Mesquite Flour: What is it and How to Cook With It
After maca and açai, it's time for another lesser-known superfood hailing from North America: mesquite.
Besides being a superfood, the red powder that is mesquite flour has a very special flavour and aroma: a heady mix of cocoa, molasses and hazelnut.
What is mesquite?
Mesquite is a plant (Prosopis glandulosa) that grows mainly in the United States and Northern Mexico.
The red flour which is used in cooking is obtained by grinding the plant's seeds, contained in a pod similar to that of the peas or carob. Not only does the special flour have a characteristic flavour and unmistakeable aroma it also has extraordinary nutritional properties.
Mesquite pod flour is also so specialist and particular it is included in USA Slow Food's Ark of Taste
Why Eat Mesquite?
Mesquite powder has many proteins (about 17%), all digestible, is rich in magnesium, calcium, potassium, iron and zinc and also contains lysine, an essential amino acid.
Despite the sweet taste it also has a low glycaemic index and a high fibre content. And last but not least, it is gluten free, making it a fantastic choice to replace flours that contain gluten for those who are coeliac or intolerant to gluten.
Blending all those cinnamon, coconut, cocoa and hazelnut aromas (which otherwise might translate as 'too good to be true') makes mesquite obviously great to use in desserts. Being completely free of gluten, it's also suitable for any gluten free recipe.
Mesquite flour can be substituted in part for 'classic' flour in recipes, although it's best not to substitute it completely, for fear of the flavour overwhelming the other ingredients. Also, because it doesn't contain gluten, it's impossible to make it into a dough.
Image: David Lebovitz
The most popular mesquite recipes on the web are for baking recipes like David Lebovitz's chocolate chip cookies: Here is the recipe for chocolate and mesquite cookies.
The simplest idea for mesquite flour, but no less effective, is to put a tablespoon or two of mesquite into smoothies, or in tea or coffee to add texture and flavour. Here are some more ideas for using the mesquite in the kitchen.
The most original idea? Put a spoon of mesquite flour into your stew or chilli recipes or with meat accompanied by slightly spicy sauces. The combination, with a distinctly chocolatey taste, as taught by the Mexican school of cuisine, will be extraordinary.
More than ever before, flour is definitely no longer just flour. It’s important to know what type of flour is best suited to any baking you might be doing, whether this is down to the type of grain used to make the flour or the quality of its texture. When it comes to texture, 00, double zero or doppio zero flour is the prime example. Hailing from Italy, this super fine white flour is used to make pizza bases and pasta. Find out more about double zero flour here.
Self-raising flour should be in every self-respecting baker’s store cupboard, but can you make your own simply by adding a leavening agent to leftover plain flour? Check out our tips on making your own self-raising flour. Another gluten-free flour, chestnut flour is incredibly versatile and adds a nutty sweetness to your baking, both sweet and savoury. Here are some great chestnut flour recipe ideas.
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