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Vibrant early-spring veges at their best (Photo: Ginny Grant)
Vibrant early-spring veges at their best (Photo: Ginny Grant)

KaiSeptember 18, 2019

Recipe: Quinoa chickpea pancakes with spring vegetables and harissa tahini

Vibrant early-spring veges at their best (Photo: Ginny Grant)
Vibrant early-spring veges at their best (Photo: Ginny Grant)

Covering Climate Now: As part of The Spinoff’s commitment to Covering Climate Now, the food section has gone vegan. Today, a delicious recipe to herald the arrival of spring. 

The Spinoff’s participation in Covering Climate Now is made possible thanks to Spinoff Members. Join us here!

Roman-style vignarola has great appeal at this time of year. I’m loath to call it a spring vegetable stew as that sounds somewhat dull, and this is anything but. It’s an amalgam of spring greens – think zucchini, artichokes, peas, asparagus, lettuce, broad beans and the like, braised with good olive oil, and just enough liquid (wine or water) to tease out the sweetness in the vegetables. It’s adaptable to what you have and its impreciseness is also its beauty. Add the ingredients in the order of cooking times. I usually add the peas and broad beans for only a few minutes to keep a little vibrancy in both the colour and texture. It’s good for a fridge clear-out, and while I usually add mint to the mix, parsley is growing rampantly at the moment so this is what’s in the recipe today.  It’s also delicious thrown through pasta with plenty of lemon zest and juice, and a vegan pesto wouldn’t go amiss either.

It’s a fridge clear-out that was also responsible for the bastardised farinata or chickpea flour pancake. I have a terrible habit of cooking far more quinoa than I need and so decided to throw it in to the chickpea batter. The pancakes can be a bit tricky to get right – a heavy pan such as cast iron is ideal, although I have made these in non-stick pans too.

This recipe is vegan and gluten-free.


Serves 4 as a meal

For the harissa tahini

  • ¼ cup tahini
  • 1 tablespoon harissa (depending on how hot your harissa is, you may need to adjust)
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • ¼cup water

Combine the tahini with the harissa, lemon zest and juice and loosen with around ¼ cup water.  Season to taste with salt and set aside.

For the quinoa chickpea pancakes

  • 1 cup chickpea flour
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
  • pinch chilli flakes
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil plus extra for frying 
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa

Whisk together the chickpea flour with the water, salt, cumin, chilli flakes, baking powder and olive oil until smooth. Allow the mix to sit for an hour so the flour is fully hydrated, then add the quinoa. 

Heat a heavy-based pan (or non-stick) over a medium heat and add some oil. Ladle in a small amount of batter and allow to cook until you see bubbles forming and the edges beginning to crisp. Turn over and cook for a couple of minutes. Remove and keep warm while you cook the remaining batter.

For the spring vegetables

  • 2 cups frozen broad beans
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 spring onions, cut into 5cm lengths 
  • 3 zucchini, sliced into rounds
  • 1 baby cos, cut into wedges
  • ½ cup white wine or water
  • 2 cups frozen peas
  • chopped parsley or mint 

Pour boiling water over the broad beans, then remove the grey coats and discard. Set aside the beans.

In a wide pan, heat the oil, add the onion and cook slowly until soft, then add the spring onions, zucchini and cos and fry gently, seasoning with salt.

Add the wine or water, cover the pan and cook for 10 minutes or until soft, then add the peas and broad beans, cover again and cook for a few minutes. Add the herbs, taste for seasoning and serve with the pancakes and harissa tahini.

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