I’ve never had shrimp scampi.
But I love the idea of it.
Or rather, I love the ideas of it.
A Classic of Countless Interpretations
For being a classic Italian dish, shrimp scampi has about a billion variations. Breadcrumbs, no breadcrumbs, serve with pasta, or not, use lemon, add tomatoes, don’t do either…!
When a dish is that open to interpretation, for me, it’s really just an invitation to get super creative.
And since usually, here in the US, shrimp scampi doesn’t even have scampi in it—something I just learned, scampi is actually the crustacean Italian cooks traditionally used in this dish, but immigrants to the US adapted the recipe to use shrimp instead—well that just means that for my variation on shrimp scampi, I can use “scampi” in my recipe title, and completely take the meat out.
So that’s what I did.
Plant-Based Scampi: My Interpretation
Fried chickpeas take the place of the shrimp or scampi in my dish. For a touch of tradition, the chickpeas are cooked with lemon juice.
And then I use breadcrumbs.
Decadent Panko Breadcrumbs with butter, garlic, (there’s that hint of tradition again!), and fresh herbs.
Use Earth Balance Buttery sticks in place of the butter to keep my plant-based scampi vegan, or use gluten-free Panko to keep it gluten-free.
Make Plant-Based Scampi!
Make my plant-based scampi as an appetizer, or serve it over or alongside a light pasta dish, like my Lemon Garlic Pasta with Spinach, for a delicious spring or summer meal.
My chickpea scampi may not be super traditional, but then again, how many scampi dishes are? 😃
To add a bit more nutrition and decadence to my chickpea scampi, I use nutritional yeast.
Packed with cheesy, nutty flavor and protein (1/4 cup has 8 grams of protein!), the nutritional yeast in these chickpeas adds great flavor, texture, and complements the lemon beautifully.
Plant-Based Chickpea Scampi
For the chickpeas:
- 3 15 oz cans chickpeas, drained
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed (plus more for finishing the dish)
- ¾ tsp sea salt
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
For the breadcrumb topping:
- ¼ cup unsalted butter, cut to small cubes (use Earth Balance Buttery Sticks to keep this dish vegan)
- ⅓ cup fresh parsley, minced
- ¼ cup fresh cilantro, minced
- 3 Tbsp scallions, minced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ tsp sea salt
- 2 cups Panko breadcrumbs
- 2 Tbsp freshly ground Parmesan, optional, omit to keep vegan
Fry the chickpeas
- To a large skillet, add the drained chickpeas, lemon juice, sea salt, garlic powder, and nutritional yeast. Cook over medium heat until the moisture is completely gone from the pan, and the chickpeas turn a golden brown, about 10 minutes.
- Note: The nutritional yeast will make the chickpeas stick to the bottom of the pan, so be sure to flip the chickpeas every so often.
- Take the chickpeas off the heat, and set aside.
Make the breadcrumb topping
- To a medium-sized mixing bowl, add the cubed butter/Earth Balance, parsley, cilantro, scallion, garlic, salt, Panko breadcrumbs, and Parmesan, if using.
- With a fork or clean hands, mix it all together until everything is evening disbursed, and the butter/Earth Balance cubes break down and coat the herbs and breadcrumbs.
Bake the chickpea scampi
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Oil your baking dish. This recipe can be made with a glass 9x9 inch, 8x8 inch, or even a standard-sized 10 inch pie dish.
- Layer the chickpeas evenly in the bottom of the baking dish.
- Now scatter the breadcrumbs evenly over the top of the chickpeas.
- Bake at 375 degrees for 10-15 minutes, until the breadcrumbs are golden brown.
Serve and enjoy!
- Remove the chickpea scampi from the oven, and squeeze a little bit of fresh lemon juice over the top, if desired. Let the dish cool for 10 minutes, then serve.
- This chickpea scampi is great as a side to a light pasta dish, like my Lemon Garlic Pasta with Spinach.