Friday, August 16, 2013

A Recipe from The Southern Vegetarian Cookbook

One of the food blogs I peruse on a regular basis is The Chubby Vegetarian ( They (it's a two-person operation) do very creative things with their vegetarian recipes, often recreating traditional dishes in imaginative -- but very do-able -- ways. Many of their creations look exactly like their meaty counterparts, like sloppy Joe's, eggplant "sausages", etc. Their take on making a vegetarian diet interesting is original and inspiring. Apparently one of their favorite foods is mushrooms (mine, too) and they do some fantastic things on that front. It's worth a peek at their blog if only for the mushroom recipes.

They just published their first cookbook, The Southern Vegetarian Cookbook.  In honor of that, I thought I would take a recipe or two from the book and try it out. I've been looking for something to make with garbanzo bean (chickpea) flour and they have a recipe for Fried Chickpea Sandwich with Blue Cheese and Tomato. I'll make some slight adaptations and will note those here.
Since I didn't have vegetable broth on hand (called for by the original recipe), I just used water to cook the chickpea flour.

After cooking the flour on the stove top, spread it out into a dish and let it cool. I put it in the frig until I was ready to finish the process later.

I also made a batch of Maple Mushrooms from The Southern Vegetarian Cookbook to go along as a side. Marinate the mushrooms for 20 minutes or so.

And then spread them out on a baking sheet.

Now back to the chickpea dish. Slide it out of the dish onto a cutting surface and cut it into little triangles.
I used grapeseed oil, instead of canola oil, for frying ... just because that's what I had in the pantry. I would think any neutral oil would do. I generally don't deep fry anything, in fact I never do. I don't have a proper thermometer for measuring oil temperature and I don't have the cookware for it. It's just not something I've gotten into doing myself, but I can appreciate why people do it. 
So for this recipe I used a non-stick pan and did a pan fry, using just enough oil to cover the bottom. I had some trouble getting the stove top heat just right, so there were varying degrees of browning among the batches.
Come to think of it, this was a gluten-free meal that I made with this recipe. The Southern Vegetarian Cookbook recipe is a sandwich recipe, calling for sesame buns and the additions of baby spinach, mayo, tomato, shallot, and crumbled blue cheese. I made mine a bun-less sandwich with heirloom tomato, Vidalia onion, and fresh goat cheese. To the dinner plate I added some left-over oven-roasted potatoes and the Maple Mushrooms.
It's explained in The Southern Vegetarian Cookbook that these chickpea fritters are called panelle in Sicily, but their intent with this recipe was to use them as a substitute for fried chicken in a sandwich. Since mine weren't deep fried, they turned out less crispy on the outside but there's still a contrast between the outside and the creaminess inside.
Chickpea Fritters
(adapted from The Southern Vegetarian Cookbook)
1 cup garbanzo bean (chickpea) flour
2 cups water
salt & pepper
oil for frying (canola, grapeseed, etc.)
heirloom tomato
fresh goat cheese
Vidalia onion
Add 2 cups of water to a  small sauce pan. As you bring the water up slowly to a low boil, slowly add 1 cup flour and whisk continuously. Once the mixture thickens, cook at a simmer for a few minutes while stirring occasionally.
Spread the mixture evenly in a baking dish (I used a 6" x 9" glass dish). Let it cool on the counter. Once cooled, you can either cover it with plastic and store in the refrigerator or proceed with the process.
Slide the mixture out of the dish onto a cutting surface and cut it into 2-inch squares and then halve those. Heat a pan with the oil on medium heat and fry the patties in batches for about 2-4 minutes per side. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Maple Mushrooms
(adapted from The Southern Vegetarian Cookbook)
Note: Instead of using canola oil, soy sauce, and liquid smoke as called for in the original recipe, I used olive oil and sesame oil (again, going with what I had on hand).
1 5-oz. package of sliced shiitake mushrooms
1/8 cup maple syrup
1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp toasted sesame oil
pinch of salt
pepper, to taste
Whisk together all the ingredients, except the mushrooms, in a medium bowl. Toss in the mushrooms, stirring gently to coat everybody, then set aside to marinate for 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Scoop out the mushrooms from the marinade and spread them out on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, and bake for 20 minutes (until they're beginning to brown).

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