Recipe of the Week: Farinata with Arugula, Pear, Honey, and Pecorino

What? A savory "pancake" with a beautiful Italian name that can be topped with all sorts of great ingredients? A great basic recipe that is flexible enough to make into tons of different dishes? My ears perked up...or my eyes bulged....or my mouth drooled...or something like that happened. Anyhow, I liked the idea a lot!

This week's Recipe of the Week is Farinata with Arugula, Pear, Honey, and Pecorino shared by Food52.com.

"Farinata" is an Italian word which basically means "made of flour". It's a crisp pancake made from a very simple base of chickpea flour, water, and a drizzle of olive oil. Now, if you're not familiar with it, you might say "Chickpea flour? Really? Who has chickpea flour?" Actually, believe it or not, chickpea flour is pretty easy to come by. In particular it's pretty popular in Middle Eastern and Indian cooking, but it's become readily available in many mainstream markets and certainly in the health food markets like Whole Foods Market. And cost? Surprisingly inexpensive. As an example, Bob's Red Mill sells a pound of Chickpea Flour (or "Garbanzo Bean Flour" - same thing) for $2.69.

This recipe takes about 45 minutes. You begin by making the dough (which takes almost no time at all) and then letting it rest, covered for about 20 minutes. You whisk in a tablespoon of olive oil just before cooking. Then you cook the pancake in oil  over medium-high heat (in a big, oven-proof skillet) on the stovetop. This part takes just a little skill as you release the edges of the pancake as it cooks from the sides of the pan and drizzle just a bit of olive oil around the edges. When the batter begins to bubble transfer it to a 425-degree preheated oven for about ten minutes. Then, boom, you're done! Just top it and serve.

In this recipe they top the farinata with arugula leaves, slices of pear, and a few shavings of pecorino or any hard cheese you choose. Then you drizzle on some honey and a few flakes of salt. This is a great way to top it off if you ask me! But as the author says: "You can make it as fancy as you like, topping it with anything from small tomatoes and fresh basil to caramelized red onions and fennel, or you can serve it plain with a sprinkling of salt." So experiment and see what you like. The farinata is the key...the topping is up to you.

As I mentioned above, this recipe is found on Food52.com, one of my favorite food and cooking sites. It was shared by Skye McAlpine who runs the website FromMyDiningTable.com. Skye is a writer from Venice, Italy who shares (in her words) "a collection of stories and recipes from my dining table". Be sure to check out her site for a wonderful taste of Italy from an insider's perspective. Beautiful stories, food, and photography.

I think you'll absolutely love this great Italian recipe. It's easy to make and oh so flexible. Give it a try and be sure to share with us the topping combinations you've tried! Happy Friday and have a wonderful weekend!