One of the best things about experimenting in the kitchen is that, just when you think you know all there is to know, a new ingredient makes itself known. And then *poof* you’re off on a brand new journey, making dishes that you never imagined.
It’s like the more I learn, the more I realize how much more there is to learn. Even after all these years in the kitchen. Such is my story with chickpea flour.
Chickpea flour, flour made from ground chickpeas (also known as garbanzo beans), came to my attention a couple of years ago, when I bought a gluten free flour mix for the first time. I had relatively good success with it in heavier baked goods, like brownies and cookies. Since then I’ve experimented with several gluten free substitutes: My own blend of flours, ground (gluten free) oats, coconut flour and, my favorite, blanched almond flour.
More recently, I’ve been thinking about ways to expand my baking repertoire while staying grain free and nut free. Now that’s a challenge. It’s early days yet, but chickpea flour is showing a lot of promise.
I love that, at 6g of protein and 3g of fiber in just one ounce, it’s more nutritious than other gluten free alternatives like tapioca or rice flour. And while these crepes are my first experiment with chickpea flour, I was very pleasantly surprised with its neutral flavor. It has a certain nuttiness, but it’s subtle. My guess is you could serve these up and no one would know they weren’t made of regular all purpose wheat flour.
Did it have something to do with straining the batter? Perhaps.
I’m not entirely clear, yet, on the difference between chickpea flour and besan or chana. Many references, like this one, said they’re interchangeable, as in chickpea flour = besan = chana flour = gram flour = garbanzo bean flour. At Famous Foods the chickpea flour was a lighter color and was slightly more expensive than chana flour. Hmmmm….
When I find out more, I’ll update this post. In the meantime, if you can tell me the difference, I’d love for you to post a comment.
If you haven’t tried working with chickpea flour yourself, these are a great way to start. They were amazingly simple and fast to put together, and I was surprised at how forgiving they were to cook. A touch of olive oil before each one and they slid out of the pan without leaving any crusty bits stuck to my pan.
With a simple filling, like the sauteed mushroom, spinach and Gruyere cheese I did here, these crepes make a lovely light spring meal. And grain free too!
So chickpea flour, what was that line out of Casablanca? Ah yes, the start of a beautiful friendship. It could be.
A delightful, grain free crepe for a light, nutritious dinner. They have a very mild flavor that lends itself to almost any filling, like the sauteed mushrooms, spinach and Gruyere cheese you see here. I adapted the crepes from a recipe by Martha Rose Shulman in the New York Times.
- 3/4 cup chickpea flour
- 1/4 rounded teaspoon salt
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon fresh chopped herbs (like thyme or oregano), optional
- olive oil for the pan
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1/2 cup onions, finely chopped
- 12 oz mushrooms, coarsely chopped
- 5 oz spinach leaves, washed and rinsed
- kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
- 4 oz Gruyere cheese, shredded
- Combine all ingredients (except the herbs and olive oil for the pan) in the bowl of a stand mixer or a food processor, and blend for 1 minute.
- Using a fine mesh strainer and a spoon or a hard spatula, strain the mixture into another bowl or large measuring cup. Once all the liquid is strained out, press the solids a bit more through the strainer to extract out what you can; you'll be left with a few tablespoons of solid chickpea flour mixture that won't make it through the strainer.
- Stir in the fresh herbs (if using) and leave the mixture to sit for 30 minutes or until you're ready to make the crepes. If you leave the mixture longer than 30 minutes, put it in the fridge.
- Heat a medium frying pan over medium heat for 1-2 minutes. Add a small amount of oil (1 teaspoon or so) and brush it to coat the bottom of the pan.
- Pour 1/4 cup of crepe batter into the heated pan and swirl around quickly to distribute the batter evenly. Cook for 45-60 seconds or until the crepe is a medium brown color, then flip over and cook the other side for another 30 seconds.
- Transfer the cooked crepe onto a plate. Repeat the cooking steps until you have a lovely stack of 6-8 crepes, and serve immediately.
- In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the garlic and onions and saute for 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently, until softened.
- Add the mushrooms to the pan, season with salt and pepper, and saute for 6-8 minutes, stirring frequently. As the mushrooms cook they should release some juices, but if you find they're sticking to the pan, lower the heat and cover the pan for a few minutes. Or add a tablespoon or two of chicken stock.
- When the mushrooms are browned and have cooked down, add the spinach leaves and stir until they've wilted.
- Remove from heat, add the shredded Gruyere and stir until it's evenly melted.
These keep well in the fridge for a few days and reheat well: Wrap in foil and reheat at 350F for 12-15 minutes.
If you wish to freeze the crepes, place a sheet of parchment paper between each one before placing in a freezer bag.