Chickpea Flour (a new book)

August 14, 2016
In case you hadn't noticed, there's been a lot of hoopla the last few years about wheat. Everybody and her brother avoids bread and pasta. And, full disclosure, I admit that I have stopped making bread, stopped eating wheat, and have a cupboard overwhelmingly stocked with the non-wheat baking staples: rice flour (brown and white), teff flour, millet flour, buckwheat flour, sorghum flour, potato starch, tapioca starch, and almond flour. Plus a few others for good measure.
I just found a new cookbook that might change everything. Chickpea Flour Does It All, by Lindsey S. Love (New York: The Experiment, LLC, 2016).  The subtitle describes it as "Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Vegetarian Recipes for Every Taste and Season." I highly recommend this book.
Divided by seasons and subdivided by months, the book features soups, appetizers, main dishes, crackers and breads, and desserts for every season. Spices and herbs from many cultures enliven the dishes, so you will never get bored. The vegetarian dishes are inventive and inviting, full of flavour and colour.
Most of us know, however, that you can eat gluten-free very easily in all categories except bread. So what's particularly helpful in this book are the variations on the "bread" theme: in addition to the expected socca (also called farinata or panisse) you'll find flatbreads, wraps, pancakes, crackers, pie crusts, biscuits, brownies, and muffins--all made with chickpea flour.
One of the recipes I tried was for "Ratatouille Tartlets".  I'm a sucker for tarts, tartlets, pie crusts in any form, and I particularly hunger for them because making wheat-free versions is a royal pain. Lindsey Love's tartlet recipe was so easy and so delicious that I'll be making it for other kinds of fillings as well. Here's her tartlet recipe:
1 1/2 c. (GF) rolled oats
1 c. chickpea flour
1/2 c. sunflower seeds
2 T sesame seeds
1 t. sea salt
1/4 t. freshly ground pepper
1/2 c. extra virgin olive oil
1/4 c. ice water
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease six tartlet pans and place them on a baking sheet; set aside. In a food processor fitted with a metal S blade, pulse together the oats, flour, seeds, sea salt and pepper until finely ground, about 30 seconds. Place the pulsed mixture in a large bowl, pour in the oil and water, mix thoroughly with a fork until mixture is wet and clumpy. Divide the dough evenly among the tart pans, pressing the dough into the bottoms and sides. Bake for 30 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oven and let cool completely.*
The remainder of the recipe tells how to make the ratatouille filling (which is added, cooked, to the already baked tart shells, with no further baking needed). I'll let you find your own version of ratatouille. Mine, that day, consisted of a leftover mixture of red and yellow pepper that I had sauteed with onion and garlic. For my tart filling, I cooked an additional half an onion in olive oil, then added a thinly sliced zucchini and my last tomato, chopped, and I let these cook for six or so minutes, at which point I chopped and stirred in the leftover pepper mixture. A quick trip to the back yard gave me some basil and parsley to throw in to the mix. When the tart shells were done I removed them from the pans and filled them with my eggplant-free ratatouille. The nutty, slightly crunchy, very tender tart shells were delicious.
*The tart shells are pretty fragile, so if appearance is important to you, it might be useful to allow for breakage by making a few extra. Any broken tart shells can be crumbled and saved to sprinkle on top of a gratin some day, or to add to your breakfast granola.


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