Exploring the pantry is like opening a treasure chest. It’s a trip around the world, too, when bringing together ingredients from near and far.
Chickpeas, or garbanzos if you prefer, are one of my favorite items to reach for. It’s that nutty flavor and smooth texture combination that makes hummus so yummy, a crunchy snack when roasted and pizazz to a salad. What are your pantry favorites?
These legumes are the same yet not the same. Did you know they come in 21 different colors? Turns out there are two kinds – desi and kabuli. Desi contains smaller, darker seeds and has a rough coat. Kabuli is larger, lighter in color and smoother.
Kabuli, commonly referred to as garbanzo or ceci bean, dominates the U.S. market. The pod generally contains just one seed with a very thin coat that can rip off quite easily. When rinsing a can of chickpeas, it’s the piece that sometimes comes off from the water pressure.
Desi chickpeas may be one of the earliest varieties because it resembles seeds found at ancient archeological sites. They’re mainly cultivated in India, East Africa, Mexico and Iran and may be referred to as Bengal gram, kala chana or black chickpea.
According to long-standing archaeological theory, they’re one of the Eight Founder Crops forming the basis or origins of agriculture, tracing its roots to the Fertile Crescent region of today’s southern Syria, Jordan, Israel, Palestine, Turkey and the Zagros foothills in Iran.
In case you’re curious, these are the eight: Three cereals – einkorn wheat, emmer wheat and barley; four legumes – lentil, pea, chickpea and bitter vetch; and one oil and fiber crop – flax or linseed. It’s worth noting there’s debate among scientists and scholars who believe there were more species than eight, but that’s a discussion for another day.
There’s agreement chickpeas originated in the Middle East about 7,500 years ago, first cultivated about 3000 BC and popular among ancient Romans, Greeks and Egyptians. 16th century Spanish explorers brought them to other parts of the world.
On April 10, it’s A Taste of Mexico: Wines & Cheeses with culinary icon chef and restaurateur Carlotta Flores, Charro Steak & Del Rey and Flores Concepts Corporate Executive Chef/Partner Gary Hickey, and husband-and-wife sommeliers Dale and Stephen Ott, for a deliciously fun evening. Enjoy two whites, two reds and eight Mexican cheeses part of Chef Gary’s charcuterie boards.
On April 12, beekeeper and sommelier Noel Patterson returns for the always popular What’s the Buzz – Honey Tasting. Like wine, cheese and chocolate, honey has joined the ranks as an artisanal obsession. You’ll explore and learn how flowers and terroir affect its characteristics. Noel will empower you to trust your senses and be less analytical in your approach to flavors. You’ll also learn the flora and exact Southern Arizona and world origin locations.
The April 23 Cooking with the Wildcats – Food & Football with Coach Ricky & LaMonte Hunley is sold out.
Because every mother deserves the best, we’ve created a unique Mother’s Day Afternoon Tea to indulge, spoil, pamper, and show your mom just how much you love and appreciate her. Getting dressed up and wearing hats is encouraged! The 1884 Savoy Opera House is the setting, along with live classical guitar music, and three yummy courses of finger sandwiches, scones and sweets.
On May 23, it’s Italian Wines and Small Bites Tasting with Chef Devon Sanner at his restaurant, Zio Peppe. Stay tuned for the details.
News & Notes
Huge news on Friday: TIME magazine released “The World’s Greatest Places of 2023,” and thanks in part to the city’s vibrant culinary scene, Tucson made the list of 50 destinations to explore, calling us “the soul of the Sonoran Desert.”
On April 4, restaurateur Sam Fox opens Flower Child, the “Healthy Food for a Happy World” restaurant at 2960 N. Campbell Ave. It’s adjacent concept, Doughbird, opens in a few weeks.
Three new eateries are expected to open next month at the American Eat Co. food court, 1439 S. 4th Ave. Two popular food trucks – Cowpig and Fatboy Santos – will join refresqueria Adis. The Coop, focusing on fried chicken, is Cowpig’s concept. Fatboy Sandos is bringing their Japanese-inspired sandwiches and sides.
April 27-30 it’s all about century plants at the 15th Annual Agave Heritage Festival. From free to ticketed events, there’s lots of check out and enjoy.
Wishing you joy in the kitchen,
Yield: A 10-inch flatbread
1 cup chickpea flour
½ teaspoon salt
¼ – ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 cup warm water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1. In a bowl, whisk flour, salt and pepper. Add oil to water, then whisk into flour until completely smooth. Set aside.
2. Put a 10-inch cast iron skillet in the oven and heat to 450°F. Once at temperature, remove and liberally grease skillet with olive oil. Pour in batter and bake 15 minutes until set and golden brown.
3. Remove from skillet and serve immediately.
Note: Consider experimenting with adding herbs or spices to the batter.