Welcome to my new-found favorite treat… Farinata (fa ri na ta) ! Most of my friends are familiar with polenta crostini, pouring the soft, creamy mixture into a baking sheet, chilling overnight and cutting into squares to grill or fry. Farinata or Panelli, the Sicilian version, is made out of chickpea (garbanzo bean) flour. Chickpea flour, water, olive oil and herbs. Simple, beautiful, healthy, yummy.
Panelli is made similar to making polenta by simmering the chickpea flour and water until thickened, pouring into a baking sheet and chilling until firm. Panelli is then cut into squares and fried until crisp and golden brown in olive oil. Farinata is made in the oven in a cast iron skillet and cut pizza style into wedges. I will make both versions, but prefer the Farinata method as posted.
The texture has a salty crispy exterior and a light soft interior; almost pancake like in appearance. It is hard to detect the chickpea flavor as it is fairly bland. Therefore, seasonings of herbs and onions add to the flavor, as well as, toppings of chopped olives, sun-dried tomatoes, gorgonzola and/or grilled veggies. I enjoy it as a gluten-free pizza! It’s best served warm but I like it also made ahead and served at room temperature appetizer style.
Whisk together the flour, salt and water in a medium bowl until well combined and no lumps. Stir in the olive oil. Cover and refrigerate overnight or at least 4 hours. The batter should thicken slightly. Whisk to reblend before proceeding.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Heat a well-seasoned cast iron 10 or 12 inch skillet with 2-3 tablespoons olive oil. Add onion and sauté until soft, about 2-3 minutes. Pour in the batter allowing the batter to spread out evenly. Sprinkle on the rosemary and allow to cook for about 2 minutes. Place skillet in oven and bake for 40 – 45 minutes or until the Farinata is firm and the edges are set. Turn on the broiler to brown up the top for a few minutes, watching carefully. Remove from oven and allow to set a few minutes, then carefully remove the Farinata to a cutting board. Season with freshly ground pepper, drizzle on olive oil (optional) and cut into wedges. Serve as is or with additional toppings.
I love being in the kitchen. Early mornings, soft music, a hot espresso. Easing into the preparation of delicious meals. Glancing through cookbooks, gathering inspiration and planning my day. I look forward to the cycles of the seasons, the pleasures of tasting and savoring and sharing this with those dear to me. Weekends are special to me as my week days are often rushed, but still I create the ambiance, light the candles, set the table and uncork the wine.