Pan con Tomate (Tomatoes on toast!)

My husband travels a lot with his job. Whilst it takes him to all sorts of interesting places, some locations can be a bit challenging when it comes to finding healthy plant-based food options. Each country has its local breakfast options – this week he’s off to Bangalore and so he’s looking forward to getting a delicious masala dosa in the morning. Continue reading “Pan con Tomate (Tomatoes on toast!)”

Apple and oat muffins

Muffins were in the news earlier this year following a report that outed many shop-bought versions as being the less-than healthy option they might appear to be (click here for the link). Some blueberry ones tested didn’t have anything close to a real blueberry in them, just some synthetic sugar replacement. Plus lots of refined sugar and oils. That’s definitely not a healthy muffin!

These muffins on the other hand are on the complete other end of the scale. Being a whole-food plant-based version, they contain no refined oils, eggs or sugar but do have wholegrain and oats plus lots of healthy fibre and phytonutrients. Perfect for a breakfast on-the-go, mid-morning snack, lunch box treat or to fuel some exercise. Or you could just eat them because they taste delicious!

The key difference with these muffins to those made with lots of oil and sugar is the texture. Apple puree replaces the oil and it’s heavy. This makes it more difficult for the baking agents to elicit a light fluffy rise, resulting in a dense and somewhat heavy muffin. Pick it up and you know that muffin is going to be good for you!

Apple also replaces much of the normal added sugar; eating apples do not need to be sweetened and cook down into a good puree. The ones I made for the photos used some puree I had in the freezer from my own prolific apple tree, so maybe they tasted even better for being home grown! The combination of apple and cinnamon not only tastes amazing but does magic tricks in your body. Cooked apple is a wonderful pre-biotic, feeding the friendly bacteria that live in the gut – they love it! And cinnamon helps the body to absorb sugar from the bloodstream into the cells, promoting healthy blood sugar metabolism.

A word of warning – because these muffins contain no oil, they have a habit of sticking to the muffin paper, although oddly only on the day they are baked (which is also the day they taste the best, fresh out of the oven). This is frustrating, especially if you want to dive in and end up consuming more fibre than you anticipated by nibbling on wrapper! One way around this is to skip using the cases and bake directly into a well-greased non-stick muffin tin. If you’re not too worried about have extra oil, you could add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil to the mix. I just know the one I eat the day I make them will require some paper nibbling and just enjoy them as they are!

So if you are looking for a tasty muffin that’s filling, full of healthy nutrients and ticks all the ‘good’ boxes, then try a batch of these. Don’t forget to let me know how you get on.

Oat and apple muffins (makes 12)
1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
3 tablespoons water
200mls non-dairy milk (preferably soya)
Squeeze of lemon or ½ teaspoon cider vinegar
220g unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
80ml maple syrup
200g oats (gluten free if needed)
200g wholemeal or gluten free self-raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoons cinnamon
pinch salt
1 medium/large eating apple, peeled and finely chopped
1 tablespoon coconut sugar to top (optional)

Mix the flaxseed and water together in a small bowl and leave to one side to thicken – this makes a flax-egg. Whisk the dairy-free milk and lemon or vinegar together in a bowl and leave to stand for a few minutes. Preheat the oven to 180ºC and line muffin tins with 12 muffin wrappers or grease non-stick muffin tins with a little oil.

Mix the applesauce, maple syrup, vanilla and flaxseed egg with the milk and whisk together well. Place the flour, oats, baking powder, salt and spices to a large bowl and mix to combine. Pour in the wet ingredients into the dry and mix together quickly. Do not over mix. Quickly fold in the chopped apple.

Spoon out mix into muffin cases, filling each one just under the rim. Tap the tin than place in the oven and bake for 17-19 minutes.

Once firm and lightly browned on top, remove from the oven and transfer to a cooking rack. Sprinkle a little extra ground cinnamon on the top if so desired and leave to cool completely.

 

Soaked breakfast oats

Oats are amazing. That’s all I need to say really. But then it wouldn’t be much of a blog post if I just wrote 3 words!

Much has been researched and written about the benefits of eating oats in the last few years, and rightly so. It seems that the traditional porridge breakfast is not just cheap, filling and convenient, but goes a long way to keep people healthy; a fabulous whole food. Oats have been linked to:

  • reducing heart disease
  • lowering bad cholesterol (LDL) levels
  • maintaining blood sugar levels
  • helping with asthma and eczema
  • relieving constipation
  • increasing resistance to infections
  • reducing the risk of breast cancer

Not bad for a small, seemingly insignificant grain. So what’s the secret to oat’s success? For a start, oats are packed full of minerals like manganese and molybdenum, micronutrients that play an essential role in a range of enzyme and metabolic processes. There’s also a good helping of a few B vitamins as well as magnesium, chromium and zinc. These last three are particularly needed for heart health, managing blood sugars and keeping the immune system on track.

