Italian Chickpea Flatbread

This recipe is an Italian dish known as Farinata (or Socca), a chickpea flour-based flatbread. There are a few different ways to prepare this, as it varies from region to region. It is recommended that the batter rest for up to 12 hours, and to use at least twice the amount of oil. Rosemary is a common ingredient, though I did use less than the suggested amount. I made a quick version, which may have altered the texture. This recipe is a work in progress.  It is best served warm or hot. If you’re gluten-sensitive, it’s worth experimenting with this very versatile and nutritious flour.

Ingredients

1 cup chickpea (garbanzo) flour
1 cup water
1 tablespoon olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon dried basil
¼ teaspoon crushed rosemary leaves (or to taste)
¼ teaspoon Italian seasonings
Black pepper—to taste

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Grease a 10-inch cast iron pan* (you can also use oven-safe stainless steel). Set aside. Put chickpea (garbanzo) flour into a medium-size bowl. Add water and whisk until smooth. Add remaining ingredients, and mix until well combined. Pour batter into greased pan. Bake in preheated oven until edges begin to brown, about 15 minutes. Remove bread from pan and cut into wedges (or as desired). Serve warm . Enjoy!

* Some recipes suggest heating the pan in the oven before adding the batter.

Benefits of Chickpea Flour

Chickpea flour, also known as besan, garbanzo flour or gram flour — not graham — is a wheat-free flour alternative made from lightly roasted, dried and ground garbanzo beans or chickpeas. Indian markets and/or health food stores are the best places to find this legume-based flour. It is high in carbohydrates and protein, contains some fat and is gluten-free. This nutrient-rich flour is a food source of many vitamins and minerals as well as dietary fiber.

Ethnic cuisines worldwide, from India to the Middle East to Italy to Provence, France, use chickpea flour. It is extremely versatile, in addition to being a nutrient powerhouse.

Basic Nutrition Value

Chickpea flour is loaded with vitamins and minerals. It is particularly high in folate or vitamin B9, thiamin or vitamin B1, vitamin B6, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, iron, copper and manganese. It is a good food source of other micronutrients, such as vitamin K and zinc. Few other flour substitutes, with the exception of soy flour, are more nutrient-rich.

Minerals and Dietary Fiber

A 100 g serving of besan meets 41.5 percent of the DV for magnesium; 24 percent for potassium; 32 percent for phosphorus; 27 percent for iron and 19 percent for zinc. The U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans reports that children, adolescents and adults in the US do not consume enough magnesium-potassium- and fiber-rich foods. The minerals are important for maintaining strong bones, regulating blood pressure, aiding in energy metabolism and muscle contraction. Dietary fiber promotes regular bowel movements. In addition, iron and zinc may be deficient in the diets of older Americans. Iron plays a role in transporting oxygen throughout the bloodstream. Both nutrients support a healthy immune system and zinc helps regulate blood sugar, promotes wound healing and performs other functions.

Uses Worldwide

Indian cuisine incorporates chickpea flour into more dishes than other cultures. It is used as a thickener and to make pancakes and fritters, such as chilla, an Indian “street” or fast food. In the Middle East, chickpea flour is an important ingredient for making falafel, deep-fried chickpea ‘balls.’ French Provençal chefs use chickpea flour to make socca, a pancake popular in Nice. Liguria, Italy is known for ‘panissa,’ a chickpea flour-based polenta. For vegan recipes, you can replace eggs with equal parts chickpea flour and water. If you do not eat it, you can wear it, literally. Indian women make a paste composed of besan and water or yogurt and apply it to their face as an exfoliant.

 

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