Roman food, as the picture suggests, was a bit hands on - our favourite soldiers and senators didn't use cutlery very much, preferring instead to tuck in with their fingers and toes (ok, not toes) instead. That makes eating Lentil and Root Veg Mash a bit tricky, which is why we shall serve it with some lagana - a type of Roman flatbread.
Flatbread is great stuff - all you need is flour, water, and a hot surface. With no need for yeast or fancy ovens, this is the kind of bread which anybody, rich or poor, could eat. I'm making mine with Spelt flour, a type of flour used in Roman Britain. I know Spelt can be quite tricky to find though, so feel free to use whatever flour you can find.
- 100g Spelt Flour (+ extra for dusting)
- Prepare a work surface by sprinkling over some flour.
- Sieve 100g of flour into a bowl, and add just enough water to form a dough. Knead this by hand, adding more flour as necessary, until it is neither too wet nor dry.
- Divide the ball of dough into four equal pieces. Roll these one at a time until they are flat, disc-shaped, and uniformly thin.
- Add a drop of oil to a frying pan, and when it is hot enough, set a laganum in. As it cooks, it will start to puff-up in places as pockets of air are formed. When dark spots start to form on the underside, flip it over. Each side should take about a minute to cook. If needs be, press down on the top side to speed things up.
Despite being just flour and water, these lagana are great eaten straight out of the pan; the nutty flavour of spelt works wonderfully in this instance (in fact, it left my kitchen smelling vaguely of popcorn!) When eating with the mash, just rip a bit of bread off and use it to pick up some of the lentil & root veg goodness - it tastes good, and keeps your fingers nice and clean!