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.

Vegan Sweet Corn Tamale Cakes

IMG_0247   If you ever enjoyed the Sweet Corn Tamale Cakes from The Cheesecake Factory, you might also like these easy, delicious, vegan versions.  I whip up some quick Romesco Sauce to go with them, which really bumps up the protein, but you could use any topping you like.  Even just some vegan sour cream with chopped cilantro would be great.  I only make these when fresh local corn is in season.


Makes 10

1/2 Cup corn flour
1/2 Cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1 Tablespoon Baking Powder
2 teaspoons Ener-G Egg Replacer
1 teaspoon onion powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil  (I used safflower oil)
1 Cup Lite coconut milk
2 Cups grated zucchini  (about one medium-to-large zucchini, peeled)
2 Cups fresh corn, cut off the cobs  (about 5 ears of corn)
1-2 Tablespoons chopped chives  (or a chopped shallot)

Make your sauce, and set in fridge to chill  (I made this Romesco Sauce).
In a medium bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients.
In a large bowl, mix oil, coconut milk, zucchini, corn and chives.
Add dry ingredients to wet, and stir gently but well with a wooden spoon.
Brush large, non-stick skillet with one teaspoon of oil, and set on almost-medium heat.
Using a 1/3 Cup measure for each cake,  pour out three cakes into skillet.
Cook about 5-6 minutes, until the cakes move when you shake the pan.
Carefully flip,  and cook other side.
Keep warm in 175 degrees Fahrenheit oven.
Serve with Romesco Sauce,  or vegan sour cream and chopped cilantro,  etc.

For reasons of flavor, I do not recommend using canola oil.

Puff Pastry Squash Tart with Almond Feta

This rich, savory tart is great for lunch, brunch or even a fancy dinner.  The Almond Feta from a previous post provides lots of protein and antioxidants.  And honestly, it tastes a lot like feta in this dish, but better.  I put this together in under one hour, so we could have it for lunch, and it made 6 generous slices.  The only phyllo style sheets I could find were Pepperidge Farm brand, but it worked out.  I looked at the Trader Joe’s phyllo recently, and was disappointed to see that it was NOT vegan.  I did use Penzey’s Greek Seasoning, but you could just improvise with lemon zest, oregano, and marjoram.  Lars had to have another half a slice, so depending upon whom you’re feeding (and what else you’re serving), the yield does vary.  Another photo below.  Vegan Mofo 2012.

Serves 4 to 6

1/3 Cup chopped parsley (flat leaf or regular)
1 teaspoon Penzey’s Greek Seasoning
1 garlic clove, crushed and minced
3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 small zucchini, cut into 1/8 inch thick rounds
2 small summer squash, cut into 1/8 inch thick rounds
one package Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Sheets, thawed
1/3 Cup Kalamata olives, pitted and sliced the long way
1/2 Cup Almond Feta, divided in half

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
Make sure Puff Pastry sheets are thawed but very chilled.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a small bowl, stir together parsley, Greek Seasoning,  garlic, only 2 Tablespoons of the oil, salt and pepper.
Place squash rounds in a large bowl, and add the remaining Tablespoon of oil and only 1/4 Cup of the Almond Feta, and mix well with a wooden spoon.
Unfold one sheet of puff pastry/phyllo and place on parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
Unfold second sheet of pastry, and slice off long, one-inch-wide strips and use them to build up the edges of the bottom sheet of phyllo  (see photo below).  I built mine up twice.  Visualize a picture frame.
Spread parsley mixture all over the bottom phyllo sheet.
Spread zucchini and squash rounds on top of the parsley.
Top with sliced olives and the remaining 1/4 Cup of Almond Feta.
Bake 30 minutes, until phyllo crust is golden brown.
Cut into six pieces, garnish with a light sprinkle of tiny oregano leaves (optional).

Notes:  It is important that the squash slices be cut no thicker than 1/8 inch, so that it cooks through with everything else.  In hindsight, I would cut the kalamata olives lengthwise (not in rings) as it would be prettier.

Here below is a photo of the built-up pastry edges.

Coconut Curry Quinoa Stew

img_3152     I adapted this easy recipe from a little brochure that came with my bag of Ancient Harvest quinoa.  This stew by itself is good, but we felt it could use a little something more, so I put out mango chutney and shelled some salted pistachios, and once we garnished our bowls with those, it was more along the lines of very good.  This is a great one-pot meal, really, but if you serve it with some greens and a good bread, it’s a healthy feast.  Lots of protein, warm and comforting.   You could also put out some sriracha sauce for those who want it hot.   I just use whatever veggies I have in the house sometimes–it’s flexible like that.  Some cornbread or a fruity quick bread would be a great accompaniment, or could serve as dessert.  I served it with steamed kale on the side, too.


