The Joys of Chickpea Flour…and Lucini

Chickpea Frittata with Pesto

Since going gluten-free three and a half years ago, I’ve had a longstanding love affair with polenta. It’s been a sensual substitute for bread on many an occasion.  Sometimes I’ll bake it in a lasagna pan, then slice it into squares and sautee it in olive oil, the perfect companion to eggs or sausage.  There’s also the whisked on the stove top version which results in a creamier rendition, sort of like a very thick hot cereal.  I love using a yellow, puffy cloud of it as the perfect underpinning to a juicy pork chop or crispy piece of roast chicken.

So when I came across a bag of Chickpea Frittata mix in my supermarket’s gluten-free section, I was intrigued.  Chickpea flour was the only ingredient, and all the instructions asked is that I mix the 8.8 ounces of flour with 3 cups of water, 2 tablespoons of oil, and some salt. The simplicity drew me in, but the brand name sold me. Lucini.  Makers of my favorite olive oil and tomato sauce.  All their products are organic and have a wonderful, clean taste.  Their extra virgin olive oil is pungent and deep emerald, but I also adore their lemon-tinged olive oil which is infused with real lemon essence, not a fragrance. Lucini’s jars of tomato sauce have taken starring roles in gluten-free pasta dinners and steaming bowls of my tomato soup, which I sometimes morph into cream of tomato with the addition of room temperature chevre. A few turns of the whisk, and viola, a velvety cream of tomato without the cow dairy.

But back to the chickpea fritatta. I’d just made a batch of pesto the day before which was aching for a purpose.  Since I love polenta topped with pesto, I decided to give this a whirl and let’s just say the results were DIVINE!  Unlike polenta, there was no gritty texture to these heavenly triangles of warm, yellow dough.  The consistency was as creamy as a cheesecake, but with the substance of a soft bread…kind of difficult to describe – you’ve just got to experience it for yourself.

The cool thing about my newfound gastronomic love is that it tastes amazing, and is SO much healthier than most other flours because of its protein and fiber content.  Check Lucini’s site for store locaters, or order online.  You won’t be sorry.  http://www.lucini.com/shop/cinque-e-cinque-traditional .

As I said, the recipe for the chickpea frittata is simple.  It can be topped with a good marinara, some fresh herbs and olive oil, a mushroom sauce….just about anything you’d put on toasted bread or pizza.  I highly recommend homemade pesto because it’s basil season and plentiful at farmers markets.  I have no formal measured recipe for it.  Good pesto is a matter of texture.  You need a base of fresh leaves, enough olive oil to make a paste, several cloves of garlic for flavor, and grated peccorino for flavor and further texture.  Here’s how I make it, you can play with this version and change ratios as you see fit.  I usually add more oil at the end because I like pesto to be nice and liquidy rather than chunky.  It was the perfect topping to a piping hot slice of chickpea frittata this morning. And needless to say, gave me more than enough energy for a DDPYOGA Strength Builder workout.

Stacey’s Homemade Pesto

1 generous bouquet of fresh basil from the farmer’s market

1 bottle Lucini Extra Virgin Olive Oil

4 large cloves garlic, peeled

1 tub of grated Peccorino Romano Cheese

1/2 lemon or t tablespoon bottled lemon juice

Pick leaves from stem and place in a food processor.  You may need to grind them in shifts and not add all at once in the beginning. Add garlic cloves, 1/3 cup of cheese, and about a half cup olive oil, or enough to make a paste out of the leaves.  Pulse for 20-30 seconds at a time until well blended.  Add more leaves if there are any until all the leaves are blended in.  You may need to alternately add more oil and cheese, depending on how pungent you want the flavor to be and how liquidy you prefer your pesto.  Pour into a serving bowl and add the juice from half a lemon or the tablespoon of bottled juice and stir thoroughly.  Serve immediately.  Cover tightly and refrigerate any leftovers.

Bon Appetit!

Fresh out of the oven…

A fitting crown to a delicious carb

…we really liked it