar Mini-Quiches with Lemon Cashew Cream.
2. Crepes and Pancakes
With family and friends staying over and sleeping late, brunch may be a more desirable option than breakfast. A favorite brunch item is crepes, probably because you can make them sweet or savory and then fill them with whatever your heart desires. Sweet crepes can be filled with fresh fruit, berries and topped with sweet syrups, chocolate drizzles or whipped cream. Savory crepes (my preference) can be filled with vegetables, cheese and anything you can imagine. To make Savory Crepes: in a small bowl, mix 1 Tbs. ground flax seed and 3 Tbs. warm water until it is a loose paste. Let it sit and thicken for 10 minutes. This acts as a binder. In a bowl, mix 1 ½ cups non-dairy milk, 1 Tbs. melted vegan butter and the flax/water mixture. Add 1 ¼ cups chickpea flour, ½ tsp. baking powder, ½ tsp. garlic powder, ½ tsp. kosher salt, and ¼ tsp. black pepper to the bowl and mix into a batter. Refrigerate for up to an hour and use that time to make your filling. When you are ready to make the crepes, remove the batter from the fridge. If it’s too thick, you may need to add a bit of water. Heat a non-stick 8” skillet. Spray with cooking spray and pour about ¼ cup of the batter in the center of the skillet and swirl it around until it covers the pan. Cook until the edges brown and you can flip the crepe. Cook on the other side for just a minute. Keep crepes on a warmed plate or in the oven (200 degrees) until ready to eat. Fill with your desired filling. To make Sweet Crepes, simply add 1-2 Tbs. sugar to the batter instead of the garlic, salt and pepper.
Other pancakes using chickpea flour include these Savory Chickpea Flour Pancakes with Tamarind Syrup and Tomato, Chive and Chickpea Pancakes.
3. French Toast Batter
Everyone loves French toast whether it’s for breakfast, brunch or dinner. I use chickpea flour to make the batter for my Challah French Toast. It not only makes a thick coating but it has an “eggy” color and flavor. You could add sugar to it if you want to but I like it without any added sugar. In a shallow bowl, combine 1 cup chickpea flour, 2 Tbs. nutritional yeast, ½ tsp. black salt, ½ tsp. ground cinnamon, ½ tsp. turmeric and 1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg. Mix well. Whisk in 2 cups non-dairy milk and 1 tsp. vanilla. The batter should be relatively thin, similar to pancake batter. Soak 8 vegan challah slices in the batter for a few minutes on each side. You want the challah to soak up some batter. Heat a tablespoon of vegan butter in a skillet or on a griddle pan over medium heat. Shake the excess batter off the challah slices and lay them on the griddle pan to cook. You don’t want the heat too high because you need to let the inside of the toast cook while the outside is browning. Cook for about 5 minutes until golden brown, then flip and cook the other side of the challah. Add more butter to the griddle as needed between batches. Serve with maple syrup, more vegan butter, fresh fruit or any of your favorite toppings. Try using chickpea flour batter with any of these 5 Incredible Vegan French Toast Recipes.
One of my favorite Italian dishes was chicken Francaise. Basically, it is fried chicken cutlets dipped in an egg batter and cooked in a white wine lemon sauce. I recreated this favorite of mine in a healthier, more compassionate way using tofu and batter made from chickpea flour. To make my Tofu Francaise: cut a block of extra-firm tofu that has been pressed and drained into 8 slices. On a shallow plate, mix 1/3 cup arrowroot powder, 1 tsp. garlic powder, 1 tsp. dried parsley, ½ tsp. kosher salt, and ¼ tsp. black pepper. In a bowl, mix ¾ cup non-dairy milk, ½ to ¾ cup chickpea flour, 2 Tbs. ground flaxseed, 1 Tbs. nutritional yeast or vegan grated parmesan, 1 tsp. garlic powder, 1 tsp. dried parsley, ½ tsp. kosher salt and ¼ tsp. black pepper. Mix until you have a thick batter. In a large deep skillet, heat 2 Tbs. oil over medium heat. Dredge the tofu in the arrowroot, shake off the excess and then coat in the batter. Pan-fry the tofu until both sides are browned and crisp, about 4 minutes per side. You may have to do this in batches depending on the size of your skillet. Transfer the tofu to a platter and keep warm in the oven. In the same skillet, add ½ cup white wine (do this with the pan off the heat) and let cook until most of the wine has evaporated, about 3 minutes. Add 1 ½ to 2 cups broth and cook until it reduces to half. Mix 2 Tbs. vegan butter into the sauce. Add zest and juice of one lemon, ¼ cup fresh chopped parsley and 2 Tbs. capers. Stir and remove from the heat. Add salt and pepper to taste. Spoon the sauce over the tofu cutlets. Serve with lemon slices for garnish. This batter is good to use anytime you want to coat something in an egg-like batter.
