We are in Italy!!! Not only that but... we're getting married next week!! I cannot believe it's finally here! We have friends and family flying in throughout the week and we are running from pillar to post getting things ready and picking people up.
But, otherwise, we are also eating a lot. I am very worried about being able to fit into my dress come the big day. I think the day before I might just have to survive on water and fruit. But, being back in my favourite place in the whole world means that I get to enjoy some really, really, really good food. And historically good food too. Typical Tuscan food is so comforting, even in the summer when you're eating light. Tuscan cheese, fresh olive oil and saltless Tuscan bread... drool.
One thing that the Tuscans have that is shared along the Mediterranean coast is cecina (pronounced chechina). In other parts of Italy it's called farinata and in the south of France it's called socca. It's a cross between a bread and a pancake and it's gluten free so completely coeliac friendly.
I often make cecina at home to have as part of a deli platter with cured meats and cheeses. I was inspired to try something a bit different when a friend of mine (who also loves the Med.) mentioned that it goes really well with ratatouille. I've never been a huge fan of ratatouille, so I tried it with peperonata (also popular in Tuscany).
The sweet silkiness of the peperonata goes well with the savoury sponginess of the cecina. And what goes really well to cut through the sweetness. Soft, salty, crumbly goat's cheese. If you try any recipe this summer, let it be this one. It's easy to make and it's beautifully satisfying.
Cecina con Peperonata
1 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, thinly sliced
5 cloves of garlic, minced
5 peppers (red and/or yellow), sliced
100ml red wine
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
100g soft brown sugar
Salt & pepper to taste
For the Cecina:
200g gram flour
1 tbsp za'atar
Crumbled up goat's cheese
First, make the batter for the cecina. Whisk all of the ingredients together until you have a smooth batter then let it sit for 15 minutes. Preheat an oven to 180 degrees C. While the oven is heating up, put in an iron skillet drizzled with olive oil to heat up with the oven.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil for the peperonata in a big pot that you have a lid for. Sweat down the onions and add the garlic once the onions are soft and translucent. Cook the garlic but don't colour it! Add the sliced peppers, mix everything up and put the lid on the pot. Pour the cecina batter into the preheated skillet and bake for 10 minutes until cooked through.
When the peppers have softened, stir in the wine, vinegar and sugar and simmer until the peppers are meltingly soft. I stirred everything and then put the lid on the pot. I kept stirring every few minutes and replacing the lid to ensure maximum softness.
You'll know the peppers are ready because they'll be soft, sticky and, dare I say it, unctuous. Stir in some salt and pepper and serve it all up. Cut the cecina into portions. Add a dollop of peperonata onto each portion, crumble over some goat's cheese and serve with something refreshing (like rocket).