Chickpea Zucchini Fries with Sumac and Lemon

IMG_1104    Crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, this is my riff on Mario Batali’s Chickpea Fries.  We found his version too bland, so these have been spiced up a bit, and this recipe below is halved.  I didn’t bother wringing out the zucchini, just left it to drain longer instead.  Packed with fiber and protein, these golden fries are addictive when served with wedges of fresh lemon and sea salt.


Serves 4

1 large zucchini, partially peeled and grated  (approx. 3 cups of grated zucchini)
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 Cups water
1.5 Cups chickpea flour  (also called garbanzo flour)
1.5 teaspoon ground sumac
1 teaspoon Shallot-Pepper  or any other spice(s)
1/4 Cup all-purpose flour for dredging (optional)
1/2 Cup peanut oil
2 lemons, cut into wedges
sea salt or other finishing salt

Place grated zucchini in a bowl and sprinkle with the 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and stir to mix well.  Transfer grated zucchini to a colander set over a bowl, and set aside to drain for 30 minutes or so.  Occasionally, gently stir and press it with the back of a spoon.

Grease a baking dish and line the bottom with waxed paper or parchment paper.  I used waxed paper and a Pyrex dish of approx. 11×7 inches.  Set this prepared baking dish in the refrigerator while you work.

In a medium mixing bowl, dry whisk the sumac and shallot-pepper (or other seasonings) into the chickpea flour.  In a medium saucepan, simmer the water over medium heat.  Pour in the seasoned chickpea flour and stir constantly for one minute, making sure heat is not too high.  Add zucchini, stir well and remove from heat.  Pour zucchini mixture into prepared baking dish, and gently press and smooth it out with the back of a spoon.  Chill for at least one hour, or overnight.

Onto a large floured cutting board, turn out the set chickpea mixture.  Peel off and discard the waxed paper.  Cut into fries approx. 3″ x 1/2″.   In a heavy-bottom pot, heat the oil.  Dredge fries lightly in all-purpose flour (this step is optional but it’s the only way I’ve ever done it).  Working in batches, cook the chickpea fries until golden brown, about 3 to 4 minutes.  You’re going for golden brown here, not too dark.  Drain on paper towels and serve immediately with plenty of lemon wedges,  and sea salt for sprinkling.

Notes:  You can find ground sumac in any Middle-Eastern grocery.  These are worth getting out your best salt for.  Feel free to change up the spices.  I’ll try using black pepper and rosemary next time, to go with the lemon and sea salt.  These are called panisses in France, and panelle in Italy.  Here’s a video of Mario Batali making these.  More photos below.

IMG_1098 Zucchini draining into a bowl.
IMG_1100  Water drained from the zucchini.

Cream of Mushroom Soup with Rosemary

Here is a silky, cream-of-mushroom soup with a luscious  flavor and texture that would please any Polish Grandmother.  Rosemary is a common ingredient in homemade cream of mushroom soup, but here it’s steeped into a subtlety that adds complexity without being overwhelming.  I’ve bumped up the flavor with white wine (using Madeira because it’s traditional), and made a cashew sour cream for extra protein and richness.  Now that I’ve made this, it inspires me to go ahead and try again on the white spargle soup that I failed on last year.  This vegan bisque is soy free, gluten free, and tastes even better the next day.  This is so sophisticated, and tastes so Alsatian, that I would serve it to anyone, even a European chef.
Vegan Cream of Mushroom Soup with Rosemary

Serves:  approximately 6  (I didn’t keep track too well)

For the Cashew Cream
3/4 Cup raw cashews
1/2 Cup filtered water
juice of half a lemon

For the Soup
2 Tablespoons Earth Balance organic vegan butter
4 shallots, minced very fine
16 oz. fresh, organic, pristine white button mushrooms, rinsed well and chopped  (I only use the caps)
2 Cups vegetable broth  (I used Better Than Bouillon)
1/2 Cup white wine of some kind  (I used Madeira)
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/3 Cup coconut creamer, So Delicious brand
3 small sprigs fresh rosemary,  2-3 inches long each,  rinsed
plus one tiny sprig for garnish.  Rosemary is a key ingredient of this recipe, don’t omit it!

The day before, make the cashew sour cream:
Combine cashews, water and lemon juice in food processor and puree until very smooth.  Store in sealed container in fridge overnight.

The next day:
In a smaller stock pot, heat vegan butter on medium heat.
Add minced shallots and saute until soft, about 5 minutes.
Add chopped mushrooms and cook until they begin to give off their liquid, about 10 minutes, adding a little stock if it begins to dry out.
Add all remaining vegetable stock.
Add the salt and white wine, and stir until blended.
Add the cashew sour cream and stir until blended.
Add the coconut creamer and stir until blended.
Remove from heat, add the sprigs of rosemary and cover to steep for 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes, stir soup and discard rosemary sprigs.
In a blender, puree 3/4 of the soup until very smooth.
Add pureed soup back into the pot with the un-blended soup.
Re-heat and serve, or refrigerate until the next day.
Heat before serving, but do not boil.
Garnish with a tiny sprig of rosemary.