Most importantly, though, seems to be the particular type of fibre found in them – beta-glucan. It’s this special fibre that helps to lower cholesterol levels by removing excess amounts from the gut in an effective manner (and deals with the problem of constipation and help keep gut bacteria happy at the same time!). Oats also contain certain anti-oxidants that reduce free radical damage on LDL cholesterol, thereby reducing the damaging effect it can have on the body. So a double win.

Oats are great for the skin too, both on the inside and out. The nutrients digested help to reducing inflammation and nourish the skin from the inside, but you can also use oats in the bath to soothe itchy and irritated skin (wrapped up in a pouch not loose). I used to do that for my son when he was little, even though he would complain that I was making him bath in porridge!

The main bonus is that oats are delicious! I use them in all sorts of plant based dishes, either as the star ingredient or as a filler to provide extra fibre or a creamy texture. Pure oats are gluten free but do contain a protein – avenin – that is similar to gluten so people with celiac disease might be sensitive to oats as well. The problem with oats is cross contamination when they are processed in factories dealing with wheat and other gluten containing products, so if you want to aire on the side of caution, buy gluten free oats to be safe.

This breakfast is really simple and so delicious. When I used to do night shifts, this is what I’d take with me – it’s perfect when the 4am hunger hits and you need satisfying sustenance to see you through until the morning staff arrived. 4am hunger is the worst – ask any night shift worker!

If you’re in a hurry in the morning, make it the night before and then it’s ready and waiting for you first thing. If you forget though, it still taste good with less soaking. I usually get up, make my tea and put a bowl together, then go off and get showered etc. Once I’m all ready, so is breakfast. If you’re really short of time, my daughter says even 5 minutes is enough (if you’re a disorganised teenager!).

Toppings are up to you. I love a few blueberries and ground flaxseed, but any mix will do. Give it a go and see what works for you.  Your body will love you for it!

Soaked oats and chia seeds
50g oats
1 tablespoon chia seeds
Approx 150ml dairy free milk
a handful raisins
sprinkle of cinnamon
toppings – blueberries, seeds, ground flaxseeds, nuts, grated apple, banana – the choice is yours!

Place the oats in a bowl, stir in the chia seeds, raisins and cinnamon. Pour over the milk and leave it to soak in the fridge overnight, or for as long as you have. Add toppings of choice and enjoy.

Embellished avocado toast

I’ve realised the breakfast section in my recipe index is a bit thin on the ground. Strange, as I love breakfast and can never go without. Even when I used to start work early in the morning, I still had to munch through something to power me up for the day, even if it was before the birds had even thought about waking up. And I’ve never understood people who say they don’t like breakfast – how can that be?

The old adage that breakfast is the most important meal of the day has been questioned in the last few years. Various experiments and studies have been undertaken to determine if you are likely to gain or lose weight if you miss out a morning meal. Guess what – the answers differ! Some people do, some people don’t. The idea that if you do a physical job you need to eat more, but if sedentary should consume less are all connected to the old idea that food is about energy units. But of course food is about so much more than energy!

Away from weight gain or loss, there is a consensus that people who eat breakfast are more likely to consume more micronutrients during the day as well as fibre, which is all good. But then again, if breakfast consists of sugary cereal and a bunch of empty calories then that’s no help at all! Eating breakfast does appear to help balance blood sugar levels during the day, but only if refined carbohydrates and sugar are avoided – so coco-pops are not helpful!

I guess the key to these studies shows that there is no right answer, because we are all different. Getting to know our bodies, what works for us and keeps us healthy and understanding the value and benefit of what we are doing makes a real difference. Since I started eating whole foods and dairy free, I’ve found my breakfast keeps me going much longer with no sugar lows or shakes until lunchtime. Some days I only feel like a light breakfast – some fruit and dairy free yoghurt maybe. Other days I’m up for something more substantial like scrambled tofu, especially at the weekend when things are more relaxed and sometimes breakfast is more brunch!

Avocado toast is one of my favourite breakfasts, easy and quick on a busy morning, simple to embellish on a lazy one. The toast for me is either wholegrain sourdough or a home made superfood bread, a gluten free and nutrition-packed lovely (the recipe will appear some time soon!). There’s fibre and minerals in the wholegrain and fabulous monounsaturated fats in the avocado, the healthy, anti-inflammatory fat that our bodies just love. The fat and protein in the avocado also help keep me feeling full for longer.

