I haven’t cooked Farinata for so long, years in fact – so long that I have forgotten how good it is. So it is back on the menu, with cauliflower, onions and parmesan. Farinata tastes a little like an omelette, and cooked right, it will slide right out of the pan. Served in wedges or squares with a salad (and some Celeriac Chips!), it makes a lovely lunch or light evening meal.
The idea for this farinata came from Ottolenghi’s recipe for Cauliflower Cake in Plenty More. That recipe uses eggs and I wanted to make something with similar flavours. So this recipe for farinata was created.
Ottolenghi says that cauliflower needs more attention. He says that it’s one of the most magnificent of all vegetables and is as versatile as potato. I reckon he is right.
Cauliflower and Parmesan Farinata
0.25 medium cauliflower, cut into 2cm florets
0.5 red or white onion, peeled
1 cup chickpea flour
1 Tblspn mixed dried herbs
0.5 tspn eno or 0.25 tspn baking powder
½ tspn ground turmeric
3 Tblspn grated parmesan, or other mature cheese
sea salt and black pepper
0.25 Tblspn sesame seeds
0.25 Tblspn nigella seeds
Choose your baking dish. Here I have used 2 smaller round pans, one metal and one terracotta. Or a rectangular baking dish can be used.
Put the cauliflower florets into a pot of simmering water with a tspn of salt and simmer for 15 minutes until quite soft. Strain, and leave in the colander to dry.
Mix the chickpea flour with 1.25 cups water and whisk until a smooth batter is formed. Add the dried herbs, eno, turmeric, grated parmesan and salt and pepper. Mix very well and allow to sit for 30 mins.
Heat the oven to 220C.
Cut a few 0.25cm rings off one end of the onion and fry them in a little oil until soft. (These will go on top of the farinata).
Chop the rest very finely (can use a small-bowl processor) and set aside.
Five minutes before you are ready to cook the farinata, place about 3 -4 Tbspn oil in the bottom of each pan and place into the oven to heat. Terracotta dishes will take longer to heat, so give them 6 – 8 mins. Give the batter a good mix.
Carefully remove the pans one at a time (take care, they are hot with oil in them) and pour in enough batter to cover the bottom well, but without being two thick, about 0.25-0.5 cm. Sprinkle the sesame seeds on top of the batter and the finely chopped onion around the edges of the farinata. Place some onion rings on top then pieces of cauliflower. Carefully return to the oven and bake for 20 – 25 mins until the farinata is set.
Remove from the oven, allow to sit for 5 mins, then either slide out of the pan and cut into wedges, or cut into wedges or squares in the pan. Serve with a simple salad.
recipe notes and alternatives
The keys to success are: enough oil in the pan, the oil is hot before adding the farinata mixture, and the layer of farinata is not too thick. I love it when the edges go crispy.
Left over batter can be cooked with a little oil in a frying pan. Cook on one side until set, then flip over for another minute or so.
Turn any left over onions and cauliflower into soup. Retain the water from cooking the cauliflower and use as stock for the soup.