Serves 6 to 8  (recipe said it serves 4 but it makes a lot)

1 Tablespoon unrefined coconut oil  (or olive oil)
1 medium onion, diced
1 small zucchini or summer squash, chopped
2 celery stalks chopped small  (optional)
1 yellow or red bell pepper diced
1.5 teaspoons curry powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
½ Cup uncooked quinoa
1.5 Cups water
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 cinnamon stick,  or 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 Cup cooked kidney beans  (I use one 15 oz. can drained)
14 oz. can light coconut milk
If fresh corn is available, kernels from 2 to 3 ears, added in at last minute
Fresh parsley and/or cilantro for garnish
Chutney for topping (stir it up so it’s a little soupy for drizzling)
salted pistachio nuts, shelled, for topping

Chop vegetables.   Heat oil in a heavy-bottom soup pot or Dutch oven, on medium heat.
Add all vegetables and stir occasionally, for 5 minutes.   Add ground spices to vegetables and mix in.    Add quinoa to the pot and stir.    Add water, salt, cinnamon, beans and coconut milk.    Simmer until quinoa drinks up the liquid and vegetables are soft, 15-20 minutes.    Remove cinnamon stick if using.

Put out chopped cilantro, chopped parsley, plenty of shelled pistachios and a sweet chutney for drizzling, and let everyone garnish their own dish however they like.  It’s good to remember that cilantro is an acquired taste for some.  This stew will thicken as it sits.

Note:  I like Patak’s Chutney (found in many grocery stores) and there are different flavors, such as sweet mango or hot mango.

Vegan Zucchini Crab Cakes

For all those who miss the flavor of crab cakes.   These are delicate and must be handled a bit gently.  In my opinion, this is a “wow” recipe; something you can serve as a special meal.  The Nori gives a faint hint of oceanic flavor, and the Panko gives the outside of the cake a delicate crunch that’s refined in a Japanese way.  Serving them with a vegan tartar sauce or better yet, this Vegan Remoulade Sauce is a must.  And so are at least two lemon wedges per serving.  These will take you at least an hour, but they’re worth it.  They freeze beautifully, so you’ll have some for future.  There are easy tips in this recipe; a non-stick skillet, pressing the tofu until it’s dry, etc.  Follow the procedures and all will be well.  This would be a great recipe to use when the zucchini ripens this summer.


Makes approximately 14 “crab” cakes.

3 slices whole wheat bread toasted and processed into fine crumbs (I use Ezekiel Bread with the orange wrapper)
1 flax egg   (mix 1 Tablespoon flax meal with 3 Tablespoons water and let thicken)
3 Cups (no more) zucchini, pulsed fine in food processor (don’t peel it if it’s organic) (I used two approx. 8-inch zucchini and got just about 3 cups)
1 stalk celery finely chopped (food processor)
1/2 yellow or white onion finely chopped (food processor)
1 carrot (food processor)
1/4 Cup fresh parsley, chopped fine
1 teaspoon neutral-tasting oil (such as canola, safflower or grapeseed)
16 oz. firm tofu, pressed and dry (food processor but do not puree)
1 sheet Nori seaweed, chopped (I fold it and use scissors to snip into very small pieces)
1/2 Cup vegan mayonnaise (I like Reduced Fat Vegenaise)
1 Tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning
2 teaspoons dry mustard
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 Cup Panko crumbs (for coating)
Cooking spray (if baking)

Preheat the oven to 350 if baking.
In a lightly oiled skillet on medium heat, sauté zucchini, celery, onion, carrot, and parsley until the vegetables are softened but firm. Set them aside.
In a large bowl, combine the processed tofu, flax egg, sautéed vegetables, 3/4 of the whole wheat bread crumbs, vegan mayonnaise, seaweed, and seasonings, and mix everything well. If the mixture seems too wet and isn’t holding together, add the remaining toasted crumbs until you have a mixture that is moist and easy to shape into patties. Usually I use the entire amount of toasted crumbs.
Form about 14 half-inch-thick patties, using a level 1/3 cup of mixture for each.
Coat each patty with Panko bread crumbs and put on a plate.
Spray or heat a little oil in a seasoned (or nonstick) skillet until the pan is hot but the oil isn’t smoking.    Gently lay each patty in the pan and fry about 5 minutes.
Don’t fuss with the cakes until they move freely when you gently shake the pan forth and back.    When the cakes are golden brown on one side, gently turn them over and fry the other side.

Alternatively, you can place the patties on an oiled, lined (or nonstick) baking sheet.  Spray each patty lightly with cooking spray and bake about 15 minutes.
Then, gently turn the patties and continue baking until toasty brown.

Serve hot or warm with Vegan Remoulade Sauce and lemon wedges.   Note:  These freeze beautifully.  Fry them and cool completely before freezing.  To serve, thaw and reheat in the oven or microwave.  I highly recommend that you belly up to the food processor for this recipe, and process everything in groups.  It saves a ton of time.  If you cannot find the Old Bay Seasoning in your country, here is a recipe for it.  It really adds a lot and is the classic, essential seasoning here in the Mid-Atlantic on the Chesapeake Bay.  I did use myTofuExpress tofu press here, but it’s easy to simply put the tofu on a plate and put another plate on top and then a weight (a can of soup or a book) on top of the top plate, and just keep draining.