I have an obsession with pancakes; any opportunity to make or eat them for breakfast, lunch, dinner and I’ll take it. So I’ve had to expand my pancake horizons beyond the Shrove Tuesday classics and the fluffy American ones. One of my favourite ways to make pancakes is with chickpea flour. All over the world chickpea (gram) flour is used to make socca, farinata and Indian pudla. Farinata are a distinctly Italian creation.
The pancakes come together easily and quickly and can be made in advance and warmed up if that’s your kind of thing. I serve them with slow-cooked courgettes, ‘trifolati’ courgettes to give this kind their proper name, which means cooking them slowly in olive oil and garlic. It’s also used for cooking mushrooms and truffles. I like cooking courgettes this way, as it brings out a sweet buttery character that you don’t get when you cook them more quickly.
FOR THE COURGETTES
1 tablespoon butter
1 clove garlic, finely sliced
6 medium courgettes (about 1kg), thinly sliced
1 bulb fennel, finely sliced (keep the fronds)
the zest and juice of 1 unwaxed lemon
3 tablespoons olive oil
a handful of mint
FOR THE FARINATA
350g gram (chickpea) flour
120ml olive oil
1 teaspoon flaky sea salt
half the reserve fennel fronds (see above)
2 tablespoons capers
100g soft goat’s cheese or goat’s curd
Start with the courgettes. Heat a large, deep saucepan over a low heat and melt the butter. Add the garlic, courgettes, fennel, lemon zest, a really generous pinch of salt and a few turns of the pepper mill. Cover and continue to cook over a low heat for 1 hour, stirring from time to time.
While the courgettes are cooking, make the batter by whisking the gram flour in a large mixing bowl with 800ml cold water. Set aside for 20 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 220°C/200°C fan/gas 7.
When you are ready to cook, whisk in 60ml of the olive oil, the salt and half the reserves fennel fronds.
If you have two ovenproof frying pans of a similar size (25cm roughly), you can speed up proceedings here by cooking two pancakes at once, but if not, don’t worry. Heat your drying pan(s) on the highest heat and add a tablespoon of oil.
When the oil is so hot it’s smoking, pour a quarter of the batter into the hot pan and let it cook for around 30 seconds so that it’s bubbling on the sides. Place in the hot oven for 15 minutes, until the top is crisp and deep golden. Carefully remove the farinata from the pan; it should be crisp on both sides but still a little soft in the middle. Put it on a warm plate under foil to keep hot while you cook the others in the same way, adding a tablespoon of oil to the pan each time. You’ll easily be able to do them all in the time it takes for the courgettes to cook.
After about 45 minutes, the courgettes should have completely collapsed and softened, almost to a rough purée. Turn the heat off, roughly chop the mint and add this to the pan with the lemon juice and remaining fennel fonds. Check the seasoning – you will probably need some more salt and perhaps a bit more lemon juice.
Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in the farinata pan and once it’s hot, add the capers and cook for about 30 seconds so they are crispy. Scoop out with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.
Serve the courgettes over the farinata, with the goat’s cheese and crispy capers dotted over the top.
Recipe taken from The Modern Cook’s Year by Anna Jones.
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