Have you tried making crepes at home? Are you stressed by getting the batter just right and the pan to the correct temperature? Standing over the pan patiently making crepe after crepe, do you feel like a master chef or is the process more finicky than fun?
Deluged by requests from friends who want good gluten-free dishes, I thought first of farinata, a substantial chickpea pancake made in northern Italy, and socca, a thinner version eaten in Nice. Memories of these dishes helped me arrive at this way to turn crepe making into an easy pleasure that happens to make gluten-free crepes.
For Mother's Day, serving this dish will elevate brunch or lunch and tell mom she is special. The crepes will delight everyone at the table, including the cook. All you need is olive oil, water and flour made from dried chickpeas, a.k.a. garbanzo beans. This beige flour used to be available only in Italian markets and South Asian stores, where it is also called besan or gram flour. Lately, though, you will find it along with other gluten-free products in supermarkets as well as natural food stores, possibly called garbanzo bean flour.
As with wheat-flour crepes, you do have to get the rhythm of lifting the pan, pouring the batter and tilting the pan right, so expect to save the first one or two of these crepes for the cook to munch on. But after that, the batter makes delicious results that flip easily and do not tear.
My favorite filling is this savory combination of spinach, red onion, sweet bell pepper and mushrooms, which you can make ahead, then reheat in a skillet, adding a splash of broth to prevent burning. A generous spoonful of prepared pesto stirred into the filling adds bold flavor.
Chickpea Crepes with Spinach, Mushroom and Pesto
• 1 cup chickpea flour
• 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
• 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
• 3/4 teaspoon salt
• 2 teaspoons soft buttery spread, if using skillet
• 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
• 1/4 cup finely chopped
• 1/3 cup finely chopped
red bell pepper
• 6 ounces Cremini
mushrooms, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
• 2 tablespoons prepared pesto
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper
In medium bowl, whisk chickpea flour, oil, rosemary and salt with water until mixture is smooth. Let batter sit 20 to 30 minutes to thicken slightly. Before cooking stir to loosen any clumps.
For crepes, set non-stick crepe pan over medium-high heat until drops of water flicked into pan ball up and bounce. With one hand, hold pan up at 45-degree angle. Pour 1/4 cup batter near top of pan, rotating pan as you pour so batter flows into 6- to 7-inch round crepe. Cook until crepe is golden on bottom, 1 to 2 minutes. Using large spa-tula, turn and cook until crepe is lightly golden on bottom, about 30 seconds. Transfer crept to large plate. Cover each crepe with wax paper. If using a regular skillet instead of non-stick crepe pan, coat hot pan with 1/2 teaspoon spread before first crepe and repeat as needed between crepes.
If not filling crepes immediately, cool to room temperature and cover plate with plastic wrap. Hold crepes at room temperature for up to 8 hours, refrigerate for up to 24 hours.
For filling, in medium skillet heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Add red peppers and cook, stirring, until onions are translucent, 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture looks wet, 5 to 6 minutes. Add spinach, stirring to wilt leaves. Cook, stirring often, until most of moisture has evaporated and filling is tender, 8 minutes.
If crepes have been made ahead, wrap them in foil and warm in 250 degrees oven, 20 minutes. To assemble crepes, in small bowl, mix pesto with 2 tablespoons warm water. Stir pesto into filling. Arrange a crepe on a plate. Spoon 1/6 filling over bottom half of each crepe, then gently fold crepe in half over filling. Repeat with remaining crepes and filling. If desired, garnish plate with some mesclun leaves and strawberries. Serve immediately.
Nutritional information per serving: 170 calories, 11 g total fat (1.5 g saturated fat), 15 g carbohydrate, 6 g protein, 4 g dietary fiber, 400 mg sodium.