Vegan Frittata

My chickpea frittata with flash-cooked bok choy.
My chickpea frittata with flash-cooked bok choy.

ForksOverKnives.com, the website of the 2011 documentary, piqued my interest a few months ago with a recipe for “Chickpea Omelet.” No, it’s not lumpy with garbanzos. The dish is a savory pancake using flour ground from the bean.

The chickpea flour sometimes is found in the gluten-free section of supermarkets or natural food stores, but it always has a shelf spot in Indian or other Asian groceries. There it’s also known as gram or besan flour. It has earned a spot in my pantry.

Nor can the beans sit still with just two names, as they’re also known as chana or ceci.

I’d been missing frittatas and omelets since going vegan in spring 2013. Scrambled tofu doesn’t appeal. (I am a 95 percent vegan — rarely, I’ll order huevos rancheros at a TexMex cafe, and I never interrogate any host on whether their cookies or cakes contain milk and eggs because they likely will.)

This recipe and similar ones have a common problem — it tends to be dry. My experiments have found two remedies. The first is to serve the entree with green tomatillo salsa. Or (vegan) mayo. The second is to make the batter on the thick side so the middle will stay moist; this implies I prefer a 1/2- to 1-inch thick frittata — cut into squares or wedges — instead of a folded thin omelet.

The amounts for this recipe leave room in a large skillet to flash-cook a side vegetable, here some baby bok choy. They're not truly sautéed but cooked about 3-4 minutes then turned for another couple.
The amounts for this recipe leave room in a large skillet to flash-cook a side vegetable, here some baby bok choy. They’re not truly sautéed but cooked about 3-4 minutes then turned for another couple minutes.

Here is my adaption of the FoK recipe. The first fix is that it’s halved in quantity. My recipe is perfect for two people. It will fill a medium (10-inch) skillet. I’ve kept fiddling: A picture here shows how I cooked it in the center of a large (12-inch) skillet so I could add farmer’s market bok choy around it.

You can flavor any which way. The Seasonings section has suggestions. I always use nutritional yeast, then either the Italian spice blend or curry. Yes, once my garden’s basil grows bushy, it will be my sole herb – a loosely filled half-cup or more roughly chopped, mixed into the batter.

  • 1/2 cup chickpea flour
  • 1 Tablespoon powdered egg replacer OR ground flaxseed
  • 2-4 Tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon dried onion flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried minced garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt OR 1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder OR baking soda
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup quick-cooking vegetables cut in a small dice (zucchini, mushrooms, bell pepper, green onion, as examples), about 4 oz.
  • 1-3 tablespoons breadcrumbs, panko or matzo meal (the Jewish panko)
  • Oil for skillet
  • Green or red salsa and/or vegan mayo as sauces at the table

Suggested seasonings (use one or a few but NOT all):

  • 1-2 teaspoons dried Italian herb blend
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon hing (asafoetida) powder
  • Pinch of chipotle powder or 1/2 teaspoon of Sriracha sauce

In a medium bowl, combine the chickpea flour, optional egg replacer/flax, baking powder (soda), salt, pepper, turmeric and chosen spices. Stir in the water. Let sit to thicken 5-10 minutes while cutting vegetables. Add vegetables to bowl. Add breadcrumbs or meal 1 tablespoon at a time to make the batter the consistency of a thick milkshake.

Grease a 10- or 12-inch skillet and preheat on medium for 4 minutes.

Spoon or pour the batter into the pan. Cook about 6 minutes. Turn and cook the second side about 6 minutes. The frittata until cooked long enough will stick, so be patient. Putting a lid on the skillet is optional.

Cut into 4-6 pieces. Serves two. Fruit and toast on the side makes the brunch.

Notes

The vegan frittata is excellent as a leftover, served warm or room temperature, and makes a great sandwich.

The optional egg replacer or flaxseed can add body to the batter.

Instead of adding raw, soft vegetables to the batter, already cooked fibrous veggies such as broccoli works well; less seasoning may be appropriate.

The batter makes a faux falafel: Spoon out about six scoops of batter arrayed across a large (12-inch) skillet, greased. Fry as above, but they may need a minute less cooking on each side.

2020 Update: The Crepe or Dosa Version

Inspired by the Sunday brunch menu of Khana Indian Grill in Fayetteville, Arkansas, I’ve turned this recipe into  a version of dosa, a south Indian crepe. Make the batter as above but skip stirring in the vegetables and breadcrumb/panko. The veggie mix now will be the filling added to two dosas, at the end. There’s no need for the crumbs.

Increase the mixed vegetables to 2 cups; including in it some cooked rice or cubed potato is nice. The mixture should warmed before use.

Prepare the batter as above, minus veggies and panko. Allow to thicken for a few minutes as before. Add a little water by the tablespoon so the batter has the consistency of a well-melted milkshake. It will be about 1 cup. For convenience, pour half the batter into another measuring cup or small bowl.

Heat a medium (10-inch) non-stick skillet on medium. Swirl 1 teaspoon oil to coat. Pour in one of the portions of batter and QUICKLY rotate with the handle so the batter covers the bottom. Cook 3 minutes. The top of the dosa will dry from the outside in and darken reddish. When a wide spatula can slide under the dosa without tearing, flip and cook another 2 minutes. Remove dosa to a plate. Cook the second dosa as above, starting with coating the pan with a teaspoon of oil.

Turn off the heat but leave the skillet on the burner. Place the second dosa atop the first. Put about 1 cup of the warmed vegetable mix on the top dosa and fold the pancake over that in half or thirds. Carefully with spatula and fingers place it on the skillet, then fill the bottom dosa and move it to the other half of the pan to rewarm a bit.

Serve each dosa with salsa or chutney.

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