Farinata, panelle, cecina, torta di ceci, socca, fainè... along with numerous other names across Italy, is that wonderful chick pea pizza—of sorts—that I discovered years ago and have been stirring up ever since, topping it with sometimes the craziest mixtures of seasonal roots shoots flowers 'n fruits...
A treat for the eyes, nourishing, satiating on all levels—as well as, yes, gluten free—there are few dishes anywhere near as easy to throw together—well, there is one hitch: you have to make the batter up at least 8 hours in advance.
Had my friend Andrea over the other day—vegan she be—for a "video shoot" : don't throw those citrus peels away (soon to be on your favorite youtube channel), wanted to feed her a hearty lunch, though one not too involved, and ended up with this very colorful "holiday" farinata variation that we both literally scarfed down. (Check out Andrea's blog : my vegan parisian adventure)
a WINTER FARINATA - serves 6 - 8
300 gr | 10 oz chickpea (garbanzo bean) flour—the finer and fresher, the better
750 - 900 ml cold water
Couple generous pinches unrefined sea salt (to taste)
4 - 5 tBsp extra-virgin olive oil
Coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 medium-sized carrot
1 small Chioggoa or golden beet
1 small red onion
2 generous handfuls chervil leaves
1 small bunch Swiss chard, leaves and ribs (pick your color)
||| ||| Place the chickpea flour in a large bowl. Make a hole in the center and gradually add the water, whisking from the centre outward with each addition until incorporated. Be careful not to let any lumps form. Stop adding water once the batter leaves a slight veil on a wooden spatula when dipped in (or is similar to the consistency of melted ice cream). Skim off the foam that forms on the surface. Cover with a kitchen towel and set aside in a warm place for 6 to 12 hours depending on the chill in the air. Stir from time to time.
||| Stir in the salt to taste, 40 ml of olive oil, and a bit more water if the batter has thickened up a bit too much. (Getting the "just right" consistency might take a time or two. There's no “exact” portion of water, rather a “right” consistency… that comes only with practice. So don't despair !)
||| Steam the Swiss chard leaves in a thin film of water in a large covered skillet for 1 - 2 minutes, until just beginning to wilt. Drain immediately (any cooking juices left... pour into a small glass and have yourself a shot of vegetable concentrate). Coarsely chop the leaves. Slice the ribs very thinly. For the carrot and beet best to use a mandolin, as you'll want to slice them paper thin (a very generous heap or two of each). Slice the onion lengthwise and very thin (a generous heap will do).
Transfer the vegetables and chervil to a bowl and lightly coat with a few drizzles of olive oil. Season to taste with sea salt (or slightly under-season sot hat when you take the farinata out of the oven you can sprinkle on some good coarse artisan sea salt).
||| Preheat the oven to at least 240 ˚C (475 ˚F), if not hotter.
||| Heat a seasoned 40-cm (20-inch) or similar cast-iron skillet (or glass or ceramic baking dish, of any form, as long as equivalent in size) in the oven for a couple minutes. Pour in the remaining 50 ml of olive oil, tilting to evenly coat the bottom and lower sides of the pan. Working quickly, give the batter a good final stir and pour at once—gently—into the center of the pan. It will sizzle and start to set almost immediately. The batter should be no more than 1.3-cm |(1/2-inch) high. Stir the top slightly to distribute the oil evenly over the surface. Sprinkle the vegetables on top. Bake in the oven on the middle rack for 15 – 20 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the edges crisp and coming away from the sides.
||| Give a few generous twists of the pepper grinder, and a pinch of two of fleur de sel or coarse sea salt, if desired. Cut into wedges and eat while piping hot.