Monday, 18 January 2016

Silver-Green & Gold!

Fritella di Cardi & Farina di Ceci al Forno con Datterini, Origano & Limone
Cardoons, Baked in a Chickpea Flour Batter, with Date Tomatoes, Oregano & Lemon

As a Sicilian, I love cardoons, THE absolutely most archetypical Winter vegetable on the island! These lovely, long, silver-green cousins to the typical artichokes are a main staple of the Sicilian diet in the Winter months- but it seems a shame to me that they always seem to be prepared in just 2-3 traditional forms...

And that's not me! You know I always want to try something new... and I do!

And here you go my vegan friends- this may look like an omelette or a frittata, but there is not an egg or milk or cheese or anything like that in sight! 

Don't get too excited though- I am not becoming one of "those people"- haha... this was all pure coincidence! But a nice-tasting coincidence at that!

To make this lovely, little fritella, all I needed was 1 medium sized bunch of cardoons, around 2 teacups of chickpea flour, 5-6 cherry or date tomatoes, 1 lemon, a little fresh parsley, a little dried oregano, salt, pepper and olive oil.

This is a great way to serve and enjoy cardoons, which often look clumsy or even ugly- which is such a shame as they are so delightful to eat!

Served this way, I think I was able to do them justice!

Begin of course by trimming, peeling and cutting the cardoons into bite-sized pieces of just 2" at the very most in size. It is a bit messy and a little fiddly, but you do need to trim away the outer layer and all of those tough sinews... but afterwards- oh boy, will you ever be glad you made the effort!

Once you have peeled and trimmed them, pop them into a saucepan of boiling, salty water to cook for 40-45 minutes until tender. 

Whilst that is going on, you can prepare the chickpea flour batter, by adding a good pinch of finely chopped parsley and lemon zest along with salt and pepper and then simply adding water until you have a smooth batter.

Whisk it through thoroughly to make sure it is a smooth blend with no lumps and allow to rest for around 30 minutes, whilst the cardoons cook.

45 minutes later, the cardoons are tender and delicious and all you need to do is to immediate rinse them under cold water to cool them off quickly and to halt the cooking process.

Now add a light drizzle of olive oil to a small frying pan, pour in the batter and then add the cardoons, pressing them down so that they are nicely submerged. Next, add some halved tomatoes and then sprinkle everything with oregano, a little more salt, plenty of pepper and a light drizzle of olive oil.

Bake for 25-30 minutes in a pre-heated oven at around 220°C until firm, crispy on the outside and golden brown.

And there you go- isn't that a fun sight to see, knowing there is no cheese involved? It looks just about as close to perfect as you can get... but wait!

A sprinkle of freshly, finely chopped parsley and lemon zest, not only brings it visually to life, but also adds that all-important freshness and lightness... and it does that in the most wonderful way... So Enjoy!

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