The best part about a cooking challenge is the rare discovery of something great. Forced to think outside your cooking or ingredient box you might find a new technique or ingredient that will soon become part of your regular rotation. This was exactly the case with this chickpea recipe. Having not long ago discovered the delicious socca, I had chickpea flour on hand and was searching for something else to do with it. I also happened to have some smoked salmon that I thought would be great atop a chickpea pancake or similar platform. I thought adding a shredded or mashed potato could be good but only had sweet potatoes on hand and decided they would lend a nice color and sweetness.
My search led me to some panelle recipes which include cooking the chickpea flour with water and herbs and oil, allowing it to cool and become firm like polenta, before frying it to crispy goodness. This sounded like a great method and I decided to see if I could add some mashed sweet potato and herbs to the mix. I cooked a test piece and it far surpassed my expectations. It was crispy, light and fluffy, sweet, nutty….delicious! I tried a few different shapes, dips and toppings and enjoyed them all. They were great with just a bit of salt as french fries (though I also dipped them in an herbed aioli), as a platform for that smoked salmon with sour cream, cucumber and lemon, and topped with a smoky caponata.
Because you can stir up the batter ahead of time, you can keep it in the fridge for a couple days, frying it as the whim strikes. They come together in no time and will absolutely be part of my appetizer rotation from here on out.
Makes 16 canapés, 28 fries
1 small sweet potato
2 green onions, thinly sliced
2 cups water
1 cup chickpea flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
oil for frying
Cook the sweet potato to tender in the microwave (about 5-6 minutes) or oven. Let cool. Blend 1/2 cup to smooth with the water. Heat the mixture in a medium pot with salt until just boiling. Whisk in flour slowly and stir until smooth. Stir in 2 T olive oil and cook until thickened. Scoop into a greased 11×7 baking dish (you can use a portion of a larger one as the mixture is quite thick) and smooth the top.
Let cool, then chill for at least 30 minutes.
Heat 1/4″ oil in a pan, cut chickpea mixture into shapes (fries, rounds, squares) and fry on each side a couple minutes until browned. Drain on paper towels adding a sprinkle of salt if desired.
* These are great as is or topped with a variety of items:
** sour cream, smoked salmon, cucumber, pepper, lemon
** mayonaise, garlic, lemon, parsley
** stewy mix of eggplant, smoky tomatoes, garlic, capers, onion, parsley