This is a typical Italian simple recipe (originally from Tuscany and Liguria, but you can find it in other parts of Italy as well). Just a few basic ingredients (chickpea flour, water, and extra virgin olive oil), paired together to give you this tasty result – great eaten straight from the oven, or reheated, or even cold. It’s a versatile food – good as a snack, or paired with a salad/soup for lunch, or as part of a savory breakfast… why not?
There was this little vegetarian and vegan cafè in between my house and the college in Bologna, and sometimes I was stopping by to grab something for lunch: almost every day they had freshly made super thin cecina and it was so good! Light and nourishing, perfect for a busy afternoon spent studying or working in the lab.
So, here there is my recipe for cecina. This is one of the recipes that I often share with my clients, it’s perfect when you are busy, but at the same time, you want to stay healthy and get your nutrients.
Cecina (or Farinata)
- 200 g chickpea flour
- 500 ml water
- 1 tsp ground black pepper (even better if it’s freshly cracked)
- 3-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- a pinch of salt
- fennel seeds, ground cumin or other spices (optional)
In a mixing bowl, add the water and spices, then slowly add the flour using a whisk to mix everything really well (to prevent lumps of flour). Leave to rest for at least 30 min, but even a couple of hours or overnight if possible (if you leave it to rest overnight you may (depending on the temperature of the room) have to add a little bit of water before baking since chickpea flour absorb water easily). Mix well again before baking and add 1 tbsp of olive oil. Place on a baking tray – the result should be thin, between 1-1.5 cm and 2-3 cm. You can use some baking paper or those reusable non-stick trays since tends to stick a lot to the pan – or you can add some oil on the bottom of a non-stick baking tray. Bake in a preheated oven at 180°C until there is a nice golden crust (a few minutes before taking it out from the oven, add on top some olive oil and spread it all over the surface, then put it back in the oven – that’s optional, but adds a nice extra flavor). Allow to cool well before removing from the pan (if you are using baking paper, remove the paper+food and place on a cooling rack). It will keep well in the fridge for 2-3 days.
You can prepare the plain version first, then try adding different spices to the mixture or spinach or carrots or courgettes, for example. If you add vegetables inside the batter, add them just before baking.
Alternatively, you can decide to top your cecina with some sauteed spinach or chard or kale or cavolo nero (any other similar dark green leafy vegetables will work well). Prepare your sautéed greens in a pan with a little bit of olive oil, chilli flakes or cayenne pepper, and black pepper – it will take a few minutes for them to be ready (chop them finely before or after cooking). You can also add some crumbled goat cheese or feta or chopped cashews for a dairy-free option. Try also this combination: yogurt, baked pumpkin, capers, and fresh thyme: delicious!