Vegan Feasting – The Almighty Farinata

6 Feb

I finally was able to have a real go at one of Tal Ronnen’s more involved vegan recipes from his book The Conscious Cook. We had a couple of friends over for dinner, one is a vegan, and one eats like a vegan by proxy. I decided to make a fingerling potato and green bean salad with miso dressing, wild mushroom and roasted tomato farinata with artichoke aioli and vanilla pannacotta with orange sauce. YEP, all vegan!

The salad was lush – I’d definitely make that again. The key was the dressing: brown rice vinegar, yellow miso paste, garlic, shallots, dijon mustard, agave syrup and chives. Tossed over crisp green beans and firm slices of boiled fingerling potatoes – a good start to the night.

The main course – also in the book – was the farinata. Grant and I had this when we were in Northern Italy and totally fell in love. It’s basically a griddle-cooked pancake made with good olive oil, gram flour (chickpea flour), cream, and salt and pepper. If there’s a bakery that serves farinata in Turin, the locals memorize when the next batch comes out of the oven and queue up to get a slice before it’s gone. Seriously good stuff.

This recipe was, of course, a vegan adaptation.

Wild Mushroom Farinata with Artichoke Aioli and Roasted Cherry Tomatoes
(Courtesy of Chad Sarno in The Conscious Cook)

Farinata Batter
3/4 – 1 cup olive oil
1 Tbsp sea salt
3 cups warm water
1/5 – 2 cups gram flour (also called besan) – NOTE: I had to use almost double to get the consistency required
2 Tbsp chopped rosemary

To make the batter, add all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. You are looking for the consistency of pancake batter, so add more flour if necessary. Set aside

Artichoke Aioli
1 cup whole raw cashews
1/2 cup plain, unsweetened soy milk
2 garlic cloves
1/4 cup maple syrup (note: makes it quite sweet, I might use a bit less next time)
3 Tbsp brown rice vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
sea salt
2 Tbsp finely chopped chives
1/5 Tbsp finely minced tarragon
1/4 cup coarsely chopped artichoke hearts

To make the aioli, combine the cashews, soy milk, garlic, maple syrup, vinegar and oil and blend until smooth. Season to taste. Transfer to a bowl and add the chives, tarragon, artichoke hearts and capers. Taste it. I found mine too sweet, so I added another 1/4 cup of the vinegar to balance it out. Set aside.

Roasted tomatoes
250 g cherry tomatoes (on the vine if you can)
3 sprigs fresh thyme
olive oil
sea salt and pepper

Crank your oven to it’s highest heat. Toss the tomatoes in olive oil, salt and pepper, and 3 sprigs of thyme. Roast on about 250 degrees celcius for 10-15 minutes until skins start to split and blacken. Turn the oven off and keep the tomatoes in to keep warm.

1.5 cups loosely packed wild mushrooms (chantarelles are good, but expensive)
2 Tbsp Earth Balance (or any other vegan butter substitute)
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbsp chopped chives

Heat a heavy-bottom frying pan over medium heat and toss in some sea salt and leave for 1 minute to create a non-stick effect. Melt the Earth Balance, toss in the garlic and mushrooms and cook for about 4-5 minutes until the mushrooms release their juices. Toss in the chives. Season. Set aside.

Make the farinata.
Put a plate in the oven to keep it warm. Heat a frying pan or a crepe pan over medium heat, melt a small amount of Earth Balance, swirling the pan to coat evenly. Grab a soup ladle, and pour one ladle full into the pan. Leave it for about 2 minutes until bubbles start to form in the middle. Flip it over and cook for another minute or so until both sides are nice and golden brown. Transfer to the warm plate in the oven to keep warm and repeat until you’ve got enough farinata.

Golden brown farinata

Now, wipe the pan clean and while it’s still very warm, toss in some pine nuts to toast in the residual heat…this way, they won’t burn (pine nuts are expensive!).

To serve, place a warm farinata on a plate, add some mushrooms, tomatoes, a couple tablespoons of the aioli, some toasted pine nuts, fold over, and then pour some more aioli on the top. Top with chopped parsley.


Your vegan friends will love you

One Response to “Vegan Feasting – The Almighty Farinata”

  1. liz February 20, 2011 at 5:31 am #

    killing it – amazing yumness. I miss you…but mostly your delicious dinners.

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