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, but it always has a shelf spot in Indian or other Asian groceries. There it’s also known as gram or besan flour.

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

Gram now has a spot in my pantry. A 2-pound bag costs under $10, even the organic version, at my area’s main South Asian market.

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 other 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.

Here is my adaption of the FoK recipe. The first fix is that it’s halved. 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
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt OR 1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 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

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

  • 2-4 Tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon dried onion flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried minced garlic
  • 1-2 teaspoons dried Italian herb blend
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon hing (asafoetida) powder
  • Pinch of chipotle powder or 1/2 teaspoon of Sriracha sauce
  • Green or red salsa or vegan mayo as the sauce

In a medium bowl, combine the chickpea flour, 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.

Notes:

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

Instead of adding raw, soft vegetables to the batter, a cup of cooked veggies 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.

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