I like to add a good swirl of organic flaxseed oil on my toast before smashing the avocado on top; packed full of super health omega 3 fatty acids, it adds a lovely rich flavour, a great dairy free alternative to butter.

To add a few more goodies and start getting my 10 a day, adding some lightly sautéed mushrooms and a handful of fresh rocket or spinach really embellishes ordinary avocado toast and I highly recommend it. You may feel this is more of a lunch idea than breakfast, but all over the world, peoples idea of breakfast is different – my son was served spaghetti carbonara for breakfast in Vietnam!

So if you are a breakfast lover like me, give this little dish a go one morning – it will put a smile on your face and joy in your tummy!

Chia-up – breakfast cheer

Getting a good breakfast can be a challenge at times, especially if you’re short of time or have run out of inspiration. It’s easy to get stuck in the same routine, grab the nearest empty calorie cereal or, worse, have nothing at all.

Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day – your body has been fasting over night and needs good fuel to get it going again. And it doesn’t have to be boring, even though cereals and toast sometimes seems like the only things to have. When you’re eating a dairy or gluten free diet, you do need to get a bit imaginative at times.

There’s loads of different things on offer to power you up for the day – just because you don’t have time for a full English (or it’s veggie equivalent!) doesn’t mean you have to miss out.

Planning the morning meal is as important as any other during the day, so keep ahead of the game, and if mornings are a rush, prepare it the night before.

This chia breakfast bowl is one of the recipes that features in my Eat Well, Live Well course, a five week foray into the world of eating a whole food plant based diet. It’s so simple to make, tastes fabulous and is packed full of amazing nutrients and fibre that will keep you going all the way to lunch. Because of it’s high fibre content and lack of refined sugar, you won’t get that sugar dip mid-morning.

Chia seeds are part of the ‘in crowd’ at the moment. But rather than just another nutrition fad, these tiny little black seeds really are worth the hype. Just a couple of tablespoons gives you 5g of protein, 11g of fibre and are a great source of plant based omega 3 fatty acids. There’s also fabulous amounts of calcium, manganese, magnesium and phosphorous, plus zinc and vitamins B1, 2 and 3. Not only that, there are loads of anti-oxidants that help munch up free radicals that damage our bodies and contribute towards the ageing process.

The fibre content of chia seeds is amazing – not only will it help keep you full for longer, it helps keep your gut happy, providing food for the friendly bacteria deep down that aid digestion and absorption of nutrients, but also keeps our guts a healthy and happy place. And the nutrient profile of these seeds is perfect for bone health – a clean source of protein and lots of calcium, magnesium and phosphorous, all essential to keep bones healthy and strong.

This chia breakfast bowl only takes a couple of minutes to make before you go to bed;  the chia seeds swell up in the milk overnight, so when you grab it in the morning, it’s all thick and gooey, and ready to get you going. There’s all sorts of toppings you can add – hemp seeds, fruit, coconut etc – or just eat it as it is. On the photo, I’ve added some ground hemp seeds with goji berries and passion fruit.

So think ahead, and have a chia-full day!

Chia seed breakfast bowl
1 small banana
2 tablespoons chia seeds
200ml dairy free milk of choice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Toppings: passion fruit, berries, mango, strawberries – whatever you enjoy really!

Mash the banana in the bottom of a bowl. Pour the chia seeds in then add the milk. Stir in the cinnamon, then place in the fridge overnight. Add your toppings of choice in the morning, and enjoy!

Original kedgeree

Every now and then my husband gets the urge to have a session in the kitchen. Apart from the inevitable mess, I love it when he’s inspired to try out something different – not only does it give me the night off, but it’s usually something he’s been thinking about for a while and researched within an inch of it’s life. Big contrast to my sudden inspiration, throwing things together to see what happens approach!

He’s been mainly plant based for over a year and a half now which is quite a surprise to both of us! Having gone for it, he’s quite happy not to go back eating to meat and dairy for now as it stops him from pigging out on pastries and burgers. There are a few things he misses though (thankfully beer is plant based). Oddly, one is kedgeree, something we rarely ate but obviously on his list of ‘foods I love’. So he decided to get researching to make a completely plant based version.

It didn’t take him long to discover the original version of kedgeree – kichiri, a simple Indian comfort food, traditionally given to those under the weather. Legend has it that kedgeree, which includes milk, fish and egg, was devised by Colonial Brits in India, then brought back to England, although according to Wikipedia, there is some contention that it appeared in Scotland in the 1700’s; the India connection remains intact though. When exactly a fish, rice and egg combo became a breakfast dish, I’m not so sure.

