My boys love bread. Most kids do. I quite enjoy bread myself, especially when it appears as a crusty baguette on the side of one of the many soups, stews, curries and chilis we are eating this time of year. It isn't an accident that curries are traditionally served with nan, chili with cornbread, and hearty minestrone with that crusty baguette. Crunchy likes smooth and smooth likes crunchy.
The minute I place that bread on the table, my boys devour it with nothing but small dunks into their main meal. Then they are full with nothing but baguette in their bellies. I could, and many times have, limited the number of pieces of bread they can have, but this lands us right in the age-old food struggle I try so hard to avoid.
So when a friend passed along this simple recipe for chickpea flatbread, I sprinted to the store to get the ingredients. The flatbread is packed with protein, so if my boys load up on it, they will also load up on many more nutrients than they would get from their customary bread.
These aren't time-consuming to make - otherwise I wouldn't be making them. I dump the ingredients in a bowl first thing in the morning, which takes a mere minute. That evening, I pour the batter into my skillet and within minutes I have chickpea flatbread, full of protein and gluten-free. It's an ideal after-school snack with hummus or salsa, or a tasty substitute for crackers.
Few flours are as nutrient-rich as chickpea flour, also known as besan, gram flour or garbanzo flour. Along with the protein, it is a reliable source of magnesium, potassium, fiber and B vitamins, especially folate. I am experimenting with what else I can create with it. Ideas welcome.
Makes one 10-inch flatbread or two 8-inch rounds (12 pieces)
To vary the flavor, try adding diced onion, garlic or different spices and herbs to the batter. If you use cake pans instead of a cast-iron skillet, make sure they can withstand the intense heat of a broiler. Chickpea flour is available at Mediterranean markets, on the baking aisle at Whole Foods Markets and on the natural foods aisle at other grocery stores.
MAKE AHEAD: The batter for these flatbreads needs to rest for a few hours at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator. Adapted from a recipe by cookbook author Dorie Greenspan.
1 cup chickpea flour
1 cup cool water
31/2 tablespoons olive oil
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary (optional)
Freshly ground black pepper
Combine the chickpea flour, water, 11/2 tablespoons of the oil, the salt and the rosemary, if using, stirring until smooth. Cover and let the mixture rest for at least 2 hours, or refrigerate it overnight.
When the batter is ready, position an oven rack 4 to 6 inches from the broiler element. Place a medium cast-iron skillet or two 8-inch round cake pans on the rack; preheat the oven to 500 degrees.
Remove the hot skillet or pans from the oven. Pour in the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil and swirl to coat (or do the same using 1 tablespoon for each cake pan).
Return the skillet or pans to the oven for a few minutes to heat up, then pull them out just long enough to pour in the batter, spreading it in the skillet or dividing it between the pans and spreading it in an even layer. Bake for 5 minutes; the flatbread will look set and will pull away from the pan's edges a bit.
Turn on the broiler (leaving the flatbread in the oven); once it's going, broil the flatbread for 3 or 4 minutes, until slightly charred. For even browning, you may want to turn the skillet or pans.
Immediately sprinkle with the pepper to taste. Carefully dislodge, letting the flatbread slide onto a cutting board. Cut into wedges and serve right away.
Per piece: 60 calories, 2 g protein, 4 g carbohydrates, 5 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 125 mg sodium, 0 g dietary fiber, 0 g sugar