Variety is the spice of life. That’s at least the mantra I try to follow when choosing recipes that use lesser known grains or even legumes to broaden the nutritional palette of my family’s diet. Sure, we all have our go-to dishes that are 100% fool-proof and always work, particularly when you are in a pinch. But it’s the new and unknown ones that are fun to experiment with, even more so, if your family is prepared to join you in this adventurous culinary journey. And that is how I came to try garbanzo bean flour. I knew green and dried chickpeas and had plenty of ideas on what to do with them, but stone ground chickpea flour? Cooking with that was news to me. Come and cook with us!
I found this recipe called farinata in an issue of Cooking Light. Taking a step back, let me try to explain that word: “farinata”. Farina is the Italian word for flour and a farinata is similar to a spaghettata which is what we hosted as youngsters when our parents went out of town and we invited all our friends over for a plate of spaghetti with tomato sauce … at midnight! With that in mind, while the farinata doesn’t necessarily require you to have a party, I was immediately attracted by the title as it brought back sweet memories of a fun youth in Italy. But I am getting carried away…
The flour used by the farinata is chickpea flour and it lends the base of this pizza-like dish. There is no yeast or kneading required, in fact, it’s only water, flour and a few herbs that get mixed and baked before the toppings are added and it is finished in the oven. I tried it several times, and it works beautifully. You can choose to top it with whatever is at hand; I tried a spinach, tomato and onion farinata and it turned out beautifully. Granted, the flour, whilst a very good source of protein and creamy in its taste, has a sweet, rich and slightly “beany” flavor, so one of my boys wasn’t too impressed but the rest of us loved it. Give it a try and let us know what you think!
PS: Our guest writer, Carmel Ireland, we’ll be back with another installment next week straight from New Zealand!