Kichiri is the perfectly balanced plant based dish. A mixture of rice, lentils and some super spices, it’s tasty, satisfying and remarkably moreish despite the simplicity. The lentils give it a little bit of texture and it’s aromatic rather than spiciness, so gentler on the palate.

Rice and lentils create the perfect plant based protein – both these lovelies contain the full range of essential amino acids. Even though it’s one of the top arguments detractors will come up with when you decide to go plant based, there’s no fear about missing out on protein as long as you eat a wide range of products. And of course wholegrain is best as more nutrients are retained. And lentils give you much more than just protein – they also have a wonderful dollop of fibre, manganese, iron and B vitamins amongst others.

A cucumber raita completes this dish perfectly – using dairy free yoghurt of course! You could get flashy and add make a little spicy tempering to go on the top – toasted cumin and mustard seeds with a couple of dried red chillis and some fresh curry leaves to finish. Lovely.

So why not give this a go and see what you think – is definitely different to kedgeree but still comfortably familiar!

Kichiri (serves 4)
160g green lentils
270g wholegrain basmati rice
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1 onion, diced
1 inch piece fresh ginger, grated
2 cloves garlic finely chopped
1 carrot, diced
1 red pepper, diced
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
pinch of salt
1 litre water
couple of handfuls fresh coriander
Heat a glug of olive oil in a large pan and sauté the cumin and black mustard seeds until they start to pop. Add the onion and ginger and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring so it doesn’t burn. Add the carrot and red pepper and cook for another minute or so, then add the garlic, rice and lentils as well as the ground coriander, turmeric and salt and cook on a low heat stirring all the time. After a minute or so, carefully pour in the water, bring to the boil and pop on the lid. Turn the heat down low and cook for 15-20 minutes until the water has been absorbed and the lentils are tender. Turn off the heat, and leave to steam for a couple of minutes.
Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle fresh coriander over the top to serve. Enjoy!

Tofu scramble

Wouldn’t it be great to find a dish that is quick and easy to make, and suitable to eat at any time of the day? Well, I’m happy to say that tofu scramble fits the bill just perfectly. A great breakfast alternative to scrambled eggs, a quick and easy lunch option or bulked up with a range of vegetables for a more substantial evening meal, tofu scramble is super easy and packed with masses of flavour as well as a shed-load of nutrients.

I first came across tofu scramble in India on one of the cooking courses I attended. There’s an Indian breakfast dish called Akuri that is basically scrambled egg with vegetables and chilli. Replacing the eggs with tofu created tofu akuri and I have to say I really didn’t like it! Looking back, I think it was the type of tofu used but I avoided trying it again for some time. Then whilst in New York last summer, we found a fabulous boutique cafe that served tofu scramble, so I decided to give it a go and was delighted I did. It was amazing and I’ve been making it at home ever since.

There’s a lot of mixed opinions on tofu. Tofu is made from fermented soya milk, and it’s the humble soya bean that courts controversy. Many people are concerned about genetically modified soy that is grown mainly in the States along with the fact that vast swathes of land, including previously pristine rainforests, are used to grow it. But most of the soy grown is actually used for animal feed, not for direct human consumption, and as long as you know where your soya and tofu comes from, or buy organic, you can make sure that you’re not unwittingly consuming GMO if you don’t want to. My favourite is Dragonfly tofu, made down in Devon, but there a number of different options in the shops, it’s all a matter of taste.

Strictly speaking, tofu is a processed product and not whole food as the soya bean has been cooked and strained to get milk then strained again to separate off some of the fluid. Calcium carbonate (or traditionally seaweed) is added to help it set in a block. But even with this processing, it’s still a great product to include in a plant based diet as it’s high in protein as well as calcium, iron and manganese. Being dairy free, it can be used in dishes as an alternative to cheese and cream, as well as an ingredient in it’s own right. Soya products also contain phyto-oestrogens that are particularly useful for women especially around the menopause and research shows that it can help reduce the incidence of breast cancer. It can also help lower bad LDL cholesterol so suitable for both women and men!

There are a number of different types of tofu – silken, firm, extra firm, smoked or flavoured. By itself, it doesn’t score high on taste or texture, but it absorbs flavours really well and so can be a great asset in the plant based kitchen. For tofu scramble, firm works well. Silken is lovely and soft but can be a little watery, extra firm can be a bit dry. I have used lightly smoked and it gives a different flavour, but I prefer to use plain so I can taste all the flavours. The key is to experiment and discover which one you find most enjoyable.

