I first tried farinata at a slow food conference in California, where the aim was to highlight the need to protect the diversity of our ingredients for future food security. Serious stuff, although the conference was far more fun than it sounds, with amazing food, including that farinata, which totally took my breath away. A delicious fix for those avoiding gluten, but also a lovely accompaniment to a mass of late-summer greens.
Farinata with late-summer garlicky greens
A bewitching combination of flavours, from rosemary to grassy green olive oil, garlic and fennel.
Prep 15 min
Rest 1 hr+
Cook 40 min
125g chickpea flour
50ml olive oil, plus extra for frying
Salt and black pepper
1 tbsp finely chopped rosemary leaves
For the greens
300g chard, or a mix of spinach leaves and extra fennel
4 tbsp olive oil
1 white onion, peeled and finely sliced
1 head fennel, outer layer discarded, the rest finely sliced
3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced
2 tsp fennel seeds
¼-½ tsp urfa, Korean or ancho chilli flakes
1 dash vinegar or lemon juice (optional)
Parmesan or pecorino, shaved
In a large bowl, whisk the flour, 200ml cold water and the oil, then cover and leave to rest for at least an hour, and ideally overnight. Wash the chard, strip the leaves from their ribs, then cut the leaves into thick ribbons and the stems into 2cm lengths, keeping the two separate.
Warm the olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat, add the onions, fennel and garlic, season generously and cook, stirring from time to time, for 15 minutes, until soft and sweet. Stir in the chard stems, fennel seeds and chilli flakes, and fry, stirring occasionally, for five minutes more.
Turn up the heat slightly, fold in the chard leaves, and cook, stirring, until they have wilted and softened. Taste and adjust the seasoning, and add a dash of vinegar or lemon, if you like. Take off the heat and keep warm.
To cook the farinata, heat the grill and warm a large ovenproof frying pan on a medium heat. Whisk the chickpea batter, stir in a little salt and pepper and the rosemary, then pour into the pan and swirl it around to cover – the farinata should be about 5mm-thick, or a little thicker than a pancake. After a minute or two, once the edges start going crisp, pop the pan under the grill and cook for five to six minutes, until the farinata turns golden and the edges start to come away from the sides of the pan. Serve sliced with the warm greens, a healthy amount of parmesan shavings and a drizzle of your very best olive oil.
And for a simple flex …
Try sauteeing the meat from a few sausages with the garlic and fennel to give the sauce more heft, or toss in some diced, ripe summer tomatoes.