I spent a lot of my teens and twenties rolling my eyes over people's "concerns" about whether I was getting enough protein in my diet. And let's be honest—a lot of people who question whether you're getting enough protein as a vegetarian are trying to imply that not eating meat is wrong, that you're unhealthy, and that really, you should just go eat a hamburger because you probably don't know what you've been missing. Right? We all know those people.
However! As I reached my thirties, I came to realize that it really is important to get enough protein each day (something we've posted about here and here)—and it's not enough to just be getting protein, you need to get protein from a variety of sources so you get the amino acids you need.
Whole Protein Vegetarian by Rebecca Miller Ffrench is a cookbook based around this idea. By eating plant-based meals with legumes, nuts, grains, and greens throughout the day, you'll get the protein you need and you'll cover all your amino acid bases. The recipes in this book are simple, full of fresh ingredients and packed with flavor (and protein, naturally!).
These Spinach and Chickpea Spoon Fritters are in the snack chapter, but we had them as a main dish for dinner with steamed green beans on the side. They're almost like falafel, so they'd also be perfectly at home nested inside a warm pita with lettuce and diced tomatoes, then drizzled with the Creamy Cilantro Avocado Sauce.
- ⅔ cup chickpea garbanzo bean flour
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon ground coriander
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup water
- ¼ cup yellow onion chopped
- ¼ red Fresno pepper seeded and minced (reserve the remainder for the sauce)
- ½ cup cooked or canned chickpeas drained
- 3 heaping cups fresh baby spinach
- 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro leaves
- Aroma-free coconut oil for frying
Creamy Cilantro Avocado Sauce
- 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
- ½ avocado peeled
- ¼ cup fresh lime juice
- ¾ red Fresno pepper left over from the Spinach and Chickpea Spoon Fritters
- 2 tablespoons canned coconut milk
- ⅓ cup water
- ¼ teaspoons kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Put the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, cumin, coriander, salt, and ground pepper in the bowl of a food processor and pulse several times. Add the water and process until combined. Add the onion and Fresno pepper and pulse several times until combined. Next, add the chickpeas, spinach, and cilantro and pulse again until incorporated into the batter, but be careful not to overprocess. You don’t want the leaves to become minced.
- To fry the fritters, heat 2 to 3 inches of coconut oil in a deep skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Using a tablespoon, drop spoonfuls of the batter into the hot oil and fry for about 2 minutes on one side and one more on the other. When the fritters are golden, remove them from the oil with a slotted spoon and transfer to a paper towel–lined plate. Test one first to make sure it is cooked through. If not, lower the heat slightly and cook for another minute or two. Serve with Creamy Cilantro Avocado Sauce.
Creamy Cilantro Avocado Sauce:
- Put all the ingredients in the food processor or a blender and process on high speed until smooth. Add more water or seasonings (salt and pepper), if necessary. Serve with the Spinach and Chickpea Spoon Fritters.