There is an ingredient you can add to recreate the ‘eggy’ flavour and aroma of egg – kala namuk or Indian black salt. Which is not black but pink! You can find it in Indian food stores and online. Give it a sniff and your nose is hit by seriously strong sulphur wafts. It’s has a strong flavour too, so if you use it, use with caution – a pinch really is enough.

Cooking this for breakfast, I tend to go simple and just add in a few herbs or mushrooms. But if I’m using this for a quick but substantial supper, I cook a pan of additional vegetables such as courgette, mushroom, peppers and spinach, and stir them in at the end with whatever fresh herbs I have to hand. You can serve it on toast, or with saute potatoes or salad. Really, it’s up to whatever you feel like, and what ever you have in the fridge – there are no rules! So why not give it a try and see what combinations you can come up with. Let me know what your favourite turns out to be.

Tofu scramble (serves 2) basic recipe

A tasty breakfast or brunch lovely on it's own, with added veggies or as part of a bigger breakfast.
Prep Time 3 mins
Cook Time 4 mins
Total Time 7 mins
Course Breakfast, brunch
Servings 2 portions

Ingredients
  

  • 200 g tofu - silken, firm or extra firm drained
  • 1 small onion or shallot
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon tamari
  • pepper to taste.
  • pinch kala namak or Indian black salt (optional)

Instructions
 

  • Heat 2 tablespoons of waterl in a small pan over a medium heat and sauté the onion until soft. Crumble in the tofu and cook gently for a minute then add the turmeric, tamari, pepper and kala namuk if using. Continue to heat gently for another few minutes then serve.

Notes

I like to add mushrooms to my breakfast tofu scramble, so add in some finely chopped mushrooms when the onion is nearly cooked and saute them for a few minutes before adding in the tofu etc. Before serving, I sprinkle some freshly chopped parsley over the top and serve on a bed of baby spinach leaves.
Keyword breakfast, brunch, egg free, plant based, tofu

Half term breakfast pancakes

It’s half term this week for our region of the UK, a welcome break in the normal routine of chasing teenagers up out of bed, prompting, reminding and miraculously getting them out of the door vaguely on time and conscious! When the kids were little, I loved just spending some relaxing time with them, going out on little excursions and generally chilling out together; now they just enjoy chilling out with their friends and I don’t get much of a look in, apart from in the food producing department!

Breakfast on a school day is usually a case of getting something quick and nutritious inside of them; the holidays allow a little more time. This week I made these great wholesome pancakes; they are easy to prepare, but tend to be saved as a weekend or holiday treat as pancakes just seem to take longer to cook than I expect them too. My giant boy teenager, who had already consumed one breakfast, polished off four and said they were the best dairy free pancakes he’d tasted!

What’s great about these pancakes is that apart from being dairy free, they’re also gluten free, contain no refined sugar or oil and are packed with fibre and nutrients. I’ve used buckwheat flour which in itself is a fabulous source of plant based protein as well as fibre, manganese and magnesium. Flaxseed, which I’ve used as an egg replacer, is a fabulous source of omega 3 and cinnamon is just an all round fabulous anti-inflammatory that can help reduce cholesterol, maintain good blood sugar control and just tastes wonderful! And if you use almond milk as your non-dairy milk, you get fantastic amounts of calcium and vitamin E thrown in for good measure.

I’ve used maple syrup as the sweetening agent which is one of the least refined sugars you can get your hands on; you could use agave syrup or just normal sugar if you don’t have any maple syrup to hand, but that reduces the overall favourable nutritional profile of these pancakes. Having said that, the superb amount of fibre in these pancakes should negate the negativities of a little added sugar (unless you are on a specific disease reversing programme). If you don’t have buckwheat flour to hand, use wholemeal wheat flour, but add a little less milk as it shouldn’t need as much.

Give these a go one lazy morning and see how great a nutrient packed pancake can taste.

Apple and maple pancakes
1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
2 1/2 tablespoons wate
1 apple grated
125g buckwheat flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
300mls non-dairy milk
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon maple syru
First of all, soak the ground flaxseed in the water for a few minutes – it will become thick and gloopy. In a large bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and cinnamon together. In another bowl, mix together the milk, apple and maple syrup, then add in the gloopy flaxseed mix, stirring well. Pour the wet mixture into the dry and mix well. It should be very thick; add a little extra non-dairy milk if it seems too thick to come off the spoon.
Heat a non-stick frying pan and wipe over with oil.  Add a spoonful of mixture into the pan and cook for a few minutes on each side until brown. Keep warm until the whole batch is cooked, then serve with additional maple syrup, fruit or whatever you like to add to your pancakes. Enjoy!

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