Note:  I would not use soy creamer here, because it has a distinct flavor that would take away from the purity of these simple ingredients.

Butler Soy Curls

This is my new favorite meat substitute.  Butler Soy Curls are so easy to prepare and can go in any dish.  They are non GMO, have a decent shelf life, and don’t need to be refrigerated.  They are simply textured whole soy beans that plump up like shreds and strips of chicken when you hydrate them.  Then they soak up any flavors you throw at them.  So far, I’ve made the Hawaiian Luau Soy Curls, which is really delicious, and tastes just like sweet-and-sour chicken.  I also hydrated some and then put them in a skillet with chopped onions, a little hot water and bottled barbecue sauce, and made BBQ sandwiches on buns.  Then I used them in my pot pie recipe.  I don’t know that anyone would really know it wasn’t chicken if you didn’t tell them.  Recipes seem to call for a whole bag of this stuff, which I cannot buy locally yet.  So I figured out that 1 to 1.5 oz. per person works great.  I hydrate them in 2 cups of hot water that’s been made into a broth with 1 teaspoon of Better Than Bouillon.  After they hydrate for 10 minutes, you drain them in a colander and they’re ready to go.  If you want to be decadent, you can then pan fry them in a tablespoon or two of unrefined coconut oil to give them a crispy outer texture, before adding to your dish.  I order Butler Soy Curls through Vegan Essentials and also Pangea Vegan Store.  More photos below.  These don’t weigh a thing, so a bag of soy curls could be thrown in a suitcase or carry-on when you travel to friends or family.

Curried Chickpea Cakes by Kim Barnouin

These Curried Chickpea Cakes are easy and delicious, with a definite-but-light Indian flavor profile.  This recipe is from  Skinny Bitch: Ultimate Everyday Cookbook by Kim Barnouin.  I made a quick condiment for them by mixing one part Patak’s Mango Chutney (from a jar), with two parts Vegenaise.  It makes ten cakes, and I ended up freezing 5 or 6 of them for another quick meal.  The cookbook says this makes ten servings, but we easily ate two each and a hungry boy or man could wipe out three with no problem.  I switched out the bread crumbs for Quinoa Flakes and had good success.  I guess this makes mine gluten free, except that I rolled them in Panko before frying.  However, you could also use crushed vegan Corn Flakes for the coating instead of the Panko.  I think if you made these really petite, maybe one tablespoon each, they’d make great appetizers topped with a little dollop of chutney and a cilantro leaf or something.  This is also a great recipe when you have some leftover brown rice you want to use up.   p.s. This is a pretty, reader-friendly, sort of California-chic cookbook and would make a great gift.


Makes 9-10 cakes (approximately 5 servings)

15 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/3 Cup sliced green onions (both white and light green parts)
1/3 Cup light coconut milk
2/3 Cup Quinoa Flakes or bread crumbs or Panko
2/3 Cup crumb coating, such as bread crumbs, Panko or vegan corn flakes crushed
2 teaspoons cane sugar
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon turmeric (optional but I use it every chance I get for its health benefits and golden color)
2/3 Cup cooked brown rice
1/4 Cup grapeseed oil for pan searing

In a food processor, combine chickpeas and green onions, and pulse until combined  (see photo below for my consistency).   Transfer to a large mixing bowl.
Dry whisk sugar, all spices and salt to evenly incorporate them.
To mixing bowl, add coconut milk, sugar/salt/spices and Quinoa Flakes.
Stir together with a wooden spoon until well combined.   Stir in the brown rice.
Mold into ten patties, using a scant 1/4 Cup measure.   Roll patties in crumb coating.

In a large saute pan, heat oil over medium heat.    Add chickpea cakes to the pan in batches and saute until there’s a nice golden sear on the bottom, about 3-4 minutes per side.  Transfer to paper-towel-lined plate to drain.  Continue with remaining cakes.

Tip:  You can make these ahead and re-heat them in the oven or microwave.  They freeze well too.  For a quick condiment, mix 1/4 Cup of mango chutney with 1/2 Cup vegan mayonnaise, such as Vegenaise.

Nutritional Values:  Servings 123 g.  Calories 170.  Fat 7 g.  Saturated Fat 1 g.  Cholesterol 0 mg.  Carbs 23 g.  Fiber 3 g.  Protein 4 g.

Buckwheat Sprouts

I received this post about buckwheat sprouts from the Food Matters site, and was amazed by the health benefits.  First of all, I thought buckwheat was a grain, but it’s not.  I really don’t care that it’s gluten-and-wheat-free, but I do care that it’s a complete source of protein, has all the B vitamins, is high in calcium, cleanses the colon, balances cholesterol, neutralizes toxins, and alkalizes the body.  As the site says, it’s also full of rutin, which is helpful for those with varicose veins or hardening of the arteries, because it actually strengthens capillary walls.  Our brains are made up of 28% lecithin and buckwheat sprouts are rich in lecithin, making this also a powerful brain food.  All in all, buckwheat sprouts are a superfood.  Buckwheat groats are simply hulled buckwheat seeds.  How easy is it to sprout buckwheat groats?  SUPER easy.  The hardest part was actually finding them, but I finally found some at Whole foods in Annapolis, although they were not organic.  There are all kinds of contraptions you can sprout with, but I love that this method only takes a fine mesh colander.  I’m going to buy a little plastic mesh colander for these because I’m guessing that over time, the metal colander will rust, not sure.  p.s.  I think this would be a fun project to do with kids of all ages.

