Farinata simply means: made with flour.
A farinata made with chickpea flour is called Cecina and is usually served as an appetizer, either baked very thinly or more like a pie. It can also be eaten between two slices of bread or foccacia and makes a wonderful lunch.
This version of farinata is made with polenta and has the consistency of a thick porridge. Its origins can be tracked to the city of Pistoia, north-west of Florence and it is almost exclusively eaten in winter because of the abundance of kale at that time of year. The leftovers are usually eaten for breakfast the next day, grilled or fried in a bit of olive oil.
Usually a vegetarian dish, I have to admit that adding a bit of smoked bacon in here does not hurt. You will have guessed that it can easily be transformed into a vegan dish if that tickles your fancy.
You can also deconstruct this dish and serve the vegetable mixture and the beans on top of soft polenta. How ever you have it, it is always comforting and satisfying.
Adapted from Tuscany from Phaidon
2 L vegetable or chicken broth
250 g kale, chopped and hard stems removed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 red onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2-3 leaves sage
1 carrot, chopped
1/2 celery stalk, chopped
2 large ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 small can of beans (borlotti, cannellini, flageolets)
1 cup polenta
4 tablespoons Pecorino Romano
salt and pepper
1. Bring the broth to a boil and add the kale. Cook for a few minutes until tender. Fish it out with a slotted spoon, transfer to a board and chop finely. Set aside.
2. In a skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic and sage and cook until tender, a few minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook until you have the consistency of a purée, about ten or fifteen minutes.
3. While the broth is boiling gently, add the polenta in a fine stream, whisking constantly.
4. Purée half the beans or pass through a fine sieve. Add this and the whole beans to the polenta along with the tomato mixture and the chopped kale.
5. Cook, uncovered, for 40 minutes, stirring once in a while, until the polenta is cooked through.
6. Stir in the cheese and adjust for salt and pepper. Serve in warm bowls with crusty bread on the side and a glass of Chianti.