Every Sunday I would go to my neighborhood diner for breakfast. I would always order the same thing – a mozzarella omelet with a side of bacon and home fries cooked extra crispy. When I became vegan, I thought I would never eat my favorite breakfast again. I was only sort of right – I would never eat that breakfast made with animal products again. However, I can have my favorite breakfast whenever I want because I now know how to make it in a vegan version. I can still remember when I was told I could have vegan omelets made with tofu. Skeptical, I went to a vegan restaurant and had one and it tasted very close to eggs. I set out to learn how to make them and then discovered that I very much prefer to use chickpea flour for all my “eggy” dishes. Now I make chickpea omelets and not just for breakfast. Having breakfast for dinner is the ultimate comfort food.
Here’s how to make chickpea omelets for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
1. Why Chickpea Flour?
Chickpea flour is magical to me. Not only is it gluten-free, nut-free, soy-free and high in protein but it’s so versatile, I barely use any other flour. Chickpea flour is my go-to flour to thicken sauces and gravies, for dredging and battering, making crepes and even as a substitute for cornstarch. I also use chickpea flour when I need to replace eggs for French toast batter, quiches and omelets. While tofu omelets are delicious, chickpea flour is a soy-free option that has an “eggy” color and taste. To see more of what I do with chickpea flour, check out 7 Ways to Use Chickpea Flour in Holiday Meals: From Breakfast to Dessert.
2. Batter Up
Making the batter for chickpea omelets is ridiculously easy. Though you don’t have to add it, I sometimes like to add a “flax egg” for extra body. To do this, just mix 3 Tbs. ground flaxseed with ½ cup warm water and let it thicken into a gel for about 10 minutes. In a large bowl, combine 1 cup of chickpea flour, 1 tsp. baking powder, 1 tsp. black salt, ½ tsp. garlic powder, ½ tsp. ground turmeric, ½ tsp. dried thyme or oregano and ½ tsp. black pepper. The baking powder adds fullness and stability while the black salt gives the batter a very “eggy” smell and flavor. The turmeric contributes the yellow color and a bunch of nutrients. Even though the filling will have herbs and spices, I like to add some to the batter so there are herbs and spices in the omelet itself. Mix to combine all the dry ingredients.
To make the batter, you can use water or non-dairy milk. Milk will make the omelets thicker and fluffier as well as add flavor. If you are making savory omelets, be sure to use unsweetened, plain-flavored milk. Add the flax gel to the flour and then add the water or milk, about ½ cup at a time. Whisk until smooth. You want the batter to be loose and pourable but not water-thin. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and put the batter in the fridge to rest for 20 minutes or so while you make the filling.
3. Patience is a Virtue
The most important tool you need to have to make vegan omelets, whether they are made of chickpea flour or tofu, is patience. That’s always the hardest part for me because I have am a very impatient cook. I have since come up with some tricks to help me out with this problem which I’ll share with you in a moment.
If you are making more than one omelet, preheat the oven to 200 degrees because you need a place to put the omelets while you continue to make more. Use an 8- or 9-inch skillet, non-stick if you have one. It can be tempting to use a bigger skillet but it’s easier to flip the omelets without breaking them if they are smaller. Heat the skillet over medium heat and then spray the skillet with cooking oil. Use the oil sparingly as too much will lead to greasy omelets and/or scorch them. 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 bottom of the pan. If you need more batter, add a bit more but you want an even layer of batter in the pan.
Cover the skillet with a lid and let the batter cook for about 5 minutes. This will allow the batter to steam and solidify. This is when your patience is necessary. It may feel like you have to wait…and wait…and wait for it to set. Five minutes can feel like a long time. Don’t raise the heat because it will lead to undercooked omelets which will break. These have to cook on medium. Don’t touch them. I’m always so tempted to see if I can flip it that I end up breaking it. My best tricks to avoid sabotaging my efforts include stepping away, doing something else like making a salad or checking my Instagram account. After 4 minutes or so, I remove the cover and spray a bit of cooking oil around the edges of the omelet. Let the omelet cook another 3-5 minutes and you will see it start to crisp at the edges meaning it’s ready to be flipped. If you are still unsure, just grasp the handle of the pan and move it back and forth – the omelet should slide freely.
