|Mushroom and Rosemary Chickpea Cake|
I spent this past weekend in New York City, where I lived for 5 years until just about a year ago. As I've mentioned before, the city and I are pretty much oil and vinegar, and I often can't believe I stayed there so long. However, this weekend reminded me of the two things I miss...my lovely friends and (one guess) the food.
My mom was my traveling companion, and we had an absolute blast enjoying an outstanding variety of goodies—creamy goat butter, simple raw kohlrabi with the finest olive oil and sea salt, fresh and flaky almond croissants and OY, the lamb burger at the Breslin Bar & Dining Room. This outstanding burger comes with french fries that are fried not once, not twice, but thrice. Our eats were a shining example of balance, and my favorite meal came from a little stand in the Union Square Market that was a dear companion during my year at the Natural Gourmet Institute.
Body and Soul Bakery is the Willy Wonky of vegan and gluten-free baked delights, offering unwaveringly creative and scrumptious concoctions on select days at the market. Each of their treats uses whole grain flours, natural sweeteners and local, seasonal produce. Many Saturday mornings on my way to school, I would stop at Body and Soul for a muffin like strawberry rhubarb, sweet potato and sage, chocolate orange.
Occasionally, when I was feeling rebellious and savory, I would grab a slice of their farinata cake, maybe stuffed with roasted eggplant and onions or tomatoes and basil. Farinata, or socca, is a classic Italian street food made from chickpea flour and crusted-up in a cast iron skillet. It can be as simple as flour, oil, water and salt, or you can throw in whatever veggies and seasonings you have on hand. And when it bakes, it creates the most incredible creamy, moist texture. Chickpea flour, also known as besan or garbanzo bean flour, is a fantastic source of protein and fiber, so a slice of this "cake" leaves you satisfied and helps that digestive system move along at a nice clip. It's also completely gluten-free, so it won't irritate sensitive tummies.
Chickpea flour is also is affordable and easy to find. I ordered this 4 lb bag from Amazon and it will last for several recipes. It's pretty important to have a cast-iron skillet for the recipe if you want those golden, crispy edges, but it would still be delicious in a regular, bake proof skillet.
Even though farinata sounds (and, well, is) foreign, it actually makes a perfect snack or meal for people on-the-go...which covers just about everyone? And it is incredibly simple to throw together. I urge you to find yourself some chickpea flour and customize your own Farinata.
My favorite way to enjoy the farinata is with a smear of grass-fed butter, but it is also totally wonderful on its own. You can eat it straight from the fridge or pop it in the oven for a few minutes to re-crisp the edges!