The history of flatbreads is a fascinating journey into ancient origins of food and thanks to researcher, Antonella Pasqualone, of Italy, I can tell you that Flatbreads originated in Mesopotamia in ancient Egypt and were possibly the first processed food. The map below comes from her research and is indicative of how flatbreads have reached nearly all corners of the world.
In spite of their ancient origin, these very traditional breads are still produced and appreciated in the same areas and have now spread to other countries after the modern migration of people. These breads have fitted well into the context of a subsistence economy since ancient times and are baked in vertical ovens, on griddles, or these days, via modern automatic baking lines.
Flatbreads are exactly that – flat. They are always relatively thin, ranging from a few millimetres to a few centimetres in thickness. This aspect, makes them easy for packing and travelling, which is partly why nomadic tribes, favoured them. And when food is scarce, they are relatively easy to make.
According to Pasqualone, ‘the production steps of flat breads are not different from those of more voluminous breads: kneading of ingredients (flour, water, salt, sometimes little amounts of fatty ingredients, with or without yeast according to the specific bread type); leavening (which may be absent); shaping (by pouring the batter on a griddle or by sheeting and eventually punching the dough); and baking.’ (p.12).
If you don’t feel like making your own flatbreads before you add this healthy filling, then see if you can source some locally or use pita bread instead. These are a form of flatbread too.
If you are stuck for nourishing and flourishing lunch ideas, or you or your family members want to refuel after exercise, then this Mediterranean Bean Flatbreads recipe from the MyMT™ Kitchen is right for you.
Mediterranean Bean Flatbreads (makes enough for two people)
- Falafel (I bought some organic falafel from the store and just heated it up, but you could make some if you have the time and energy)
- 1 can of cannellini beans or butter beans
- 2-4 cloves of garlic
- 1 cucumber, diced
- 1 packet of cherry tomatoes, chopped in half
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 2-3 tbsp olive oil
- Any fresh herbs you want to add, such as mint, basil or parsley
Flatbreads (if you can find non-processed flat breads or pitas at your local store, then feel free to buy these instead of making them)
- 1/3 cup Greek yoghurt
- 2/3 cup self-raising flour (and extra flour for dousing onto your flat surface)
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tbsp olive oil
This recipe requires a bit of multi-tasking, so I have laid it out in an order which should make it easier and faster.
- Place the cherry tomatoes, cucumber, lemon juice and olive oil into a bowl and leave to marinate while you do the cooking.
- Flatbreads: Mix the flour, Greek yogurt, salt and olive oil together. Don’t worry if the mixture seems a bit too wet, as then you will need to douse a flat surface (either a bench or a chopping board) with lots of flour.
- Pull a small clump away and kneed it into a ball in your hands. Then roll it out on the flour using a rolling pin. The flatbread should be thin, but still easy to transport in your hands to the pan. If you find it is too sticky, add 1 tbsp flour to the mixture and start rolling again. The mixture should make three large flatbreads.
- Heat the pan on medium – high heat with a dash of olive oil. Once the pan is hot, put the first flatbread in. Each flatbread should need approximately 2 minutes of frying on each side, but monitor them as it will differ depending on how hot your stove is.
- While the first flatbread is cooking, place a dash of olive oil as well as the garlic into another pan on medium heat. Fry for 2 minutes (until fragrant) and then add the beans. Fry for another 10 minutes until the beans are cooked through. Add the beans to the salad mixture, and top with fresh herbs.
- Serve as a wrap, or as a salad with the flatbreads on the side. Bon appetite!
Pasqualone, A. Traditional flat breads spread from the Fertile Crescent: Production process and history of baking systems. Journal of Ethnic Foods,
Volume 5, Issue 1, 2018, Pages 10-19, ISSN 2352-6181