4. Flip, Fill and Fold
Once the edges of the omelet lift up, it can be flipped. You can go all Julia Child and just flip that sucker in the air or you can be a bit more cautious and use a spatula. Use a wide, thin spatula and carefully move it under the omelet and flip it. Let the omelet cook on this side for a few minutes. While it’s cooking, add a few tablespoons of filling to one-half of the omelet. Add your vegan cheese, if using. Carefully lift and fold the other half of the omelet onto the half with the filling. Press it down gently to melt the cheese. Cook for another minute or two. You can replace the lid if the cheese needs help melting. Then carefully slide the omelet onto a plate and put in the oven until ready to serve.
If the idea of flipping the omelet is flipping you out, there is a way to avoid it. Cook the omelet as described above and when it is ready to be flipped, cook it a little longer on lower heat to dry the top part a bit. Add your fillings to the top of the omelet and fold it over. Cover the pan and let the whole omelet cook a few more minutes. This way, the inside of the omelet won’t be as well done but you won’t have to flip out. Another variation on this technique for making chickpea omelets is to mix the cooked veggies into the chickpea batter and then cook it all together in the skillet rather than the add-and-fold method. See How to Make a Vegan Omelet for detailed instructions on how to do it this way (and a recipe).
When it comes to fillings, the sky’s the limit. They can be as simple as my old favorite, the mozzarella omelet, by using vegan mozzarella cheese or you can use any veggies, greens, or other ingredients you like. You can use raw veggies and just let them steam a bit in the omelet or saute them first which is my preference. Cooking the veggies first ensures they will be tender and not add excess moisture to the omelet. Depending on which meal you are making them for, your omelets can be light for a weekday breakfast, served with a salad for lunch or make them hearty for dinner and weekend brunches.
You can make all the classic diner-type omelets like Western or Denver omelets with vegan ham, green bell pepper and onion or Denver omelets with chopped onion, bell pepper or an Italian omelet with vegan Italian sausage, bell peppers and vegan mozzarella. One of my favorite combinations is any kind of greens (kale, collards, spinach), mushrooms and vegan cheese. Try my Chickpea Omelets with Mushrooms, Greens and Vegan Swiss. Or try these Chickpea Flour Omelets with Spinach, Onion and Bell Peppers. Similar to omelets, these Chickpea Blinis With Grilled Vegetables and Lemon Cream have spring veggies of asparagus and carrots. This Thyme Socca With Bluefoot Mushrooms is like an unfolded omelet. Right now I’m thinking about making Mexican omelets with vegan chorizo, jalapenos and vegan pepper jack cheese. Yum!
Man (and woman) cannot live by omelet alone. Serve your chickpea omelets with delicious side dishes. If you are having your omelet for a light breakfast or lunch, serve it alongside a refreshing salad like this Rainbow Salad, Easy Avocado Salad or this Raw Massaged Kale Salad with Fresh Figs and Oranges.
On the other hand, if you are making these for dinner, weekend brunches or you’re just really hungry, pull out all the stops. Serve a side of Vegan and Gluten-Free Breakfast Sausage or some crispy vegan bacon. See 5 Plant-Based Replacements for Bacon. Don’t forget the taters! Make these Ketchup-Baked Home Fries or these Curried Hashbrowns.
It may sound like a lot of work to make omelets but it’s totally worth it. You get a pretty and delicious omelet that tastes pretty close to the egg version but with none of the down sides of using eggs. Chickpea omelets are light, fluffy and delicious. Try one today!
Lead Image Source: Chickpea Omelets With Mushrooms, Greens and Vegan Swiss