Leek, Cucumber and Emmenthal Flan

The ingredients in this flan are so unusual. There’s the crispness of the water chestnuts, the softness of the leeks, and the sweetness of the pineapple. Mix them all together and they work quite brilliantly. This dish is perfect for the weekend, served at lunch or supper time with a large salad.

I hadn’t used chickpea flour for a flan base before, but it’s the perfect choice if you’re gluten intolerant or coeliac. Find nutritional information at the end of this post, along with my final result!

Serve this flan with my Sunflower and Coriander Pesto. It’s grub-tastic! Find the recipe here.

You will require a 20cm (8 inch) flan dish and a 24cm (9½ inch) lidded saucepan.

Serves 6

200g / 7oz chickpea (gram) flour, sifted
100g / 4oz unsalted butter, cubed and put in the fridge until required
2 tbsp sunflower oil
200g / 7 oz leeks, trimmed and finely sliced
1 fresh red chilli pepper, trimmed and finely chopped
1 fresh green chilli pepper, trimmed and finely chopped (I removed the seeds in the green chilli)
½ medium size cucumber, diced
100g / 4oz tinned water chestnuts, drained
100g / 4oz tinned pineapple chunks, drained
100g / 4oz Emmenthal cheese or Gruyère
Salt and black ground pepper

Heat the oven to 180°C / 350°F / Gas Mark 4

1. Rub the butter into the sifted chickpea flour with your fingertips until it is light and crumbly, then add approximately 4 tablespoons of water to make it into a soft dough. Form a ball shape, wrap in clingfilm, and allow to rest in the fridge for 15 minutes.

Then butter the quiche dish and put to one side.

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emm182. Place some kitchen roll in a small bowl and put the diced cucumber on top and fold over, allowing any excess liquid to soak up. Mix the pineapple chunks and water chestnuts together and repeat this procedure in a separate bowl. Leave to soak until required.

3. Once rested, roll the pastry out onto a lightly-floured surface and rolling pin, into a circle shape a little larger than the base of the dish.  Line the flan dish and trim any excess pastry from around the edges.

NB. I found the pastry quite difficult to lift onto the flan dish, even though I used plenty of flour on the rolling pin, and also on the wooden chopping board. So much so, that I ended up turning the flan dish upside down onto the rolled-out pastry, and turned the whole thing over, removing the chopping board once the flan dish was the right way up again. Sadly I was on my own at the time, so there’s no photographic evidence of said manoeuvre!

4. Line the pastry with kitchen foil, weight it down with baking beans (I used rice) and bake it blind for 10 minutes.

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5. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a non-stick saucepan and gently cook the leeks and chilli for 5 minutes or until they are beginning to soften. Add the cucumber, cover the pan and sweat the vegetables for 10 minutes then add the drained water chestnuts and pineapple chunks.

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6. Spoon this mixture into the flan case then lay the slices of cheese over the top.

7. Bake the flan for a further 20-25 minutes just to melt and brown the cheese.

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8. Remove from the oven and grind over some black pepper. Serve warm or cold with salad.

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FINAL RESULTVery flavoursome indeed! I’m not a big fan of sweet and savoury but these ingredients worked surprisingly well together. The chickpea pastry base was fairly crumbly, more so than your usual pastry, but it tasted very good nonetheless. You do need to use a knife and fork to eat this flan, so perhaps not the best food to take on a picnic, unless you take cutlery with you of course!

HOW LONG DID IT TAKE? The whole process, including preparation time (weighing ingredients etc), plus cooking time was about 1¾ hours – but that did include a chat with my mum on the phone – so let’s say about 1½ hours in total! You could easily save time and make this on a week night. Just get all the ingredients ready the night before, cover them with clingfilm and store in the fridge. Go on, give it a try!

Nutritional Facts of Chickpea Flour

Eating more chickpeas and chickpea flour is a great way to increase your intake of fibre. And because they’re such a high source of fibre, many studies show that eating more chickpeas, and pretty much all types of legumes, can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, obesity, diabetes and even some types of cancer.

Chickpeas also offer a good array of vitamins and minerals. For example, they’re thought to have calcium and magnesium in an ideal ratio, a very high amount of folate — which is essential for a healthy pregnancy — good dose of energizing B vitamins like vitamin B6 and a decent amount of heart-healthy potassium. They even contain some of the powerful antioxidant mineral selenium, as well as iron and plenty of plant-based protein.

This recipe was adapted from ‘The Everyday Wheat-Free & Gluten-Free Cookbook’ by Michelle Berriedale-Johnson.

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