I can’t believe it’s exactly a year since that grey, misty day on the cliffs near Porto Venere, Cinque Terra when I stood gazing out at the Atlantic ocean, my cold hands clasping a steaming brown-paper package. Inside nestled a large hot slice of fresh-from-the-pan farinata, a sort of flat chickpea (or ceci) pizza. Oh that slice tasted so good!….and each time I make it at home I have that same feeling of warm satisfaction.
Thankfully this year, spring seems to have arrived earlier, bursting into our life with its vigour and colour. I for one certainly have more spring in my step and I can’t wait to walk outside with only a t-shirt and sweater and discard all those heavy layers of coats and scarves. Suddenly everything seems lighter and – dare I say it – easier.
Primroses, pansies and forget-me-nots are peeping up everywhere round us and yesterday our local heron flew back into town to take up his usual river vigil. Things are on the move and new life is appearing everywhere.
Farinata is really simple to make and uses chickpea flour or ‘farina di ceci’. Chickpeas are one of the oldest ‘legumes’, grown mainly in the Middle East but were also being eaten in Italy as early as the Bronze Age – usually in soup, as is still done today.
According to macrobiotics, legumes or pulses are categorised as ‘edible seeds that grow in a pod’ and as such carry and transmit to us the fresh new life-force of a seed just starting out in life. Perfect for welcoming in spring!
I’ve made small individual farinatas instead of the traditional Ligurian way of cooking a whole one in a large shallow pan, then slicing and serving hot with loads of freshly ground black pepper. These ones are easy and quick to do plus I’ve added herbs to the mixture and scattered over some freshly gathered spring edible flowers.
FRESH HERB & SPRING FLOWER ‘FARINATA’
For 2 (makes 2 medium-sized ‘fritters’ or 1 large but just double up the ingredient amounts to make 1 large one each)
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Resting time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 6-8 minutes
100g chickpea flour (also known as ‘gram’ or ‘besan’ flour in India)
2 heaped Tbsp finely-chopped spring onions
2 heaped Tbsp finely-chopped parsley
1 heaped Tbsp finely-chopped basil
2 Tbsp olive oil
Sunflower or vegetable oil for sautéing
Edible flowers (absolutely must be organic), small tomatoes and fresh basil leaves for decoration
Mix all the ingredients – except sunflower oil – in a bowl and leave for 30 minutes.
Heat a small fry-pan over medium heat and pour in about 3-4 Tbsp of vegetable oil.
Pour half of the chickpea mixture into the pan and gently tip or ease with a spoon until the bottom of the pan is covered.
Cook about 4 minutes one side – or until lightly brown – then flip over and cook about 4 minutes on the other side.
Slide onto a warm plate to set aside whilst you sauté the other fritter.
Serve decorated with edible flowers, basil leaves and tiny tomatoes.
These are great on their own for a light supper or lunch with a drizzle of olive oil, some grated parmesan cheese and a salad.
• full of phytochemicals
• have a good amount of protein (if you want to eat a complete range of proteins just add some wholegrains, dairy or meat to your chickpeas)
• good source of soluble fibre helping to lower cholesterol and stabilise blood sugar
• aids digestion