Monday, March 24, 2014

Chickpea Crackers with Za'atar and Maldon Salt

Do you ever have those days where it feels like your cupboards are completely bare and there is nothing in the fridge besides condiments, a couple of beers and some limp vegetables, but the mere thought of grocery shopping is completely out of the question? 
Well... that was me this past weekend. It was cold and I was hung over as hell and had no intention of leaving the house for any reason whatsoever.  I decided to challenge myself to make some snacks and come up with dinner based on whatever I had kicking around the kitchen.  Now, keep in mind I am not one of those people that stockpiles soup, casseroles and meat in the freezer, so I can have dinner ready at the drop of a hat.  Take a peek into my freezer and you will find a large bottle of Bombay Sapphire, flax seed, a giant jar of walnuts and some spelt flour.  So, pulling something out of the freezer for dinner wasn't really an option.  Staring bleary eyed into the cupboard for what felt like 30 minutes, I was finally able to get my brain to work and figure out what I was going to make as a snack to accompany the beer I had in the fridge.  Sure, I could have just whipped up a bunch of popcorn and called it a day but I figured if I wasn't going to leave the house, I should be somewhat productive and make something fun.

Weeks ago while riding my stationary bike I came across a recipe for these chickpea crackers with zaatar spice.  Of course I told myself to write down the name of the blog AS SOON as I got off the bike.  Did that happen? No, of course not. I found a big ass jar of za'atar and a large bag of chickpea flour in my cupboard and spent a good 20 minutes searching for the recipe.  Fortunately, I had everything on hand to make them and got to work!

Chickpea Flour (also known as gram flour, besan or garbanzo bean flour) is made from ground, raw or roasted chickpeas, commonly used in Indian or Pakistani cooking to make papadum (lentil wafers), and pakoras (vegetables fried in chickpea flour batter).  Chickpea flour is also used in Southern Europe to make an oven baked flatbread of sorts called Farinata (Italy) or Socca (France).  I've used this awesome flour to make besan ka cheela and socca with leeks and herbed almond spread, and now these delicious crackers that are vegan, gluten free and high in protein and fiber!

Making crackers from scratch can be a little labor intensive but the taste difference between store bought and homemade is like night and day.  The trick to perfect crackers is to roll out the dough evenly; If the crackers are too thick they will take forever to cook.. too thin and they will burn. 
These are great as is, but pairing them with hummus (chickpea madness!!) will give you a super healthy, protein rich vegan snack... and if you have everything on hand, you don't even need to leave the house!

Chickpea Crackers with Zaatar and Maldon Salt (makes 32 large crackers)
From Dolly and Oatmeal

2 cups garbanzo bean flour
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon fine grain sea salt
1/3 cup + 1-2 tablespoons warm water, plus more if needed
2-3 tablespoons za'atar 
maldon sea salt for garnishing

In a large bowl, whisk the garbanzo bean flour with the salt and baking powder until combined. using your hands, rub the olive oil into the flour to distribute evenly; about 2 minutes - make sure there are no large clumps.
Transfer the flour mixture to a food processor.  With the processor running, drizzle the 1/3 cup of warm water until the mixture comes together.  If your dough is still dry, add more water by the 1/2 tablespoon until dough ball has formed
Knead the dough for 5 minutes.  Divide it into two pieces and wrap each piece with plastic wrap. let it rest for 10 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350° and line two baking sheets with parchment paper

Prepare a flat work surface with two pieces of parchment paper.  place one piece of dough on top of one piece of parchment, wet your hands a bit and flatten the dough with your palm.  Cover dough with second piece of parchment and roll out to an 1/8-inch thickness with a rolling pin.

Trim edges and set scraps to the side, sprinkle with za'atar.  Use your rolling pin and roll over the dough once more to push za'atar into the dough's surface.  Using a pastry brush, lightly brush tops of crackers with olive oil, sprinkle with maldon sea salt.

Transfer the crackers to prepared baking sheets and bake for 18-20 minutes, rotating halfway through. Crackers will be lightly browned on the edges when done.  Remove from oven and let crackers cool.  Repeat with remaining dough.

Crackers can be stored in an air-tight container at room temp for up to 4 days.

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