Cheesy Chickpea Omelets

October 11, 2021
3 Ratings
Photo by Bette Blau. Prop Stylist: Brooke Deonarine. Food Stylist: Sophia Loche.
  • Prep time 25 minutes
  • Cook time 10 minutes
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

The kitchen is low on supplies, you’re too hungry to go shopping, and ordering takeout is expensive. Make an omelet! But there aren’t any eggs—what now? Grab chickpea flour instead. Also known as garbanzo bean flour, it’s the base ingredient for Ligurian farinata (or socca) and Provençal panisse, as well as Burmese tofu and some iterations of South Asian chilla and papadum (the latter three typically call for a specific type known as besan or gram flour). Not only does chickpea flour work as a nutty (and gluten-free and protein-rich!) replacement for all-purpose flour in baking, when mixed with liquid and a bit of baking powder, it forms a smooth batter and sizzles into a distinctly omelet-like concoction—for less than a quarter the cost of a dozen eggs.

For four omelets, you’ll need 2 cups of chickpea flour ($1.60) and 2 cups of water, which whisk up into the consistency of a loose pancake batter. To channel a bit of salty-eggy flavor and boosted color, stir in nutritional yeast and smoked paprika as well. Falling somewhere in between a dosa and American-style omelet in flavor and texture, I fill chickpea omelets with a gooey, stringy, wallet-friendly cheese, like smoked Gouda, Pepper Jack, or Muenster ($3.40). (If you want this meal to be vegan, swap in your preferred vegan cheese and use maple syrup instead of honey in the salad dressing.) I like to chase the soft, rich omelets with a crunchy-bitter salad of radicchio and fennel ($5) dressed in honey, mustard, and apple cider vinegar, but if you have another side in mind, follow your heart. Could you go the diner breakfast route and opt for hash browns? Yup. Frenchify it with a lemony-shallot dressing over tender greens? Bien sûr! What about frozen sweet potato fries and ketchup? Duh. Since the omelets run you just about $5, you have plenty of wiggle room. —Rebecca Firkser

Test Kitchen Notes

Nickel & Dine is a budget column by Rebecca Firkser, assigning editor at Food52 and chickpea flour enthusiast. Each month, Rebecca will share an easy, flavor-packed recipe that feeds four (or just you, four times)—all for $10 or less. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 2 cups (185 grams) chickpea flour
  • 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 radicchio head, quartered, cored, leaves separated
  • 1 fennel bulb, halved and thinly sliced, reserving any fronds
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more for serving
  • 6 ounces smoked Gouda, Pepper Jack, or Muenster cheese, grated (about 2 loosely packed cups)
  • Flaky sea salt, for serving
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the chickpea flour, nutritional yeast, baking powder, paprika, and 1 teaspoon salt. Slowly whisk in a scant 2 cups of water. Set aside for 10 minutes or up to 1 hour to thicken.
  2. While the chickpea mixture is resting, in a large bowl, whisk together the vinegar, mustard, and honey. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then toss in the radicchio and fennel until well coated.
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until rippling and nearly smoking. Swirl the oil around the pan, then immediately pour in ¾ cup of batter and again quickly swirl to coat the pan. Cook undisturbed for 1 minute, until the omelet turns matte in color and slides around the pan easily. Cover the surface of the omelet with one-quarter of the cheese (about ½ cup loosely packed). Cook for 30 seconds, until the cheese is just starting to melt, then use a spatula to fold the omelet in half. Cook 1 minute more, flipping halfway through, until the cheese is melted and the omelet is golden, then slide onto a plate. Repeat with the remaining olive oil, batter, and cheese to make 3 more omelets. (These taste great at room temperature, but if you prefer to keep the cheese melty, place the cooked omelets on a sheet pan in a 300°F oven until you’re ready to eat the whole batch.)
  4. Drizzle the salad with more olive oil, toss to combine, and divide among the plates, then sprinkle the omelets and salad with flaky salt and more black pepper.

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