Chickpea dippers

Christmas is a time for buffet lunches and snacking, or at least that’s what seems to happen. My family seem to get through a lot of breadsticks at this time of year. But for sensitive eaters, that may not be such a good thing. Day 9 of my Sensitive Foodie Advent calendar is a great alternative to bread sticks, perfect for dipping in hummus, flavoursome dips or just nibbling by themselves.

Rather oddly, breadsticks are one of the things I really miss. Once I discovered my sensitivity to yeast, anything bread-related was out the question. Not only that, but many contain some form of dairy so the were doubly banned.

Crudities are obviously the healthiest thing to dip – fresh, crunchy veggies that add flavour and extra nutrients, but sometimes you just want something a little more firm, yet stodgy. These chickpea dippers hit the spot.

Chickpea flour is one of those wonder ingredients that makes life eating a plant-based diet so much easier. It’s also gluten-free, so perfect if you have a gluten intolerance. Apart from being packed full of plant-based protein, fibre and a whole host of nutrients, it has a useful stickiness when combined with water. In this case, it helps to create a soft dough with very little effort. But be warned – add too much and it ends up a sticky nightmare and you have to start again. So approach with great care.

Once baked, these dippers have a lovely savoury flavour; the sesame seeds on the top add an extra level of flavour. If you are sensitive to sesame, you don’t have to miss out. Use a neutral nut butter like cashew or even some olive oil. 

This recipe makes a modest 14-16 dippers. If you are catering for larger numbers, then just double or even quadruple the amounts and bake in batches. And add extra herbs and spices if you want to mix the flavour up.

I hope you give these a go. They are rather delicious and seriously moreish. Let me know how you get on.

Chickpea dippers (makes 14-16)

  • 150g chickpea/gram flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons tahini
  • 2 tablespoons fresh coriander/parsley (optional)
  • 4-5 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
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Sift the chickpea flour and baking powder into a bowl and add the salt. Stir together well to combine. Add the tahini and rub in with your finger tips to create a breadcrumb-like texture. Add the fresh finely chopped herbs if you are using.

Add 4 tablespoons of water. Stir in with a spoon at first, then use you hands as it starts to come together to form a stiff dough.Knead for a couple of minutes to makes sure everything is well combined and coming together. If it’s too dry, add a little more water but be very careful. This dough goes from being too dry to too wet very quickly! Leave the dough to rest for 10 minutes.

Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC. Place a silicon mat or piece of baking paper on the worktop. Sprinkle a little chickpea flour on it, then place the dough in the middle. Sprinkle some more flour on the top, then roll out to a rectangle approx 1 cm thick. 

Transfer the dough to a non-stick baking sheet by turning the silicon mat over the sheet and carefully peeling the mat away. Lightly dampen the dough surface with water and sprinkle the sesame seeds over the top. Mark out 14-16 sticks with a knife then bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes or until firm and golden. 

Remove from the oven, transfer to a cooking rack and leave to cool completely. Finally, carefully cut the chickpea dippers out following the marked lines and trim the edges. Keep in an air-tight container for up to 5 days.

Friday night rainbow savoury pancakes

Friday night dinners have to be quick and easy, just because it’s Friday, really! Rainbow pancakes are ideal as they are super tasty and don’t take much time to make.

So what was used from the veg box? One of the carrots (I’m gradually making my way through them), a handful of chard and then the cherry tomatoes, not for the pancakes but roasted on the side – oh and they tasted sublime!

For the sharp eyed, you’ll notice there is an interloper in the veg ingredients – I snuck in some sweet potato, not just for the gorgeous colour but to use as a binding agent. Once steamed and puréed, sweet potato goes a little gloopy, and works brilliantly helping to hold everything together in gluten free plant based recipes. They also contribute towards the texture and can be added in surprisingly well to a variety of recipes – anyone tried my sweet potato chocolate brownies…..?

The other key ingredient in the pancakes is the flour – for this particular pancake I’ve used chickpea flour (otherwise known as besan or gram flour). I first discovered this flour when living in India, and find myself using it more and more, simply because it’s amazing! First it has a strong flavour so contributes a savoury taste. It’s packed with minerals, particularly magnesium, B vitamins and is a great source of protein and of course fibre. Finally, it’s gluten free and really adaptable for all sorts of recipes. Don’t try to lick the bowl though, as it tastes pretty foul when raw!

To finish off the dish, I made a spinach and walnut pesto sauce as it needed a little something on the side, and that’s what I had in the fridge!

So give this a go – it takes about 20 minutes in total if you already have some sweet potato pureé to hand. Enjoy!

rainbow pancakes
Rainbow pancakes

Rainbow savoury pancakes
1 cup chickpea flour/besan/gram flour
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
pinch salt
200ml water
1 medium carrot, grated
2 small sweet potatoes, steamed and mashed
handful chard
handful parsley, chopped
salt and pepper
cherry tomatoes
olive oil
First, heat the oven to 180ºC, place the cherry tomatoes still on their stems into a baking tray with a splash of olive oil and pop in the oven to roast for 15 minutes or so.
Wash the chard and separate the stem and leaves. Finely chop the stem and put to one side. Place the leaves into a frying pan and dry fry for a couple of minutes to remove some of the water. Leave to cool.
Whilst the tomatoes are roasting, make the pancakes. Place the flour, turmeric, baking powder and salt into a bowl and mix together well. Add most of the water to make a thick batter. Stir in the sweet potato, chopped chard stems, chopped chard leaves, grated carrot and parsley and mix together really well until everything is combined. Add a little more water if needed. Season with salt and pepper.
Heat a drop of oil in a pan and dollop 2-3 spoonfuls into the middle, spreading it out to make a large pancake. Cook for a couple of minutes until starting to brown, then flip and cook the other side. Slide out onto a warm plate and repeat until all the mixture is used up.
Cut each pancake into fours, then serve with the roasted tomatoes and some pesto or sauce of choice.