While Gnocchi is typically prepared with some type of potato, we found an intriguing method for a "version" of them when I was flipping through one of our newer cookbooks the other night. Instead of using potatoes, these Chickpea "Gnocchi" use garbanzo beans, otherwise known as chickpeas, instead!
Whether you use beans you cooked yourself or if you prefer to use canned, be sure that they are well-dried before you begin this recipe. You'll need about 3 cups worth, which we tossed into our food processor and blitzed them until they were well-mashed. This may take a few minutes, but just keep scraping down the sides and get them as smooth as possible. If you happen to be lucky enough and have a food mill, this would be a perfect reason to haul it out and run them through that instead!
To add a luscious quality, ricotta cheese is used to moisten and hold the chickpeas together, along with a healthy pinch of fresh grated nutmeg to bring a little unexpected note. Flour is worked into the chickpea mixture a little at a time - you want to end up with a dough that is workable, but just barely - it shouldn't be sticky, but you don't want it dry either. Start out with a quarter cup or so, then add just enough extra to get to that point - the flour is there to let the gnocchi hold their shape when they hit the boiling water. When you think the dough is ready, pinch off a small amount and test it in the water - if it holds its shape, you've added enough flour, if it disintegrates, work a bit more in.
When you go to form the gnocchi, you'll want to quarter the dough first to make it easier to handle. Roll each hunk into a long log and then slice each log into one inch chunky pieces. Because these are slightly more delicate than potato gnocchi, be sure to use a gentle hand and handle them as little as possible. Traditionally one would roll each piece down the back of a fork or a fancy gnocchi paddle to form grooves, but you don't need to do that with these.
After they were boiled, we tossed them into a skillet with a combo of butter and olive oil - we let them toast in the pan long enough to get a golden crust to the outside, while still keeping their creamy, tender interiors. All that was needed for us was a dusting of fresh grated Asiago cheese on top and we happily cleaned our plates. While they are not as pillow-like as potato gnocchi, these were not too dense or tough either - they just had a more hearty nature to them. Good as we served them, you could certainly treat them like regular gnocchi and toss them with sauce, a mild pesto, bake them into a casserole-style dish or even toss them into a slim pool of warmed butter to keep it simple!