Chef, author and food truck entrepreneur Avi Shemtov has seen the healthier future of French fries – and they’re made with nutrient-rich chickpeas instead of potatoes.
Shemtov, the chef and owner of Greater Boston’s beloved Chubby Chickpea food truck who recently shed more than 60 pounds as part of his own quest for a healthier lifestyle, added chickpea fries to the Chubby Chickpea menu this summer.
They’ve been a monster hit for the popular 7-year-old food truck. And now longtime champion of the chickpea Shemtov hopes other chefs and restaurateurs consider adding chickpea fries to their menus as a healthier alternative to traditional French fries.
“The reality is that potato-based French fries are loaded with fat, cholesterol and carbs and they’re not a great source of protein,” said Shemtov. “And that’s a problem for today’s health-conscious consumer.”
Chickpeas, however, “are a gluten-free superfood packed with protein, fiber, iron and antioxidants,” said Shemtov. “More importantly, they make DELICIOUS French fries.”
Shemtov did not invent the chickpea fry concept. Substantially similar dishes are served in Italy as panelle and in France as panisse. Falafel is also a form of fried chickpeas and is one of the staples of Chubby Chickpea’s menu of inspired Israeli and Middle Eastern street food.
But Shemtov’s chickpea fries are different and so is his vision for them. Most notably, other forms of fried chickpeas take various shapes and are typically served on their own as an hors d’oeuvre.
Shemtov’s chickpea fries look just like traditional French fries and are meant to serve as a replacement for them. They can be cut into narrow string fries or thick steak fries, depending upon your personal preference (recipe below). The piping hot chickpea fries are crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, just like your favorite fast-food French fry.
Slather your chickpea fries in ketchup, mayo, or hot sauce, or pile them high beside your favorite tailgate party protein, including Chubby Chickpea’s own delicious Buffalo chicken shawarma with house-made tahini sauce or Greek yogurt.
“Our chickpea fries are really just traditional French fries made from a more nutritious food source,” said Shemtov. “I’d encourage other chefs to substitute potato-based fries with chickpea fries to offer their guests a healthier alternative.”
You can taste chickpea fries today (Thursday) at the Chubby Chickpea food truck on Stuart Street in Boston’s Back Bay across from the Hancock Tower, Friday at Trillium Brewery in Canton, Mass. and Saturday at Night Shift Brewery in Everett, Mass.