My gluten-intolerant sister and nephew went to Italy last fall (he has a gazillion frequent flyer miles and loves to take female relatives across the pond and beyond, God bless him). In addition to all its other charms, Italy turns out to be celiac paradise. The Italians have (according to my sister) perfected the art of gluten-free pasta and offer many traditional dishes that never contained wheat to begin with.
Farinata is one of these. Made of garbanzo (chickpea) flour, water, salt, and oil, it's a kind of oven-baked pancake, rich and very satisfying. Like a good tune, it offers scope for endless variations. My sister has used it as a pizza crust and has spread jam on it for breakfast or dessert. It's delicious plain, topped only with rosemary and black pepper.
If you search the Internet for farinata recipes, you'll find all kinds of water-to-flour ratios. It must be a pretty forgiving dish--another plus, in my book. Some recipes insist on a cast-iron pan, pre-heated in the oven. I've found it comes out fine in my 11" Wilton cake tin. Any oven-proof pan that holds the batter no more than 1/2" deep should work.
Here's a version I put together yesterday.
Confetti Farinata (serves 4)
In bowl, combine:
1 cup garbanzo (chickpea) flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups water
2 Tablespoons olive oil (extra virgin for me)
Let sit for at least 1 hour. It will get kind of bubbly-looking.
|A few lumps are okay|
About an hour before you'd like to serve the farinata, heat oven to 450º. Pour 2 Tablespoons olive oil into the pan of your choice and swirl it around.
1/2 red pepper
4 green onions
Fresh rosemary to make 2 tablespoons
(Dried rosemary may be substituted - use 1/3 to 1/2 the amount)
In oiled pan, put all the red pepper and white parts of chopped green onion. Put pan in oven for about 5 minutes (it's okay if the oven is still heating) to let the veggies pre-cook a bit.
Remove pan from oven. Sprinkle in the rest of the green onions and half of the rosemary. Stop for a moment to admire the symphony of colour:
|I love the way chopped veggies look, all jumbled together|
Pour the batter over the veggies:
Bake at 450º for 20 minutes on the bottom shelf, then 5 minutes on the top shelf or until done.
|It's done when edges are just brown and the center is firm.|
Remove from oven and top with rest of chopped rosemary and freshly ground black pepper. Grate some cheese over the top (Parmesan, Romano or Grana Padano all work well.)
Running a knife around the edge before slicing will make serving easier. If you think it looks awfully flat, just remember what the Duchess of Windsor said: You can never be too rich or too thin. It applies to farinata as well.
P.S. Looking for garbanzo/chickpea flour? If your local supermarket offers bulk foods, check there first. Also try the flour aisle or health food section (I use Bob's Red Mill Garbanzo Bean Flour). Indian or Middle Eastern groceries should also carry it.