Monday, August 17, 2009

Chickpea crepes with tomatoes, olives, and feta

I've been on a Bon Appetit recipe kick lately, as you may be able to tell. This was in the July 2009 issue. It's not really a crepe, but it's not really a pizza either. It's similar to socca, which we tried in Nice. It's made with chickpea flour, which you can find at a health or fancy food store or an Indian grocery store. (It's called besan in Indian stores.) The recipe from the magazine is rather involved. You cook the crepe on the stove until it's mostly set. Then you put it under the broiler and brown the top and whatever toppings you put on there. You have to add a ton of oil to keep it from sticking, and it's still pretty messy. I had really tasty results when I made it that way, but it was time-consuming, difficult, messy, and very hot. Standing in front of a stove and broiler in August in Houston is not a lot of fun. I would recommend that technique if you really want to knock someone's socks off and aren't on a diet.

Convinced there must be an easier way, I decided to see if I could make them entirely on the stove using my nonstick crepe pan. I don't have to oil the pan at all. I played around a little and came up with this technique, which saves a little time and a lot of heat and effort with very little compromise in flavor. I even got pretty good at flipping the crepe without breaking it, but don't fret if you can't. It'll still taste good. Of course, the toppings below are just a suggestion. The first time, we used beet greens instead of the tomatoes, and those were good too. Plain with a little olive oil and pepper would work just fine, but adding some more toppings makes it a real meal. I think putting a full salad on top would be fun, too.

A nutrition note: 1 cup of chickpea flour has about 21 grams of protein and 10 grams of fiber. More nutrition info here.

Chickpea crepes with tomatoes, olives, and feta (based on Bon Appetit)
1 1/3 cups chickpea flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups water, divided (2/3 cup and 1 1/3 cup)
1 tbsp minced fresh rosemary

1/2 tomato per crepe, cut into wedges
6 kalamata olives per crepe, pitted and coarsely chopped
1 tbsp feta per crepe
Extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling

Mix chickpea flour with salt. Gradually add 2/3 cup water, whisking until smooth. Whisk in 1 1/3 cups water and rosemary. Let stand 30 minutes. (Note: I don't know why it needs to stand 30 minutes, but I haven't tried omitting that step.) While you're waiting you can pit olives or make a salad. You should also smell the batter because it smells delightfully beany with lovely rosemary notes.
Heat a crepe pan or other nonstick skillet over medium heat until water sizzles in it. Pour in about 3/4 cups of batter. (That was for a 9-inch crepe pan. If you have a smaller one, use less batter.) Tilt the pan if necessary to get the batter to coat the whole thing. It should be 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick, more a pancake thickness than a crepe thickness. Cook until mostly set on the top. Pierce bubbles if they form. Carefully loosen crepe from pan and flip. Cook about 30 seconds to a minute on that side. Repeat with remaining batter. You might have to turn the heat down a little as you go along.
Top each crepe with tomatoes, olives, and feta. Drizzle with olive oil as desired.

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