5. Crispy Coatings
Whenever I need a crispy coating on any food, I turn to chickpea flour. Season chickpea flour with herbs and spices such as garlic powder, salt and black pepper and then lightly coat tofu, tempeh, seitan or whatever you are cooking with the seasoned flour. It will give you a crispy coating whether you are pan-frying, deep-frying or baking. Use chickpea flour to make Tempeh “Fish” and Chips, “Chicken-Fried” Tofu Steaks, Tofu with Apple and Onion Relish, Healthy Baked Vegan Pakora and Seitan Steaks in Beurre Blanc Sauce. For instance, when I make my Buttermilk Fried Tofu, I toss pieces of tofu in vegan buttermilk (1 cup non-dairy milk + 1 Tbs. vinegar) mixed with hot sauce and then coat the pieces with chickpea flour seasoned with onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, dried oregano and kosher salt. Then I pan-fry it until crispy and golden brown. Yum!
6. Sauces and Gravies
Many sauces begin with a roux which is a combination of flour cooked in fat, usually oil or vegan butter. Whenever I need to make a roux, I use chickpea flour for a gluten-free, grain-free and soy-free sauce. A thick roux can be the starting point for gravy, béchamel sauce, cheese sauce or to thicken a stew or gratin. Check out these recipes for White Gravy, Mushroom Gravy, Queso Cheese Sauce, and Alfredo Sauce. Learn more about using a roux in How to Make the Most Decadent Mac and Cheese.
My Cheesy Cauliflower Gratin uses chickpea flour to make the thick, delicious cheese sauce. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Core a head of cauliflower (about 3 lbs.) and cut the head into large florets. Blanche the cauliflower in a pot of boiling water for just a few minutes. You want to be tender but still have crunch. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking. In a medium-size saucepan, melt 2 Tbs. vegan butter over medium heat and whisk in 2 Tbs. chickpea flour until well combined. Let it cook for a minute so you won’t taste the flour. Slowly add 2 cups warm non-dairy milk, whisking, until you have a smooth sauce. This is your béchamel sauce. Add ½ tsp. kosher salt, ¼ tsp. black pepper and a pinch of nutmeg. Add ½ cup vegan cheddar cheese and whisk until smooth. Turn off the heat and set aside. Put a few ladles of the béchamel sauce in the bottom of an 8 x 8 baking dish. Add the cauliflower to the baking dish and cover with the remaining cheese sauce. In a small dish, combine 1/3 cup gluten-free bread crumbs, 2 Tbs. vegan grated parmesan and 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil. Mix and sprinkle over the cauliflower. Bake for 30 minutes or until the top begins to brown. Turn the oven on broiler for 2 minutes to really crisp up the top. Let sit for a few minutes to set before serving.
7. Snacks and Sweets
Chickpea flour can also be used to make delicious snacks like chickpea fries which are incredibly fast and easy to make. They can be pan-fried or baked. My Chickpea Fries are large, crispy, spicy and addictive. I serve them with a creamy dipping sauce. In India, chickpeas are a favorite ingredient. The chickpeas themselves are known as chana, and the chickpea flour is called Besan or Gram. Besan can be used to make Indian flatbreads like this Herb Roti and this Indian-Style Soft Steamed Chickpea Flour Cake called Khaman Dhokla.
Parathas are a stuffed flatbread that can be made with chickpea flour. Like roti, parathas are made on the stovetop. I like to make parathas that are stuffed with kale but you can stuff them with whatever you choose. To make Kale Parathas: in a bowl, combine 2 cups chickpea flour, ½ tsp. kosher salt and ½ tsp. garam masala. Add up to 1 cup of water until you have a stiff dough. Knead the dough into a smooth ball, cover it and let it sit while you prepare the filling. Saute a diced onion in oil and add 2 cloves of minced garlic and a bunch of stemmed and chopped kale. Season with ½ tsp. each garam masala, ground cumin and ground coriander and ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper. Cook until the kale has wilted. Divide the dough into 6-8 pieces about the size of golf balls. Roll each ball into a flat disc and roll into a flat patty that is as thin as a tortilla. Put ¼ cup of the kale filling into the middle of each disc and fold the edges of the dough over the mixture to form balls again with the kale on the inside. Gently roll out the dough again, being careful not to break the parathas. Heat a little oil in a non-stick pan and fry each parathas for 2-3 minutes or until golden and browned in places. Serve with raita, an Indian dipping sauce. This recipe for Mint Parathas combines mint and caraway seeds for a refreshing taste.
Chickpea flour is versatile, healthy and delicious. You can use almost anywhere you use regular white flour. If you are planning to use chickpea flour as a substitute for a gluten flour in baking, be sure to check out The Ultimate Gluten-Free Baking Substitution Guide for tips. How do you like to use chickpea flour? Tell us your ideas in the comments.
Lead Image Source: Chickpea Fries