I absolutely love cookbooks (and I have far too many but never enough). Yet I rarely follow a recipe - what I love most about cook books is finding inspiration and new ideas to try.
This particular recipe from Anna Jones' The Modern Cook's Year caught my eye for its double inspiration: two familiar ingredients/dishes - pancakes and courgettes - each given a new twist in a joint dish, though you could easily take each component and vary further as you please.
Btw, chickpea flour is gluten free, and this is easily a vegan dish. And the pancakes can be made ahead of time too.
FOR THE FARINATA: 150g chickpea (gram) flour, 450ml water, 100ml of olive oil, 1 tsp salt * this should be enough for 4 pancakes, to vary quantities use 3x as much water (in ml) as flour (in g)
Whisk the flour and water into a very thin batter (it's meant to be like that).
Set aside for at least 20 mins, longer if you can (get going with the topping in the meantime).
When ready to cook, heat the oven to 200C.
Whisk in the olive oil and salt, and add some herbs if you like.
Add some extra oil to a small pan and get it very hot on the hob, then pour in the batter
Let it sizzle briefly on the hob (a minute max), then put in the oven for about 15 min, until set and golden brown on top.
It should be crisp on the outside and soft in the middle, and come off the pan easily - keep warm while you make the next one.
TIP: If you have to feed more than two it saves time to bake it on a baking tray and cut into portion pieces once set (I learned this from Rachel Roddy).
FOR THE TOPPING: courgettes, garlic, a small fennel bulb, finely sliced (optional, but a great addition if you have some), lemon (zest & juice), olive oil, a handful of herbs (mint, basil or dill all work well here)
Slice the veggies and put in a pan with some olive oil and a very generous pinch of salt and black pepper.
The salt will help draw juices out of the courgettes so avoid adding any extra water (if it threatens to stick at first, lower the heat and add just a spoonful of water; more juices will emerge soon enough).
Cook over a low heat for at least 40 mins, longer if you can, stirring occasionally. You want the courgettes soft and collapsed.
Add the herbs, and adjust with lemon juice and salt if necessary.
Serve the soft courgette mix on top of the farinata.
We like crumbling feta cheese on top - you can also try capers, chopped olives, a drizzle of pesto or a handful of herbs for extra flavour.
And of course you could have any kind of topping you fancy on your farinata pancakes!