Healthy, Gluten-Free Pea Flour Crepes & Pea Flour Tagliatelle with Arugula Pesto

NOTE
Our 3-day Italy workshop in Gradara, in the beautiful countryside along the northeastern coast, is almost sold out! 2 people have not fully confirmed, but if they do, the workshop will be officially fully booked. If you are interested in attending, shoot me an email right away! Check this link for all the info about it.

In order to get to Venice, the train must run a long, narrow strip of tracks that cross the Adriatic, so that it seems to hover – almost glide, directly above the bright blue water.
It would most remind me of that strip of highway across Cape Cod, all the way to Provincetown where the ocean waters hug you left and right, were it not for the disturbance of the chemical plantations that scar the scenery of Marghera, on the proximity of Mestre.
On those 3-and-a-half hour ride from Gradara, where I live, to the Serenissima, one gets plenty of time to think. 

I have always been bitten by wanderlust, longing for the bustling chaos of cities. As I uneasily grew used to the quiet countryside, crowded trains became for me an enjoyable diversion from the ordinary. When you are alone with several other people, your own loneliness starts to acquire a whole different meaning. 

And yet I was visiting Venice and my loneliness was about to be lifted by the sweet presence of Zaira, who welcomed me in her heart and her home and never really let me go. And, as both country dwellers who are still city lovers, unlike many other cities we both agree that Venice is best enjoyed empty – even a little cold and foggy. When I visited the floating city in January, the mist carpeting the water turned it into a wet watercolor painting, and the steps echoing through the unusually empty ‘calle’ blinked an eye to its mysterious, otherworldly past.

But it is now springtime, and spring finds us wandering through a place turned a tourist trap, bustling with more people that it can handle, endless lines, and restaurateurs trying to lure you into their businesses and feed you bad food.
Alas, such is beauty: mischievous as it may be, we are always willing to put up with it if we get to smell the blooms of its perks.

Healthy, Gluten-Free Pea Flour Crepes & Quick Pea Flour Tagliatelle with Arugula Pesto | Hortus Natural CookingVegan Arugula Pesto | Hortus Natural CookingCountry Home in Veneto, Italy | Hortus Natural Cooking

I realize I need to be away from the countryside to fully enjoy its beauty and, even better, I need to be away from Italy to thoroughly enjoy its culture and people. In June, I will be heading to Boston, then to my beloved New York to host a one-day workshop with Kelima K’s bridal atelier, which will be centered around Japanese food, a huge passion of mine, and I couldn’t be any happier (email me for info!).  Sometimes you just need a break.

And such breaks could not be more momentous: on that train ride, as I stopped over in Bologna for a mid-morning cappuccino while waiting for the next train, I once again stopped to think what home really was to me.

That moment, I realized how lucky I am to have people like Zaira in my life. She lives, breathes and inspires beauty, without overthinking anything. In those times that I dwell for too long in my own thoughts, I look to people like her.

I look at her, and I am reminded that Italy is all about the enchantment of the Tuscan countryside she speaks so fondly of, of the hundreds of varieties of local honeys and cheeses, of the genuinity of our local farmers. It is all about the grandness of our indigenous produce, the views above the Mediterranean, the impossibly huge and perfumed lemons with skin so thick you can use it as a vessel for sorbetto. It is all about the warmth of the people who, albeit careless, loud and with a penchant for tardiness is the most fun to be at a party with. 

Country Home in Gradara, Italy | Hortus Natural CookingHealthy, Gluten-Free Pea Flour Crepes & Quick Pea Flour Tagliatelle with Arugula Pesto | Hortus Natural CookingHealthy, Gluten-Free Pea Flour Crepes & Quick Pea Flour Tagliatelle with Arugula Pesto | Hortus Natural Cooking

So, on that train that is exactly like the Italian temper – hot, loud and not very efficient, I long to take Zaira back with me to the countryside for the next few days.

And warmth is coming again. After all, who could be let down by the Italian countryside in the springtime? 

Not even a city lover like me.

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Today’s recipe is inspired by all the overwhelming greenery that has covered the hills and fields like a thick coat of paint.
I am continuing with my experiments with vegan and vegetarian low GI, PCOS friendly recipes using ingredients like legume flours. After the re-discovery of lupin beans and lupini flour, pea flour was next in my list of things to try. Crepes are a total no-brainer to make and easy to transform into many recipes. I made them with fresh eggs from our very own hens (I realize it is quite a luxury to have access to fresh eggs every day!), but I tried out a vegan version if you prefer to avoid buying eggs.

