Farinata or frittata?

I have to say, I’ve become obsessed by food! I love reading articles, recipes, blogs and watching various food programmes on the TV. And as for recipes books – well my collection is growing! Sitting down with a cuppa and a pile of recipes is the perfect way to spend a few minutes.

The constant thought in the back of my mind is “can I eat this?” Eating dairy and yeast free, and now completely plant based, can create a number of challenges, but with a bit of imagination and creativity, it’s amazing what you can come up with. Although I have to say, experimentation can be accompanied by disaster!

Recently, I was browsing a vegan cookbook and I came across a recipe for farinata, something I hadn’t heard of before. Originating in Northern Italy, farinata is a type of flat bread that’s made from chickpea flour and baked at a high temperature so that it’s crispy on the outside but soft on the inside. The thing that had caught my eye though was the featured photo looked like pizza!

For once, I decided to follow the recipe diligently, even down to the recommended tin size. This was where things didn’t quite add up though. The photo showed a really thin base with a topping of tomato, onion and olive delicately resting on the top. However, the batter was really deep in the tin, and all my toppings just sank! So I baked it anyway, a bit grumpy that things were not going to work out.

I was right, it didn’t turn out as expected – but it certainly wasn’t a disaster. I ended up with a plant based version of a frittata, so egg-like in texture and taste it was a real surprise. My grumpiness soon turned to delight.

Perfect for breakfast, lunch, picnic or a light supper, this dish is pretty simple to make, you just need to plan ahead a little as the batter has to sit for a couple of hours. And as it’s make with chickpea flour, it’s got lots of fibre as well as protein and various minerals so it’s a really healthy, cholesterol free alternative to eggs. As for the filling, you could add whatever you would to any frittata. I’ve stuck with tomatoes, olives and onions as the combination tastes great.
My only problem is what to call it, as I don’t think it’s either a farinata or a frittata. Why not try it – seriously tasty as well as healthy, and maybe you can think of a good name!  And in the meantime, I will try to make a thin farinata with the toppings on top…..maybe that pizza alternative is close!

Tomato, olive and onion farinata/frittatafarinata
250g chickpea flour (gram flour)
1/2 teaspoon salt
450mls warm water
3-4 tablespoons olive oil
black pepper
2 ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 small onion diced
handful black olives, halved
sprig fresh rosemary and oregano, chopped
chilli flakes (optional)

Stir the chickpea flour and salt together, then stir in the warm water until well mixed and no lumps. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and put somewhere warm for a couple of hours, or even overnight (I put it on the draining board which is above the dishwasher – gets slightly warm and worked perfectly!). When you are ready to cook, preheat the oven to 220oC. Put one tablespoon of olive oil in a 20×20 baking tin and pop in the oven to get really hot. Stir the rest of the oil into the batter, then pour into the sizzling hot tin. Sprinkle the topping ingredients equally over the batter – they will sink into it, season with more salt and pepper and finish with a sprinkle of chilli flakes if you so desire. Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes until the top is lightly browned and coming away from the side of the tin. This can be eaten hot, or left to cool. Don’t over cook as it dries out and eat the same day if possible as it won’t be as good tomorrow. Enjoy!farinata

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