Farinata ai Carciofi
There are somethings that easily get lost in translation so it’s better not to attempt to translate farinata. It is called different things in different places, such as Cecina or Torta di ceci in Tuscany but I will refer to it as Farinata as it is most widespread in Liguria.
Farina is the Italian word for flour, and in this case it’s chickpea flour. Farinata closely resembles pizza and is usually eaten as stand up, casual finger food.
I first saw farinata on the Italian coastal stretch of the Cinque Terre in Liguria and it was love at first sight. You can walk between the five coastal towns and stop off for a serve of farinata at each if you really felt like it. This kind of behaviour might be a bit obsessive but it has been known to be done, just so one knows where to find one’s most preferred farinata on one’s next visit to Cinque Terre. (For my money it’s the upper most shop on the hill in Rio Maggiore).
As Liguria is also the birthplace of pesto it is quite common to find pesto spread on farinata. It’s also common to find versions with zucchini / courgette or bianchetti, which are the tiniest fish you’ve ever seen. They are quite adaptable so for this post I have made one with sliced artichoke.
Although the best place to find farinata is in the specialized farinata shops you generally will find it at pizza places that predominantly sell takeaway pizza. Traditionally, and for best results, it is cooked in a wood fired oven on special tin lined copper trays, but as most of us don’t have a wood fired oven, the domestic kitchen oven yields great results.
All you need is a few simple ingredients, some baking paper, a baking tray and an oven.
Ingredients (serves 4)
The ratio to remember is 3:1 of water to flour
1 cup of chickpea flour
3 cups water
1 large pinch salt
1/3 of a cup olive oil
black pepper for grinding
The following video will give you an idea of the consistency and the traditional baking method.
Using a large bowl and a whisk, begin by adding water to the chickpea flour a little at a time until you have mixed all the water in with the flour and ensuring there are no lumps in the mixture.
Add the salt and most of the oil and mix thoroughly.(in the video he the oil is added to the mixture on the tray.)
Ideally allow it to sit for eight hours in a cool place giving it a stir occasionally so the flour doesn’t settle. Some say four hours is enough.
Pre-heat an oven to 250C/480F.
Line a baking tray with baking paper and oil the paper or grease a non-stick baking tray with plenty of olive oil. (Using greased paper will ensure no sticking at all.)
Remove any foam that has formed on top of the mixture with a slotted spoon and discard.
Pour the mixture into the tray making sure it doesn’t exceed 1cm / .39 inch in depth.
Place on a lower rung in the oven and set your timer for 20 minutes.
If you are using a wood fired oven, make sure you keep an eye on it because it will be a very rapid cooking time.
When you have cut all your artichokes, drain them of the lemon water and dress them in a little olive oil, salt and pepper.
Remove the tray from the oven at 20 minutes and being careful not to burn yourself on the hot tray, place the artichokes evenly on top of the farinata, which by this time will have gained some colour and firmness.
Place it back in the oven for another 20 minutes or until the top is nicely baked and brown.
It is important that the farinata is not at all runny on the inside. It should be firm to touch and the edges will be lovely and crispy brown
Remove from the tray onto a cutting board and use a sharp knife to slice through and cut small pizza size pieces.
Serve piping hot with ground pepper.
Picturing the Cinque Terre
Houses hanging onto coastal cliffs
Lemons and laundry
Bobbing in a bay.