This month we've been mixing up dinner by taking it in turns to make healthy alternatives to our indulgent favourites. It's been such a good way to try out new recipes, get us cooking for each other every night and to discover healthier (but still delicious!) ingredients. And after a little comfort eating blip (I'm blaming the referendum results) over the past couple of days, it's back onto the healthy eating with my favourite recipe from the experimenting so far - homemade chickpea flour pasta with chicken, peas and cream cheese.
We've tried healthy calamari, low carb pizza and stuffed sweet potatoes but this is easily my favourite recipe. I've never made pasta at home before, it's always seemed like a ridiculously hard thing to do and we don't have a pasta maker, but this recipe is so simple that it's nothing to be scared of at all!
There are quite a few benefits of swapping normal pasta for chickpea flour (or gram flour) pasta, not only is it completely gluten free it's also high protein, high fibre and low in carb. It's also really cheap to make and goes such a long way, it's basically the dream. Give it a go, I promise you'll love it!
(serves 2, for more people just double or triple the quantities - the pasta is always 100g to one egg)
Prep time: 20 mins
Cooking time: 5-10 mins
For the pasta
- 200g Chickpea flour
- Extra chickpea flour for dusting surfaces and adding if necessary
- 2 medium eggs
For the recipe
- 2 chicken breasts (cooked)
- Peas (as few or as many as you wish)
- 2 tablespoons of low fat cream cheese
- Flat leaf parsley for topping (if you fancy)
- Salt and pepper
- Measure out your chickpea flour into a large bowl, if you don't have measuring scales 100g of flour works out at around 3/4 of a cup to make it nice and easy. Create a well with your hand in the middle of the flour.
- Crack in the eggs one at a time, then fold in the eggs to the flour, I use my hands but a fork or wooden spoon works fine. But you'll need to get a bit messy to knead it anyway!
- Knead the dough for a few minutes until it's all combined and a lovely rich yellow colour, if it's quite a sticky mixture dust your surface with more flour and work into the dough. You can't over work the dough as there's no gluten to develop, easy peasy.
- I've found it works best by taking half of the dough at a time, shaping it into a square shape with your hands and then rolling it out into a long, rectangle shape with a rolling pin. No need for a pasta maker! Make sure to have extra chickpea flour on hand to make sure the surface is well dusted to avoid sticking.
- Once your dough is around a millimetre thick, you're ready to cut! Bring a pan of salted water to the boil as you prepare the pasta, make sure the water is quite salted as the pasta itself isn't.
- Cut it into long strips using a sharp knife and lay it on a floured baking tray or chopping board to one side. You could also create pasta shells, bows or ravioli but this is the easiest version I've tried so far.
- Repeat with the other half of the dough, or alternatively put in the fridge or freeze the dough to have another day if you feel like you have enough already.
- Add the fresh pasta to the boiling water and cook for 2-3 minutes (it should be served al dente), then drain and put to one side while you prepare the rest of the dish.
- Heat a pan with a little coconut oil and add the frozen peas, cook until just thawed, then add in the cooked chicken, sliced thinly.
- Once heated through, add in the cream cheese and stir in - I used two mini pots of low fat Philadelphia because I do pretty anything to avoid extra washing up.
- Add in the salt and pepper to taste, then the cooked pasta and mix together. Serve and add the parsley to the top (and cheese if you fancy!) to finish. This whole process should only take around 5-10 minutes so it's a really quick meal to prepare.
I absolutely love this recipe and it will be a firm fixture in our diets for the foreseeable future, it's too easy and tasty not to be! I've read quite a few recipes online for chickpea or gram flour pasta, some which add in loads of other ingredients, but this version is the simplest and easiest version I've tried and have stuck to.
If you're not sure where to find chickpea flour, don't be, it's surprisingly easy to get your hands on in standard supermarkets. Chickpea flour (or gram flour) is used in a lot of Indian cooking (pakoras are next on my list to try out!) so it's usually not with the flours, but more likely to be found alongside the rice and poppadoms. I discovered this after wandering around the aisles of Tesco like a very confused thing. If you're ordering your shop online, search for 'gram flour' instead as chickpea flour is less likely to return results. I used this flour which is only £1.29 for 1kg (or 10 portions) so it's a super cheap ingredient.
This pasta is really versatile so you can pretty much make any of your favourite recipes with it, no need to stick to this one. Let me know if you have a go at making it, I'd love to hear what you think!