Poor Rosemary. Always a bridesmaid, never the bride. Whenever I go out to our balcony, kitchen scissors in hand, it’s usually the flat leaf parsley or a bit of thyme that gets the chop, and hardly ever the rosemary. Not that I have anything against her, but inexplicably, rosemary doesn’t feature much in my cooking. Yet defiantly she still stands, against wind and neglect.
Today, she gets to guest star on top of little savoury chickpea pancakes called Farinata al rosmarino. Her leaves are draped across the top of each pancake, like Michelle Pfeiffer on the piano in The Fabulous Baker Boys. She lends her herby accents to these light and moist pancakes edged with a filigree of crisp batter. And she has the River Cafe Green to thank for it. This wonderful book by Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers is packed with loads easy recipes for Italian vegetable and fruit based dishes. Categorised by months, this book celebrates the best of specific seasonal vegetables : when and how to use them. I really should be utilising this book more often. However, like most of my other cookbooks, once it settled into its space on the shelf, it kind of got forgotten for awhile. Not before I had tried out the recipes for polenta, gnocchi with chestnut and sausage, silk handkerchiefs with pesto, and red wine sorbet – all with great success.
I was reminded of the book again when I saw this post featuring a farinata. Oh yes, a farinata .. one of those things I never got around to making. Plus now I had a good excuse to buy some chickpea flour (also known as besan flour) AND wipe the dust off my trusty omelette pan.
We had these topped with sliced artichokes, bacon, tomatoes, and some salad. The recipe serves six as an antipasto, or three hungry-hungry-hippos as the main attraction.
Farinata al rosmarino :
300g chickpea flour
1 litre tepid water
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon Maldon salt
extra virgin olive oil
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves picked from the stalks
Put the water into a large bowl. Gently pour in the chickpea flour, whisking to avoid lumps. Add the pepper and salt, stir, and allow to sit in a warm place for at least 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 230′C.
Remove the foam from the top of the batter and stir in 110ml olive oil. Pour a further tablespoon of oil into the farinata pan, or frying pan, and put into the oven until the oil is just smoking. Quickly remove and pour in the chickpea batter. The farinata should be very thin – no more than 1 cm deep. Sprinkle the rosemary leaves over the top, and return to the oven. Bake for about 10 minutes until the top if brown and crisp and the middle is still soft.