Chickpea Fries

Panelle

MAKES: 4 to 6 appetizer servings

TIME: 45 minutes

Among the best appetizers ever, these fries are crisp, tasty, and satisfying. They can be made in a relatively short time or ahead (up to cooking them), flavored in at least a dozen different ways, and cut into all kinds of shapes. Serve them over and over with slight variations in form and flavor, and no one will ever suspect it’s all the same basic recipe. Skip the cheese and the fries are vegan.

Neutral oil, like corn or grapeseed, for greasing and frying

1 cup chickpea flour, sifted

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Finely grated Parmesan cheese for garnish (optional)

Grease a baking sheet or pizza pan with a rim and set aside. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a medium pot. Gradually add the chickpea flour, with a large pinch of salt and pepper, whisking constantly to prevent lumps from forming. Reduce to a gentle bubble, stir in the olive oil, and cook for just a minute.

Scoop the chickpea mixture onto the prepared pan and spread into an even layer. Let cool for a few minutes and then cover loosely with parchment or plastic. Refrigerate until chilled through, about 30 minutes (but up to a day, covered tightly after it’s completely cool).

Put enough oil to come to a depth of at least 1/8 inch (1/4 inch is better) in a large skillet over medium heat. Meanwhile, cut the chickpea mixture into 3 Г— 1/2-inch fries (or into triangles, or rounds using a cookie cutter). Gently put batches of the fries in the hot oil, gently rotating them for even cooking and browning on all sides, about 3 to 4 minutes.

Drain the fries on paper towels and immediately sprinkle with salt, lots of pepper, and a good dusting of Parmesan if you like. Serve hot or at room temperature with lemon wedges or sauce (see the list 8 Sauces to Serve with Chickpea Fries).

Variation

Peanut and Chickpea Fries. The peanut flour adds a great nutty flavor serve savory or sweet, sprinkled with confectioners sugar: Replace half of the chickpea flour with peanut flour (see Nuts and Seeds). Proceed with the recipe.

8 Sauces to Serve with Chickpea Fries

  1. Fast Tomato Sauce
  2. Spicy Indian Tomato Sauce
  3. Chimichurri
  4. Garlic Mayonnaise
  5. Ketchup (to make your own, see Homemade Ketchup)
  6. Just about any yogurt sauce or raita (see The Simplest Yogurt Sauce)
  7. Nearly any chutney
  8. Tahini Sauce

12 Fabulous Additions to Chickpea Pancakes and Fries

Most of these are best stirred into the batter just before cooking; cheese is best sprinkled over the top of the cooked pancakes. Try combinations like chopped parsley with lemon zest and capers; cilantro, green olives, and preserved lemon; or sage, sunflower seeds, and pecorino.

  1. Chopped fresh herbs, like parsley, basil, cilantro, chives, tarragon, dill, sage, thyme, or rosemary
  2. Minced raw garlic or several cloves Roasted Garlic
  3. Chopped scallion or shallot
  4. Grated lemon zest
  5. Chopped or sliced black or green olives
  6. Chopped or sliced fresh chiles
  7. Chopped sun-dried tomatoes
  8. Chopped Preserved Lemon
  9. Chopped or whole capers
  10. Pine nuts, pumpkin seeds, or sunflower seeds
  11. Spice mixtures like curry powder, chaat masala, or chile powder (to make your own, see Chaat Masala)
  12. Finely grated cheeses: Hard cheeses, like Parmesan, pecorino, Asiago, manchego, or Comt, added to the batter; semihard or soft cheeses, like Roquefort or Gorgonzola, goat cheese, or mozzarella, as toppings for the pancakes or for pizza