Inspiration

Savory Pumpkin Chickpea Pancakes with Crispy Aleppo Chickpeas, Lemon, and Maple

pumpkin-apple

Normal people—those who do not fit squarely in either the “eat to live” or the “live to eat” categories but rather fall somewhere in between—enjoy going to restaurants. Savoring a meal that you didn’t have to make, perhaps in good company, is a universal pleasure. These normal people can appreciate a meal and think about it long after the waiter clears the dessert plates. Food musings are not reserved for the live to eaters.

Well, all of this is mere speculation because I am not normal. I am instead one of the group, an ever-growing population, of folks who can sit back and enjoy a nice meal out (again thankful that someone else labored over it for me) but who has the magnifying glass out. I don’t look for flaws; I’m not a critic or reviewer. I want to learn. I’ll pick apart a dish with imaginary tweezers to find within the creamy center: a flavor combination, a chef’s vision, a beating heart. I’d be a liar if I said that my own cooking doesn’t take inspiration from past restaurant meals; I think most would be if they affirmed the same.


yogurt pancakes
But while I take each meal to heart, I do not often try to “recreate” eaten dishes. I think that’s only because I want them to remain sacred. If I make something even a bit close to what I experienced at a favorite restaurant, my favorite restaurant will no longer seem like that secret-special hideaway where I can indulge in something I can’t at home. There is one exception: the easy version of the Flattened Za’atar Chicken from Oleana that I made. But I think I did this mainly because of the accessibility and the universal comfort factor of really well-executed chicken. I didn’t want to have to order this mainstay of the menu every time I went to Oleana, so I felt comfortable satiating my constant cravings for roast chicken, za’atar, and cheese at home.

spicy roasted chickpeas
Just about a year ago, I ate one dish, at Sarma, coincidentally a sister restaurant of Oleana, that provided inspiration. Mesmerized by some of the other small plates we sampled, my dining companions didn’t fall in love with this particular dish, but, for some reason, the memory of it stayed with me like a tattoo on the brain. They were pumpkin chickpea fritters, basically pumpkin panelle cut into beautiful Ottoman-shaped cubes and topped with a vibrant green cilantro sauce. These were a no-brainer for me given my love for chickpea fritters. What stuck with me was just how lovely chickpea went with the squash, which I suppose isn’t surprising since squash and chickpea spreads and a pretty rocking salad exist.

short stack
I didn’t want to remake the mezze plate I had at Sarma, but I have wanted to combine pumpkin and chickpea in an interesting way since that meal. And since the season is here, I decided to make these savory pancakes, which can be served as a small plate (all the rage), appetizer, or lunch with a green salad (or even as a savory breakfast). Since I do not enjoy pumpkin-spicing everything edible (and inedible) from August to December, I hope that this dish celebrates what pumpkin really is, a vegetable. Happy pumpkin days, all.

pumpkin chickpea

Savory Pumpkin Chickpea Pancakes with Crispy Aleppo Chickpeas, Lemon, and Maple

Makes about twelve 3-inch pancakes

I choose to cook the pancakes in coconut oil since I like to drizzle them with extra-virgin olive oil and I don’t want them to be too oily. Coconut oil does not produce a greasy pancake, but you can use olive oil or vegetable oil if you prefer. When I say “scant dribble” of maple syrup, I mean a very small amount—like a few drops per pancake. It goes nicely with the lemon and oil. This dish is not intended to be sweet. The pancakes are fluffier than socca but creamier than regular pancakes.

8 ounces (about 1 cup) cooked chickpeas
Extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
1½ teaspoons aleppo pepper
78 grams (about 13 cup) plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk
75 grams (about 13 cup) pumpkin puree
68 grams (about 23 cup) chickpea flour
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
38 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1 egg, lightly beaten
Coconut oil

Pure maple syrup
Lemon wedges
Full-fat plain Greek yogurt (optional)
Quick-pickled apples (optional and highly recommended)

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Toss chickpeas with 2 tablespoons olive oil and a generous amount of salt to taste on rimmed baking sheet and roast until golden brown and crispy on outside, about 25 minutes, shaking and rotating sheet halfway through roasting. (You want the outsides crispy, but you don’t want to centers to still be creamy). Place aleppo pepper in bowl. Immediately transfer chickpeas and any oil on tray to bowl with aleppo pepper and toss to coat; set aside. Shut off oven.

2. Meanwhile, whisk buttermilk, pumpkin, chickpea flour, olive oil, baking powder, baking soda, nutmeg, and ¼ teaspoon salt until combined. Add egg and whisk until just combined.

3. Heat about 2½ teaspoons coconut oil in 12-inch nonstick or cast-iron skillet. Place four 2-tablespoon scoops of batter in pan and cook until bottoms are golden brown and a couple bubbles on surface form and pop, about 2 minutes. Carefully flip pancakes with thin spatula and continue to cook until bottoms are golden brown, about 2 minutes. Plate pancakes right away or carefully transfer pancakes to wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet and transfer sheet to oven. (If oven is no longer warm, set to 250 degrees). Serve pancakes immediately with squeeze of lemon juice, drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, and scant dribble of maple syrup and garnish with crispy chickpeas and more aleppo pepper, if desired, and/or any other of the above optional toppings.

4 responses

  1. That looks soooooo good. You know I loathe the “pumpkin-spiced everything” just as much as you do, and I just hate that everybody is always covering up wonderful autumn flavors with cinnamon, nutmeg and such. Plus, Sacha, I adore that photo of the chickpeas in the bowl!

  2. I never really try to ‘recreate’ restaurant dishes as I don’t think I have the technical skills, but I often take inspiration from food that I eat when I’m out and about. This looks so incredibly delicious, just my kind of food :-)

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