Cecina or Farinata

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, 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.

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Cecina (or Farinata)

Ingredients:

  • 200 g chickpea flour
  • 500 ml water
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • black pepper
  • 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.

Chickpea and buckwheat tacos with marinated aubergines

Are chickpeas already part of your pantry? They are definitely a staple in mine and I usually try to stock up on both dry chickpeas and flour. If you are not used to cook with this kind of flour, give it a go! I love how food tastes when using chickpea flour, but I also really appreciate how it can be a handy option for a quick lunch.

What’s so special about chickpeas? They are high in fibre and protein (they have both soluble and insoluble fibre). This makes them a good ingredient not just for maintaining a healthy digestive system, but also to keep under control the levels of cholesterol and sugar in the bloodstream. They are especially rich in potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, and vitamin B6. This composition makes chickpeas a great addition to the diet to help the body fighting stress (another reason to love them!).

These simple tacos are a great idea for a healthy and tasty lunch or dinner – you can easily change the preparation of the batter or the filling… to make them even more delicious, according to your taste buds! I can’t count how many times I’ve made them at home, and these are some of my favourite variations:

  • add mushrooms to the filling (simply cook them with the aubergines)
  • add milled flaxseeds to the batter (approx. 2 tbsp for the quantities written below)
  • add red cabbage on top of the aubergines: you can use it raw, with a splash of lemon juice or you can heat a little bit of olive oil in a pan, then add the red cabbage and stir for a couple of minutes, add the lemon juice and stir until there’s no liquid left. You can also use fermented red cabbage.
  • add some melted ghee in the batter (approx. 3/4 tbsp solid ghee for the quantities written below)
  • add rocket or other greens on top of the aubergines (for example microgreens)
  • add mozzarella instead of feta or goat cheese (I would use approx. 40-50 g of mozzarella for each person)

Hope you will like them as much as I do, and don’t forget to get creative while cooking! Chiara x

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