The other night Amy and I were trying to figure out what to have for dinner. Neither of us had anything thawed, and didn’t really feel like a big meal, but we both wanted something tasty. What we did have was a can of chickpeas(for some reason we thought they were actually cannelini beans until she actually got them out of her pantry), some pasta, a couple of roma tomatoes, fresh spinach, half of a red onion, some garlic, a bottle of Pinot Grigio that we only needed part of. This is actually a really simple thing to put together, and will get you a really quick and tasty dinner in under a half hour.
The first thing is to cook the pasta. Obviously, you need to follow the recommendations on the package since gluten-free pastas vary in cooking times. Once it is cooked drain it, and rinse it in cold water to cool it. Toss it in a little olive oil, and set it aside for now.
Next, we’ll make our “sauce.” Dice the tomato. Half inch cubes should be fine. Mince a few cloves of garlic. We used about four, but if you really like garlic use as much as you want. Dice half of a red onion. To that add white wine and olive oil to just cover everything. A fifty-fifty mix will work well, but it doesn’t need to be exact.
Open the can of chickpeas, drain, and rinse them. Get a medium sized skillet hot over medium heat, and add a small amount of oil. When the oil is hot add the chickpeas. Saute them for a minute or so to get them hot. Next, add the tomato mixture (There is no rule saying how much to add so go with what looks good to you.), and keep things moving in the pan. Add the spinach to the pan, and cook until it has wilted. You may be surprised at how little spinach it looks like once it is wilted! You’ll eventually get it up to a boil. Once the liquid comes up to a boil add the pasta, and saute everything until everything is hot.
Obviously, this kind of thing gives you lots of room to improvise, and make it your own. In this case, it was vegan as well as being gluten-free. Whatever it little category you want to cram it into, it was very tasty, very quick, and very easy!
After a second attempt. Well, several attempts actually using the original recipe I have concluded that for farinata to work you need to have a level oven. After a change of venue, using my oven, a skillet that has a nice flat thin bottom, and a pizza stone we got better results that the previous night. They were still not 100% satisfactory though.
For the sake of padding the word count here, I’ll give you a quick rundown of what I tried. As I have researched this I have found a wide variety of recipes, and they all call for the same ingredients, but in wildly differing quantities. All of them seem like they would make a rather thin batter.
2 cups of chickpea flour
4 cups cold water
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt
Whisk the water into the chickpea flour. I poured part of the water in, mixed it, added more, and incorporated the water and flour as I went. Once all of the water is incorporated, whisk in the salt, cover, and allow to sit in the fridge for at least an hour. Longer might be better. When you are ready to go, skim off the white foam on top, and whisk in the oil.
Preheat your (hopefully level) oven to 450F, and oil a 12 inch pan, and ladle or pour a thin layer of the batter into the bottom. The thinner the crisper you will end up with. Bake for 10-12 minutes. You should, at least in theory, end up with a crispy on the outsides, and soft inside flatbread. Some of the descriptions call it almost pancake-like. It never quite managed that for me, except for one tiny edge bit. I put a little bit of herbs, and sliced onions on before I baked mine. It didn’t taste bad to me, but the texture could be a little weird for some people. (That was what put Amy off!) I even tried one on the stovetop, but since I have an electric stove I have less even heat. This caused one spot to burn and stick, before most of it had really browned.
Once I get my oven level I will certainly try this again, although I must admit I was more than a little frustrated with having this much difficulty getting a recipe to work. I may also look at a few other recipes to see if one looks like it might end up with a thicker batter.
Farinata is still promising to me, but I think I will be taking a break from it for now. I have a few technical issues to work out before I try again.
A bit of serendipity led to the recipe that I am working on. I ran across a mix for cinque e’ cinque on the Lucini website. At about the same time Amy ran across a recipe for farinata. When I Googled cinque e’ cinque I found the Lucini website, and a couple of recipes for farinata. Neither of us had heard of farinata, but based on the descriptions it sounded like a really tasty thing, and worth trying. From the number of different descriptions I have seen it seems like it could be a very versatile dish. It can range from a flatbread, to a savory pancake, to something like a fritata. I was more interested in the flatbread end of things.
What’s in it? Chickpea flour, water, salt, and olive oil. Simple. Right, well that is where things got a little fuzzy. After searching for a but we decided to try the recipe Amy had. For one reason or another it didn’t work out. I think I have this figured out now. Lets just say that dinner was not quite what we had in mind for tonight! It was tasty all right, but we’ll just kind of skip that. I think that the biggest problem we actually had was simply trying to get too much in the pan at one time. The recipe was a little unclear about some of the details, and although we did what we thought was right, we ended up with something that looked like we baked some hummus. It smelled fantastic though!
My hope was that this would be something that I would be able to use as a really tasty pizza crust, or as a base for an appetizer. Maybe a little thicker and I could use it almost like a pita or tortilla, folded in half and filled.
We’re going to take another crack at it tomorrow, I think, and I’ll take some pictures and let you know how it turns out.