Making farinata was a revelation. I discovered that it’s completely delicious – and incredibly moreish. I’ve heard about it, tried one version, and seen a few recipes, but it’s not widely known and it’s not a food that people talk about. And when you look at a recipe for a farinata, you don’t immediately think, ‘Oh, that will be lovely’. I assumed it would just taste of gram flour as it’s just a mixture of the gram flour (chickpea flour), olive oil, salt and water. But it doesn’t. Somehow, the quantities of olive oil and salt combine with the flour to produce a completely different taste. And it is truly delicious! I’ve made it here with sparkling water and I left it to ferment overnight, to create a light, airy texture. And I’ve added a porcini, olive and sage topping (you could use any dried mushroom) to create a rich, earthy vegetarian dish that’s perfect for a lunch at home or even to take with you to the office or in a lunchbox.
Serves 2 Preparation time 25 minutes, plus 4 hours or overnight Cooking time 40 minutes
- 20g/¾oz dried porcini mushrooms or other dried mushrooms
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 500g/1lb 2 oz mushrooms, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, finely sliced
- 100g pitted black olives, halved
- 1½ tbsp finely chopped sage leaves
- sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 200g/7oz/heaped ⅔ cup gram flour
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp salt
- 600ml/21fl oz/scant 2½ cups sparkling water
- To make the farinata dough, sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl. Add the oil and the sparkling water and beat gently with a whisk to draw the flour in to make a smooth batter. Cover with cling film and leave for at least 4 hours, preferably overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/Gas 7. To make the topping, put the dried mushrooms and 250ml/9fl oz/1 cup water in a bowl and leave to soak for 20 minutes. Strain through a sieve into a clean bowl and reserve the liquid.
- Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large, heavy-based ovenproof frying pan until hot. Whisk the batter lightly then pour half of the mixture into the pan, turning the pan as you pour to coat the bottom of the pan evenly. Bake in the oven for 15–20 minutes, until the farinata has set and the edges are slightly crispy. Remove from the oven and, using a spatula, turn the farinata out onto a serving plate and keep warm. Repeat with the remaining mixture, making sure you whisk the batter again lightly before pouring into the pan.
- Meanwhile, heat the remaining two tablespoons of the oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan over a medium heat. Add the fresh mushrooms and fry, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, until tender and lightly browned. Add the garlic and fry for a further 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Then add the strained mushrooms, mushroom liquid, olives and sage, and season lightly with salt and pepper. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down to low. Leave to simmer for another 5 minutes, until the liquid has been soaked up or evaporated.
- Spread the mushroom and olive mixture over the farrinatas and serve warm.