A traditional foodstuff of Argentina and Uruguay is Faina – a flatbread with notes of pepper made from chickpea flour. It’s related to the Italian flatbread Faranita.
A great gluten-free option for cheese boards, fainá can also be served with toppings, though is traditionally served as an accompaniment to mozzarella pizza(muzza). It is typical to have a slice of muzza, with a slice of faina on top, and this is called pizza a caballo (pizza on horseback). It brings back memories of being teenagers in Uruguay and going to our local Pizza Bar to have some pizza a caballo.
The only special ingredient that you might not see at your local supermarket is the Chickpea or garbanzo bean flour. Chickpea flour or besan is made from the ground pulse. Popular in Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi cuisine, the gluten-free ingredient is a delicious alternative to plain flour. Use besan as a batter, a tasty thickener in soups, or a binding agent for fritters and meatballs. It can be found at most health food stores.
- 2½ cups garbanzo bean flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 7 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese (optional)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups water
- 4 small chorizo sausages, or 1 large
- 1 cup shredded fresh spinach leaves
- 4-6 ounces crumbled blue cheese
- Whisk the garbanzo bean flour together with the salt, 3 tablespoons olive oil, parmesan cheese, and a generous amount of ground black pepper.
- Whisk in 1¾ cups of water until well mixed. Set aside for about a half hour, to let the flour absorb some of the water.
- Remove the casings from the sausages and roughly chop the sausage. Cook the sausage in a skillet until well browned, adding a tablespoon or so of vegetable or olive oil if they are sticking. Remove sausages to a plate lined with paper towels to cool.
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. When it is hot, place the remaining 4 tablespoons of olive oil in a 12 inch pizza pan, and heat in the oven until very hot.
- Stir more water into the batter if necessary, until the batter is just thin enough to pour. Carefully remove hot pizza pan from oven, and pour batter into the pan. It should make a thin (about ¼ inch) layer. Place in the oven and bake until fainá is just golden and crispy (about 8-10 minutes). Remove from oven and top with sausage, spinach and crumbled blue cheese. Return to oven for a few minutes longer, until the blue cheese starts to melt and the spinach is just wilting.
Go ahead have a go at making it and comment below to tell us your thoughts
Chau abuelas Silvia and Graciela