We tried the Ligurian version in Genoa a couple of years back and ate it in the street and thoroughly enjoyed but I would never have thought of making a whole meal of it if I hadn't happened on an Italian cookbook listing dozens and dozens of recipes using the farinata as a base for all kinds of tasty toppings, including mushrooms. That gave me an idea for a quick dinner the other night.
I mixed the farinata batter (it has to rest for a while, four hours at least says the Genoan cookbook, while the oven heats up and as long as 12 hours, says Mark Bittman) and set it to do its thing on the counter. Meanwhile I washed and sliced the mushrooms, drizzled calamansi vinegar and olive oil over them, added some finely chopped garlic (no salt at this stage or no pepper either since there is lots of pepper in the farinata itself) and set them to rest companiably next to the batter.
For the farinata (below are the proportions I used for 5 small flatbreads. You should use Bittman's if you are making the larger oven-baked flatbread)
- 150 g chickpea flour
- 320 g water
- 35 g olive oil
- freshly ground pepper (as liberal an amount as you think you can stand)
- 170 g small portabella mushrooms (I used the stuffing variety from Trader Joe's)
- 170 g baby spinach (twice that amount would have been better but I only had half a bag)
- 3 tablespoons balsam calamansi vinegar (or one tablespoon each of lemon juice, tangerine, clementine or mandarine juice and white balsamic vinegar)
- 2 tablespons of extra-virgin olive oil (for the marinade) + 1 tablespoon for sautéing the mushrooms
- 2 cloves of garlic, chopped fine
- salt to taste
- red pepper flakes to taste (optional)
- For the farinata itself, please follow Mark Bittman's recipe. When it is almost done baking:
- Heat up a tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan, drain the mushrooms, saving the marinating liquid, and gently sauté them until done (they cook fast) taking care not to overbrown them so that they remain moist
- Add the baby spinach to the mushrooms and drizzle over them a scant teaspoonful of the marinade (no more as you don't want an overload of raw garlic) and sauté them briefly until they barely start softening a little.
- Add salt and red pepper flakes. Remove from heat
- Take the farinata out of the oven, cut it in slices like a pizza and serve hot, topping each slice with a heaping spoonful of mushroom and spinach.
The chickpea flatbread with mushrooms goes to Susan for this week's issue of Yeastspotting.