There’s a new tot on the block! Nuggets of cheddar cheese encased in a gluten-free chickpea crust and baked to golden perfection.
Tater tots – those small, cylindrical pieces of grated, fried potatoes – they’re almost as American as apple pie. In fact, tater tots are so well-known that many people don’t realize the term is actually trademarked by the Ore-Ida potato company, which is owned by Kraft. As with any foods that have a cult-like following, there are copiers, and in the healthy food blogging space these knock-offs include broccoli tots, cauliflower tots, zucchini tots, and sweet potato tots. But there’s a new tot on the block now. Allow me to introduce you to Chickpea Cheddar Tots! Nuggets of cheddar cheese are encased in chickpea flour dough, shaped into tots, and baked to golden perfection. Chickpea Cheddar Tots make a great, healthy, after-school snack for kids, and adults love them too, especially when served with cold beer!
Chickpea Cheddar Tots come together very quickly and bake up in 10 minutes. And, you don’t need a rolling-pin to make them. Use cheddar cheese sticks in this recipe if you can find them (similar to mozzarella/string cheese except made with cheddar), and this will make it easier to cut the cheese into 1-inch nuggets that are all approximately the same size. When forming the tots, it helps to roll them back and forth between the palms of your hands to compress the dough. This keeps the chickpea crust sealed during baking and helps prevents any of the cheddar cheese from leaking out. (Note, you may still have a few tots that leak a little bit of cheddar. Since chickpea flour does not contain gluten, it’s more fragile than gluten containing flours and is prone to cracking. Don’t worry if this happens, they’ll still taste delicious!)
Chickpea Cheddar Tots are best served warm from the oven with mustard as a dipping sauce. Honey mustard is great for kids, but adults who want more sophisticated flavor might enjoy a hot & spicy mustard or a specialty mustard like apple champagne mustard. This recipe yields 12 tots but can easily be doubled. Bake only what will be consumed right away and freeze the rest in a zip lock bag. Add 5 minutes to the cooking time if you are baking them frozen.
The main ingredient in Chickpea Cheddar Tots is chickpea flour, also known as garbanzo bean flour. I’ve been experimenting with chickpea flour for a while now and I continue to be amazed at its versatility for gluten-free baking. The best thing about chickpea flour, though, is how nutritious it is compared to traditional wheat flour. One cup of chickpea flour contains 21 grams of protein compared to only 13 grams of protein in one cup of all-purpose wheat flour. Even more impressive is the fiber content. Chickpea flour has more than 3 times the amount of fiber (10 grams versus 3 grams) than found in all-purpose flour. One can never have too many recipes for healthy snacks. The next time you have a snack attack, I hope you’ll bake up a some of these little babies to curb your appetite!
- 1¼ cups (150 grams) chickpea flour (also known as garbanzo bean flour)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- Pinch of pepper
- 1 egg
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 ounces of cheddar cheese, cut into twelve 1-inch nuggets
- ¼ cup mustard
- Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
- In a medium bowl whisk together the chickpea flour, ¼ teaspoon of the salt, baking powder, and pepper.
- In a small bowl mix the egg with 2 tablespoons of water. Add all but one teaspoon of this mixture to the chickpea flour, along with the olive oil, and stir until a soft, slightly sticky, dough forms.
- Pinch off 12 pieces of dough, about ¾ ounce each (roughly the size of a walnut - with its shell on), and roll into balls. Dust the counter or a wooden surface with chickpea flour and flatten the balls into circles 2½ inches in diameter. Place one nugget of cheddar cheese in the center of each circle. Fold up and pinch the sides together to fully encase the cheese. Roll the tots back and forth between the palms or your hands to compress the dough and use your fingers to form “tot” shapes. Place them on a parchment or silicone lined baking sheet.
- Brush the tops with the reserved egg mixture and sprinkle the remaining ¼ teaspoon of salt on top of each tot.
- Bake in the bottom third of the oven for 10 minutes, until golden brown. Serve warm with mustard. Makes 12 Chickpea Cheddar Tots.
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