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.
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.