Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Onion & sage farinata with peperonata

This is one of the recipes I have found in "For the love of Food" by Denis Cotter, one of the most talented vegetarian chefs. I have been looking at some recipes for a long time but only recently I decided to actually make one of them. Some of them are quite complicated, but the dishes look gorgeous. I will try to write a separate post about the book itself some time. 

I read that farinata is Italian street food – a pancake made with chickpea flour with some topping. I have never tried it, so I am would be most happy to read your comments on how the real farinata should be. This is only Denis’ take on this dish. 

I could not find any information how big the pan used for this dish was, so I used my large 28cm pan and doubled the amount of the butter. It came out about 1cm high – so was started in the book with the original quantities, so he must used smaller pan.  

This has very specific favour. Its consistency is similar to polenta, yet it has slightly fermented flavour. You suppose to leave the batter for at least 2 hours, and the longer you will leave it the more sour and yeasty flavour it will get. I left mine for longer than I expected (had to leave home for a while, not planned at all…) so it rested for 18 hours and had very yeasty flavour. It doesn’t bother me, but I can imagine it can put some people off. Next time I will leave it for about 6-8 hours in room temperature.  

It is tasty when warm, but cooled down was still very good; I think this would make lovely finger food when cut into small pieces.  Denis Cotter suggested serving this farinata with peperonata – it was very good indeed! 

For farinata

Serves 2-4 

200g gram flour  
about 500ml water
6 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt  
2 large, red onions, peeled, halved and sliced  
6 sage leaves

For peperonata

2 tbsp olive oil
4 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
1 fresh red chilli, deseeded and finely sliced
2 large red bell peppers, deseeded and sliced into 1cm strips  
20 black olives, pitted, halved
2 tsp salted capers, rinsed thoroughly under running water 

First prepare the batter. Mix the chickpea flour with water until smooth, cover with a cloth and leave it to rest for at least 2 hours. Next remove the froth on the top and add 2 tbsp olive oil and salt. Mix well and heat the oven to 230C. 

Now prepare the peperonata. Heat the pan and add 2 tbsp olive oil. Next add the chilli, garlic and fry for about 1 minute. Add the peppers, capers, olives and reduce the heat. Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. 

Heat the frying pan that you can use in the oven and add 2 tbsp olive oil. Next add the onions and fry over a medium heat until soft. Remove from a pan and set aside. Wipe the pan with some paper towel. Add 1 tbsp of olive oil and fry the sage leaves until crispy. Remove from a pan and set aside. Next add the remaining 1 tbsp olive oil to the pan and when it is hot pour the batter into the pan.  Place immediately in hot oven. 

Check the farinata after about 3-4 minutes – the bottom should be firm already. Then add the onion and crush the sage leaves in your fingers on the top. Put back in the oven and bake for about 8-10 minutes, I used frill for last 2 minutes. 

Remove from the oven and accordingly to Denis you should be able to slide this pancake onto a chopping board. Well… This seemed impossible with mine, to I turned this upside down onto a chopping board lined with some paper and then again – upside down onto another chopping board. 

Cut into wedges and serve with some warm peperonata on the side.

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