Farinata

When it comes down to it, the impoverished have traditionally been the ones who really know how to eat. Their food, free of fussiness and pretension, devoid of extravagance, is food that is real:  just basic, wholesome ingredients, prepared simply and humbly, prepared from necessity, crafted out of thrift. Food pared down to its very heart and soul. It is this sort of food that often happens to be the most satisfying, the most heart warming, the most nourishing sorts of food. The kinds of things you crave when you are truly hungry, when your spirit is hungry.  Poor man’s food. 

Farinata is just that – simple, wholesome, hearty – a sort of pancake or unleavened bread, made of chickpea flour, oil and water,  started on the stove top in a large cast iron skillet, and then finished in the oven.  It is a specialty of Genoa, where the fisherman  eat it for breakfast in the wee hours of the morning, before heading out in their boats for the day.

Traditionally, farinata is cut into wedges and adorned with rosemary, sea salt and a liberal shake of black pepper – or sometimes with crumbled gorgonzola dolce and a drizzle of olive oil. I’ve tried it both ways and can vouch for them both. I also have been known to top a slice with a chunky tomato sauce and a few torn pieces of mozzarella, place it under the broiler for a minute, and eat it like this, which I also quite like. The other night, I took it a step further and buried it under butternut squash from Kingsbury Market Garden that I roasted, marinara and torn bits of fresh mozzarella. It was the sort of meal that I think I might dream of if I were lost in the desert, starving. It was divine.

When I eat it, I like to imagine a grizzly bearded fisherman crouched over a little fire, pipe hanging lopsidedly from the corner of his mouth, cooking farinata for his breakfast in the predawn darkness. I like to imagine that he wraps what is left in a little cloth, slips it in his pocket, and eats it later out at sea with the salt spray on his face and his boat rocking with the waves. I can’t say why, but it tastes even better when I think of such things.

Farinata

Adapted from My Favourite Ingredients by Skye Gyngell. Serves 6. 

  • 1 cup (225g) chickpea flour
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped or 2 teaspoons dried
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • a few twists of freshly ground pepper
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil + 1 tablespoon for cooking
  • 1 cup (225ml) water

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place the chickpea flour into a bowl with the rosemary, salt and pepper and mix well. Make a well in the center and pour in the oil and water. Stir well until you have a smooth, thick batter. Let rest for 20 minutes.

Place a large cast iron skilled over medium heat. When heated, add the oil and distribute evenly over the pan. Spoon the batter into the pan and then use the back of the spoon to smooth it out into a circle about 8 inches in diameter. Let the pancake cook for a few minutes on the stove top, and then transfer to the middle shelf in your oven. Let bake for about 15 minutes, or until the top is golden brown.

Slide the farinata onto a plate and cut into triangles, like a pizza. Drizzle with a little extra oil, sprinkle with salt and garnish with some extra chopped rosemary to serve.

Comments

  1. I love your voice. I think I’d like to disappear into this world you’ve created and settle down with my own slice.

    You have such a wonderful knack for storytelling. I’ll be subscribing 🙂

    • Danielle Charles says:

      Thank you so much for your very kind words! Welcome to the blog and I hope you’ll come disappear into my little world often 🙂

      XOXO
      D

  2. Wonderful post, beautiful photos! I also love the idea of simple, tasty “peasant” food – it’s truly always the best. Looking forward to trying this recipe!

    • Danielle Charles says:

      Hi Kathy,
      I’m so glad you enjoyed the post, and I hope you’ll enjoy the recipe too! Thanks for commenting!

      XOXO
      D

  3. This looks fantastic, and you make it sound even better! What I love about “peasant food” is that it often seems so easy to make and comforting to eat. So much so that you wonder why we went away from that at all.

    Is chickpea flour widely available?

    • Danielle Charles says:

      Hi Samantha,

      I think you could find it at most health food stores or well stocked grocery stores. I usually get Bob’s Red Mill. Thanks so much for your comment – I couldn’t agree with you more about the ease and comfort found in these foods. I think we’d all be much healthier if we hadn’t strayed from them!

      XOXO
      D

  4. Delicious! I will definitely try this, it sounds so simple and wholesome. I love rosemary and salt on breads. It’s funny just last weekend a friend was saying he had dreamt of owning a restaurant called ‘Peasant’ that served peasant foods from around the world. Wouldn’t that be great?
    Happy Thanksgiving Love xxx

    • Danielle Charles says:

      I love it! What a genius idea. He has my full approval!!Tell him to go forth and make that happen 🙂

      XOXO
      D

  5. I do like your imagined grizzly fisherman. The farinata looks lovely too.

  6. This is really lovely — I can see him, I really can. And I agree that this probably tastes better flavored with imagination … but even if not, I bet it’d still be pretty darn good 🙂

    • Danielle Charles says:

      Hi Nicole,

      Thanks for your comment! I’m glad you can see him too 🙂 And you are right – imagination or no, farinata is definitely delicious!

      XOXO
      D

  7. Mmmm peasant food! I am so loving this recipe! Easy peasy and all the ingredients right in the cupboard! Thanks for sharing Danielle! xxx

  8. Thank you so much for your amazing recipes, artful writing & photography – I stumbled upon this collection of yours a couple months ago, and have tried a couple of recipes – each one has been so beautiful to create & enjoy! Every time I read your writing a sense of peace comes over me, and my experience of life slows down, and becomes richer. Thank you ineffably 🙂 Have you ever considered writing a book?

    • Danielle Charles says:

      Emily,

      Thank you for such a kind comment – it really warmed my heart! It’s hearing things like this that make me say “This is what I’m meant to be doing.” To know that there are people reading, using the recipes, getting something useful from my thoughts is to me the greatest thing that I could ever hope. I have of course considered writing a book – a little too often for my own good probably! Maybe someday it will happen!

      XOXO
      D

  9. OMGonads, I’m so ready to try this recipe. I’m glad you got Freshly Pressed so that I discovered you. I’m a vegetarian in need of some fresh recipes. Thanks for sharing!

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