Italian chickpea flatbread with broccoli and mushrooms: source of vegetable protein
Time: prep 2-3 min
cooking 30 min
Difficulty: very easy
Yield: 2 servings
Since I discovered it not many years ago in Turin, I cook it regularly almost every week. Some say it is a great alternative to classic omelettes, I would add “even better”. It has a low environmental and economic impact; we can even afford the ones with gluten free and the organic labels (I mean chickpea flour), it goes with everything, satisfying and satiating a lot; plus it is rich in protein, which makes it a surprising alternative to animal products, and if you don’t exaggerate with oil it is very healthy. Finally, cooking it does not require any gastronomic skill, then very suitable for beginners. However, this fabulous dish of humble origins requires a minimum of organization: about 5-7 hours of soaking process. It is possible to evade this process; some people reduce it to just 30 minutes, always obtaining an edible product in the end. Nevertheless, in my opinion, after having tried and tasted both results, I can definitely recommend the longest way, in terms of digestibility and consistency.
1 cup of chickpea flour
2 cups of water
1,5 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
thyme, sage, rosemarin (optional)
The process is very easy, as said, the chickpea porridge could be prepared by a person who has never cooked before.
Put the flour in a large bowl with high edges, add the water slowly, always stirring. Try not to create lumps, salt, pepper, flavoured with sage, thyme, laurel and add the oil; leave the container in a sheltered place and covered with a cloth, which you will open occasionally to stir with a wooden spoon, so as to keep it always homogeneous: in the case of quick preparation the problem does not exist; while for the ‘long’ version you have two options, either prepare it on Sunday (or when you have time) and stir 2 times every 2/3 hours (prepare more so as to freeze several portions once cooked), or stir it only at the last one, does not make much difference.
Once the soaking phase is over, (if it is very hot, five hours will be enough), stir well one last time and pour the contents into a previously generously oiled baking tray, and large enough not to have a dough that exceeds 1-2 cm in height. Bake for about 20-30 minutes at a temperature of 250°C in a ventilated oven. In the case of a static oven, set the temperature to maximum and reduce the cooking time by 5 minutes. Or when you don’t really want to turn on the oven, use a large pan with high edges and a lid. The pan should always be well oiled first, then cook over a gentle heat. You have to wait for the flatbread to become thick and stiff before flipping it, otherwise it will be painful! Don’t be impatient, you’ll see that the time will come to turn it upside down without you making a mess. It will take you 30-35 minutes to complete the cooking.
It takes very little to make this dish a vegan alternative, just eliminate the cheese. You might not put it in at all or replace it with nutritional yeast mixed with almond flour, the taste is very close to it.
Smart combos: chickpea, mushrooms, broccoli and cheese
In the version of the photo, I used 100 grams of sliced champignon mushrooms, 200 grams of boiled broccoli and pan-fried them with a clove of garlic and half a tablespoon of oil, and 10 grams of flakes of matured cheese for each servings.
Serve the chickpea flatbread, accompanying it with a plate of salad, dressed with lemon juice. This will not only liven up the taste of the dish, but also make its non heme iron content more assimilable, thanks to the antioxidant effect of the citric acid present in the lemon, which helps to solubilize the metal in the duodenum(*).
Enjoy your meal and good revolution to all
(*): Teucher B, Olivares M, Cori H. (2004). Enhancers of iron absorption: ascorbic acid and other organic acids. International Journal of Vitamin and Nutrition Research 74(6):403-419