Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Farinata with Friends

Mark your calendars: the third season of the Fairmount Neighborhood Farmers Market will start July 8! With the Olympic Trials in town, we have to be patient this year, but we'll be rewarded with abundant fresh fruit and produce from our favorite farmers. The beginning of the third season has me reflecting back on the market's inception with a chat I had with DeeAnn Hall, owner of Eugene City Bakery, about how nice it would be to have a neighborhood Sunday Farmers Market. As we explored this possibility, we received valuable advice from Lynne Fessenden of the Willamette Farm and Food Coalition and Dan Armstrong from the Southern Willamette Valley Bean and Grain Project. DeeAnn talked with the owner of Sun Automotive across the street about using their space, and Ned Forman from ECB talked with lots of farmers, and found a few brave pioneers in Rachel and Tom from SLO Farm, Kasey and Jeff from Lonesome Whistle Farm, and Linda from The Salmon People

The idea for this blog came from a conversation I had with Lotte Streisinger, who founded the Eugene Saturday Market in 1970 as a venue for local artists. Lotte told me that for many years she had a radio show in which she offered recipe ideas for produce on sale at the Saturday Market, and it occurred to me that today's equivalent would be a recipe blog. My first post was early in the Fairmount Market's first season. When the market's first season ended, I continued to crave locally grown, fresh food and to feel inspired to write about it. I joined Lonesome Whistle Farm's heirloom bean CSA, and experimented with all manner of bean dishes. For the market's second season, Rachel and Tom took the reins and were joined by John from Sweetwater Farm, Stephanie from Songbird Farm, Linda from The Salmon Peopleand Dan from the Southern Willamette Valley Bean and Grain Project. The Sunday market continued to be an integral part of my family's routine, inspiring our weekly menus and broadened our tastes to new greens and grains. The following winter, we again joined local CSAs: Lonesome Whistle Farm for beans and grains and Open Oak Farm for produce. Over these seasons, this blog has been a place for me to document my family's growing knowledge and appreciation of our valley's remarkable bounty. Equally satisfying, it has introduced me to some of our region's remarkable people who are committed to the conscientious production of food that is healthy to eat and gentle on the earth.

And so through this blog I recently found myself breaking bread with old friends and new. The recipe for this delicious chickpea flour skillet bread, called farinata, is from Elin England, author of Eating Close to Home. Elin is working on a new book with recipes for beans, grains, seeds, and nuts, entitled "The Fourth Cornerstone."  I encourage you to make this flatbread a new cornerstone of your repertoire to accompany the summer's bounty of vegetables. Happy summer solstice.  

adapted from a recipe from Elin England

1 cup garbanzo bean flour (available from Bob's Red Mill)
1 cup lukewarm water
½ tsp salt
2 Tbsp olive oil for the batter, and more for the pan
½ large onion, sliced thinly (optional)
1 Tbsp fresh rosemary, minced (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 500 degrees. 

2. Whisk together the garbanzo bean flour, water, salt and 2 Tbsp olive oil.  The batter should be about the consistency of a thin pancake batter; add more water if necessary. If possible, let the batter rest for at least 30 minutes, or longer. 

3. If using the onion, sauté the slices with a little olive oil and a pinch of salt in a heavy frying pan over medium heat until soft and caramelized. Set aside.

4. Add about a tablespoon of olive oil to a 10-12 inch cast iron pan and swirl to coat.  Place it in the oven and heat for 5-10 minutes until very hot.  Carefully remove from the oven and add a scant cup of batter.  Scatter a bit of the onion and the rosemary or sage over the top if  you are using them, and return to the oven.  Bake 12-15 minutes until the farinata begins to set.  Now turn the broiler on and broil for an additional 5 minutes or so until the top is golden brown and the sides look like they are getting crispy.

5. Remove to a cutting board, and make a second farinata in the same manner.
Let the farinata rest for a few minutes before cutting into wedges or squares. 

For a thinner, crispier farinata, use a bigger pan with less batter (1/4 inch deep).  You can cook it longer too.  For a creamier farinata, more like polenta, pour in enough batter so that it is ½ inch deep and/or use a slightly smaller diameter skillet. 

You can top your farinata with cooked pancetta, chopped olives, thinly sliced and sauted vegetables, crumbled cheese or whatever suits your fancy. 
Leftover farinata is good cut into chunks and tossed with salad.


Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for continually updating the blog and for supporting some good people (our local producers). I work with, or know, everyone you mention so I check in weekly to see what delish dinner ideas I can steal!

Karen said...

Thanks so much!