I get my food inspirations from many places, chief among them are my cookbooks and food blogs on the Internet. The past couple of days represent a case in point.
Barbara is the arbiter of shelf and table space in the house, and I am limited to only five bookshelves in the living room (which is adjacent to our kitchen). This is, naturally, a severe restriction, but I live with it. One of the consequences is that I have other cookbooks in various stashes around the house (there are over 200 books in total, almost all of which I use each year). One such book is shown above, The Ligurian Kitchen. In an idle moment the other day downstairs in my office space, I saw the book and started browsing through it. Two recipes caught my eye almost immediately:
Of course, I had to make them both as soon as possible. The olive paste was first, earlier in the week, and it quickly became my favorite, even better than Lulu’s Provençal version. I used in in several meals, including my vegetarian lunch yesterday, which featured finely-diced Swiss Chard ribs, sautéed with onion, garlic, carrots, celery, garlic, and green beans, plus pan-fried slices of Halloumi cheese from Cyprus, and Tuscan pane with the olive paste on top. This all was served with a rosé of Ciliegiolo grapes from Collecapretta in Umbria, similar to but different than the wine from Bisson in Liguria in previous posts.
Now, I’m really excited, so I explore the topic of Farinata online at length. Farinata is a Ligurian thin cake made of chickpea flour. I had made “socca”, a thinner pancake-like version from Nice years ago, but was not crazy about it. Giannatempo’s recipe sounded better, and there was supporting evidence from a number of online sources, too. After collecting about a half dozen of these recipes, I settled on a hybrid approach, based on her recipe, this YouTube video, and one from my Rose Pistola cookbook:
Strangely, even though I have read this book cover-to-cover several times over the 15 years I’ve owned it, I never considered this recipe before. In any case I made Farinata for dinner last night — three different versions in terms of toppings, taking advantage of the caramelized onions Barbara had made last weekend when we had pizza. The results were all superb, although the one with Niçoise olives was a little too salty. They were served with a pasta-less version of layered vegetable lasagna, topped with mozzarella, which Barbara had made the other night. Wine choice was just right: the Kajanero again.
An added benefit for some people is that farinata is totally gluten-free, and it makes no sacrifices to flavor or texture, in my opinion.
Mangia bene, poco e spesso (Eat well, a little, and often.)