Place 1.5 Cups of buckwheat groats into a bowl and cover it with 2 to 3 times as much room-temperature water.
Mix the seeds so that none are floating on top.
Allow seeds to soak for about an hour.
Rinse and drain the water in a colander and let them stand in the colander (with the colander resting over a bowl) on the counter.
Rinse 3 times per day with cool water, for two days.
When rinsing sprouts, use a little water pressure to make sure you are rinsing them wellI also shake the colander a bit to rotate the groats in the colander.
You may notice a gooey substance on the buckwheat, which is starch.  Make sure that you wash this off thoroughly.  I found no gooey substance.
Sprouts will form after only a day or two.
After a final rinse, dry the sprouts by laying them on a clean, lint-free towel.
Let sprouts dry on the counter for 8 hours or so.
Never refrigerate wet sprouts.
Sprouts are ready to use, or you can refrigerate them in a covered container for up to 2 weeks.  Here’s how to use your crop:

  • Pack sprouts into sandwiches.
  • Blend with fruits and vegetables for green drinks or smoothies.
  • Eat cold as a cereal (with nuts, dried fruit, plant milk, agave syrup or maple syrup, a sprinkle of cinnamon, etc.)
  • Sprinkle on top of other cereals.
  • Throw into salads just before eating.
  • Buckwheat sprouts are best eaten raw.

Notes:  My buckwheat groats sprouted after only one day, and by the second day the little sprouts were pretty long (see photo below).  Check out Sprout People for a LOT more info. on sprouting everything and anything.  They are also a source for organic buckwheat groats (hulled seeds).

Here are the sprouts by day two, ready to dry.

Peanut Butter Quinoa Cookies

Since going vegan, I had not found a really good peanut butter cookie.  I tried the recipe from TJOVB, and didn’t love it, etc.  Recently, i found some  Ancient Harvest Quinoa Flakes, and on the back of the box was a little recipe for Crispy Quinoa Cookies.  I never thought this would also turn out to be a really good, gluten-free Peanut Butter cookie.  I took a bite, expecting more of a Middle Eastern or quinoa flavor, but no, it just tastes like a great little peanut butter cookie!  I switched out the honey and got lucky on the results.  These would be great to pack into lunch boxes, take on hikes and bikes, and are good enough to give as gifts.  Gluten Free and loaded with protein, but you’d never know.  I’d like to try making them as peanut-butter-and-jelly thumbprint cookies.


Makes:  about 36 to 40 cookies

1/4 Cup agave syrup
1/4 Cup real maple syrup
1/3 Cup brown sugar
1/2 Cup vegan butter (one stick of Earth Balance Buttery Sticks)
1/2 Cup peanut butter (I like Maranatha No-Stir  or  O Organics No Stir)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 Cup rice flour
3/4 Cup Quinoa Flakes (Ancient Harvest brand)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 Cup sliced almonds (optional)

Heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a large bowl, beat agave and maple syrups, brown sugar, vegan butter, peanut butter and vanilla, until creamy.    In a medium bowl, combine rice flours, quinoa flakes, baking soda and salt, and dry whisk.    Add dry ingredients to wet, and mix until well blended.
If using, add nuts and mix just until incorporated.
Measure out rounded teaspoons and then flatten them slightly.  Place about 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheet (I use parchment paper).
Bake 12-15 minutes or until light golden brown (I found 13 minutes just right for my electric, non-convection oven).    Cool one minute before transferring cookies to rack.

Notes:  Cookies will firm up slightly once cooled.  I made them one time using 1/2 Mochiko flour and 1/2 brown rice flour, and they were good.  These cookies do not spread much, so that’s why I flatten the dough balls slightly before baking.

Trader Joe’s Brown Rice Pasta

Trader Joe’s Brown Rice Penne Pasta is just one of those simple products that’s a good thing.  Wheat Free, Cholesterol Free, Sodium Free, AND Organic!  I’m not gluten free, but also think we could use a bit less wheat in our diet when there’s a good alternative.  The ingredients are organic brown rice and water.  I’ve tried some whole-wheat pastas and we weren’t crazy about them.  Some were tough or became tough once they sat a few minutes.  One cup of this pasta (cooked) provides 4 grams of protein and some iron.  This one-pound bag provides 8 servings and costs $1.99.  We just hope Trader Joe’s in Annapolis will also supply the  fusilli, and not just the penne.  And we hope Trader Joe’s will also make small elbow macaroni for vegan macaroni and cheese!