For a quick, gluten-free version of tagliatelle, I transformed these emerald green crepes into a ‘fake’ pasta dish that turned out much better than I expected. So here’s your trick to make tagliatelle in 10 minutes flat without the extra effort! HA!
One day though I will make a serious post about gluten-free pasta, I promise.

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A NOTE ABOUT THE COLOR: you might notice from the photos that two of the nests are more of a faded green, while the other is bright emerald green. The bright green batch was made using pea flour alone, with no rice protein. If you want to keep things pretty and super green, just substitute the rice protein with more pea flour.

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PEA CREPES
(Makes 12 – 10 crepes)

2 large eggs
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, plus more for cooking
2 cups / 500 ml unsweetened almond or soy milk
230 g pea flour
20 g sprouted brown rice protein powder (or more pea flour for a brighter green)
Pinch salt

Break the eggs in a large bowl and beat them lightly with the olive oil and a fat pinch of salt, using a whisk or a fork. Whisk in the milk, and whisk until the eggs are blended in. Add the pea flour a little at a time, whisking constantly to avoid lumps. Let the batter rest in the fridge for 30 minutes. If when you take it out of the fridge the batter seems too thick, add a little more liquid. The batter should be quite loose, looser than pancake batter.
Lightly oil and heat a 10″ or 11″ (26 or 28 cm) nonstick pan on medium heat.  Add about 1/4 cup batter, then swirl the pan to thinly coat the bottom with batter (so add enough batter to cover the bottom evenly). You should get 12-10 crepes.
At this point, you can use them as you would any savory crepes, stuff them and eat as a wrap, or use in recipes like these Asparagus Spring Crespelle.

PEA CREPES – VEGAN VERSION
(Makes 8 – 10 crepes)

1 tablespoon ground flax seeds, plus 2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, plus more for cooking
230 g pea flour
20 g sprouted brown rice protein powder (or more pea flour for a brighter green)
500 ml unsweetened almond or soy milk

For the vegan version, mix the ground flax with the water and mix well. Let stand for a few minutes, until the flax turns gooey, much like the consistency of egg whites. Follow the same procedure as above, but start with the flax egg instead of the regular eggs.

Healthy, Gluten-Free Pea Flour Crepes & Quick Pea Flour Tagliatelle with Arugula Pesto | Hortus Natural Cooking

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‘FAKE’ QUICK PEA TAGLIATELLE

These turn out best with the crepes with eggs. To make the ‘fake’ tagliatelle out of the crepes, loosely roll each crepe into a cigar, then cut strips about 1/4 inch (1/2 cm) thick. Unroll them and set aside while you prepare the condiment. You can dress them with any sauce you would normally use for pasta (try this 3 Tomato Garlic Sauce!)

A NOTE FOR THE VEGAN VERSION: While the version with eggs worked out splendidly, I cannot say the same for the vegan version with a flax egg. If you want to make the tagliatelle, I do recommend you either substitute 20g of the pea flour (or the whole rice protein) in the batter for some regular flour, or add 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum to the mix to keep things gluten-free. Still, they are great as regular crepes to be filled!

Healthy, Gluten-Free Pea Flour Crepes & Quick Pea Flour Tagliatelle with Arugula Pesto | Hortus Natural Cooking

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ARUGULA & PISTACHIO PESTO {Vegan}
(Makes about 1/2 cup)

2 cups (60 g) arugula
1 cup basil, or mix of basil and parsley
50 g pistachios (mix in walnuts and almonts to make it a little cheaper)
3 pieces of dried tomatoes preserved in olive oil
1/2 tablespoon capers, rinsed and squeezed
2 tablespoons oil from the dried tomatoes
(optional) 1 ~ 2 garlic cloves
1/2 cup extra virgin oive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt (more or less to taste)

Add all the ingredients except the olive oil to a food processor and process until a rough paste forms. Add the olive oil a little at a time, so that the pesto gets creamier. If you want a lighter pesto, use only half the oil and process it with a little water (like the water from cooking pasta – if you do this and the pasta water is salted, omit the salt in the recipe).
Use to dress the ‘fake’ tagliatelle, or any kind of pasta.

 Vegan Arugula Pesto | Hortus Natural Cooking

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