Hyper-Local Foodie: Foraged Mesquite Pancakes
When you think of mesquite, barbequing may be the first thing that comes to mind. And understandably so - mesquite wood is often used to add a smoky sweetness to grilled food. Mesquite flour, on the other hand, is ground from the pods of the mesquite tree, and has sweet, nutty, caramel-like flavors. The flours we use are most commonly made from cereal grains such as wheat, rye, and barley. These grains all contain varying amounts of glutenin, a protein that is commonly referred to as gluten. Gluten gives dough its elastic qualities and is especially important for leavened dough because it allows gas bubbles formed by the leavening to be trapped. The dough stretches as the bubbles grow and the resulting effect is dough that rises well and bakes into something light and airy.
Mesquite contains no gluten which why it works best when mixed with wheat flour. You can substitute up to one third the flour in a recipe with mesquite flour for added flavor and nutrition. Given mesquite's naturally sweet flavor, you may also be able to reduce the amount of sugar or other sweetener used in baking.
Mesquite is high in protein, low on the glycemic index, and a good source of soluble fiber, meaning it digests relatively slowly and does not cause spikes in blood sugar. This gluten-free flour is also a good source of calcium, iron, lysine, manganese, zinc, and potassium. It's a great in pancakes, cookies, smoothies, and as a thickener in stews. Here's a recipe to get you started:
Mesquite Pancakes with Simple Fruit Syrup
1 c all-purpose flour ½ c mesquite flour (if unavailable you can substitute blue corn flour or whole wheat flour) 3 ½ tsp baking powder 1 tsp salt 1 tbs sugar 1 ¼ c milk 1 egg 3 tbs butter, melted and cooled slightly 1 recipe Simple Fruit Syrup
- In a large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients until well combined.
- Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add milk, egg, and butter. Mix until smooth.
- Heat lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium-high heat. Add batter ¼ cup at a time for each pancake being careful not to overcrowd. Cook until small bubbles form around the edges, then flip and continue cooking about a minute longer until golden brown.
Simple Fruit Syrup
2 c fresh or frozen fruit, such as apples, pears, peaches, plums, mango, bananas, pineapple, cherries, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, or any combination (chopped if necessary) 1 tsp butter ¼ c pure maple syrup or agave syrup 1 tbs apple, orange, or lemon juice ½ tsp cinnamon ¼ tsp nutmeg or cloves
- Heat butter in over medium heat in a sauce pan. Add fruit and cinnamon and sauté until beginning to soften and release juices, about 5-10 minutes depending on fruit.
- Remove from heat and stir in syrup. Serve warm over pancakes or cooled over yogurt topped with granola.
Note: You can also substitute dried fruit for some of the fresh or frozen fruit. Some good combinations are 1 ½ c apples with ½ c cranberries, 1 ½ c pears with ½ c raisins, 1 c bananas with 1 c blueberries, or 2 c mixed berries.