A few weeks ago I met up with a friend for dinner. She was talking about how she could never eat tofu. The consistency just wasn’t for her. She ordered an appetizer for the table called “chickpea bites” and they brought out what I swore were steaming, lightly fried, silky smooth tofu squares. I tasted one and said,
“I thought you hated the idea of tofu, did they bring out the wrong appetizer?”
A look of doubt flashed across her face. She looked back at the waiter.
I remembered hearing her say “chickpea bites” and the thought dawned on me, though seemingly impossible, that this might not be tofu. I popped another one and a very subtle chickpea flavor emerged.
“Wow, no, these are chickpeas!”
A sigh of relief. Her drawn face slackened.
While she had averted a mini-culinary identity crisis, a new challenge and a revolutionary concept budded for me. Tofu that isn’t soy, but looks and tastes so similar, I would never have known. I knew I’d have to head into the la-BOR-atory when I got home. Was chickpea tofu a “thing” that I just never heard about?
Apparently, it’s not a “thing”, but people have invented it and maybe it’s high time that it becomes a thing. Falafel is chickpea based, but kind of heavy. So are chickpeas. But these are lighter and airier than actual chickpeas. If you avoid soy, this is a game changer.
For this recipe I followed Heather Crosby’s recipe from Yum Universe. She’s kind of a genius. Not just about this, but her whole repertoire. It takes some heat, some water and about 5 minutes of active activity and you have yourself a non-soy based protein for a few nights.
I hope you all had a good Thanksgiving. I actually did. I really dug into that feeling of gratitude about running around to see the people I love, while maintaining boundaries around how far to go out of my way. Not having to split myself in five really helped. I even took a time out to visit my favorite old haunts in the town I grew up in, where my parents have moved from.
I brought a delicious lentil soup/daal recipe from The First Mess and it was a hit. I certainly over-indulged a little bit as well. These chickpea bites were a great way to ease back into my regular eating routine. Having them on hand to throw into any weeknight meal finds me just that much more time in the day too. Have a wonderful week!
Recipe from Heather Crosby of Yum Universe
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup chickpea flour (or garfava, besan flour)
- 1 tsp fine ground sea salt
- 2 tbsp grapeseed oil, avocado oil, or unrefined coconut oil, plus more for greasing and sautéeing
- Black pepper to taste (optional)
- Grease a 9″ baking dish with oil, or line it with unbleached parchment paper and set aside.
- In a large sauce pot over medium-high heat, whisk together water, chickpea flour, sea salt, black pepper if using, and oil until mixture thickens to a porridge or polenta consistency.
- Use a spatula to spread chickpea batter into the greased dish—smooth out the top as much as possible and allow the batter to cool in the dish for 20–30 minutes. It will solidify.
- Carefully flip or transfer cooled tofu onto a cutting board and slice into cubes or strips.
- Store in the fridge until ready to sauté, bake, fry, or eat as-is—cook like you would with tofu (best for savory dishes).
*Heather also suggests letting the “tofu” ferment for extra flavor and nutrient benefit if you like. Simply whisk together flour, water, and salt, cover with a towel, and set in a warm spot in the kitchen out of direct sunlight for 12–24 hours. Then, whisk in oil, heat in a pot to thicken, and continue with regular instructions. Heat will diminish some probiotic benefit, but the fermentation actually enhances digestibility of the “tofu”. You can freeze sliced/cubed tofu in an airtight glass container for months. Just thaw and prepare as you like.