Pizza with faina

Pizza with faina

One of my favorite food-related scenes in movie history, is the moment when father and son go into a restaurant and share a bottle of wine and a mozzarella, in The Bicycle Thief. We recently watched Gigante, an Uruguayan/Argentinian film, that I promise to stop talking about soon. In one scene, our hero goes into a restaurant and orders pizza with mozzarella, a beer, and faina. First of all – it reminded me of that scene in Bicycle Thief to such an extent that I was sure it was a tribute to it. Second of all – what is a faina?!? I was so intrigued that I researched it the second the movie was over. Faina turns out to be a Uruguayan version of socca…a chickpea flour-based bread. It’s mixed with olive oil, herbs, sometimes parmesan, and tons and tons of pepper. And then it’s baked in a hot oven, till it’s crispy outside, though still dense and soft on the inside. And then it’s sliced and each slice is eaten on top of a slice of pizza. How strange but tasty does that sound!

I had to try it. I like making pizza anyway. It’s fun and easy and everybody in my family happily eats it, which is always a pleasure. I’ve been trying for some time to make pizza with a thinner, crispier crust – it had always eluded me. It worked this time, though…I used less yeast, more water and olive oil. The dough was quite sticky, but not hard to work with. I put lots of herbs in the dough, and I topped it with a roasted red pepper tomato sauce, dollops of goat cheese, and lots of fresh rosemary.

And the faina. It seemed such a strange idea to me at first, but when I took one bite, it all made sense! The texture was nice with the pizza, but more importantly, it seemed like a vehicle for the pepper and rosemary…flavors that are nice with the pizza, but tend to get distracted in the sauce were distilled into a perfect form.

Here’s The Bouncing Souls with The Pizza Song. When I was in my early twenties I lived across the street from these fellows, and they lived a few doors down from the legendary Tata’s Pizza. Is that what they’re singing about here? We’ll never know.

PIZZA DOUGH

3 cups flour
1 t. yeast
1 t. sugar
2 t. salt
black pepper
1 t. oregano
1 t basil
3 t. olive oil
1 1/2 cups warm water

Put the yeast, 1/2 cup warm water and sugar in a small bowl. Leave for 15 minutes to get foamy. In a large bowl, combine the flour with the salt, pepper and herbs. Make a well in the center. Add the yeast mixture and the olive oil. Start to mix, and then add about a cup of water. You want it to come together well and be a bit sticky, but still kneadable. Knead for about 5 minutes, slapping it down on the counter a lot. (I’ve read that this gets the glutens working, which is what makes things crispy, but this is not a scientific account, so I can’t guarantee that information.) Put a teaspoon of olive oil in the bowl, roll the dough all around in it. Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and leave in a warm place for an hour and a half to two hours. Punch down. Put back in the warm place for about another half hour or so. This is enough dough to roll out into huge rectangles and stretch across two big cookie sheets. You want to roll it quite flat, if you want a thin crust, as I do.

Tomato sauce

Make this simple tomato sauce. Add 1/3 cup roasted peppers. Season with 1 t. smoked paprika and plenty of basil, oregano and rosemary. Cook till it’s quite thick

to assemble…spread the tomato sauce thinly on each rolled-out crust.

Grate 8 ounces of mozzarella, spread these evenly over the sauce. Dollop the pizza with small spoonfuls of goat cheese. Sprinkle chopped rosemary over everything.

Preheat your oven to as hot as it will go. Mine goes to 550. Put the pizzas in and cook till the cheese is melted and bubbly and starting to brown. Keep an eye on it, it cooks fast once it starts to cook!!!

For the FAINA!!!

1 1/2 cups chickpea (gram) flour
4 T olive oil
1 T. fresh rosemary chopped
1 t. salt
lots and lots and lots of pepper
more olive oil to cook it
1/4 cup very finely grated manchego (Parmesan is traditional, but it’s been so controversial lately, and I had manchego)

Mix the chickpea flour with the rosemary and salt and cheese and lots and lots of pepper. Stir in 1 cup of water. Set it aside for half an hour to absorb the water. Then mix in more water to make a thinnish batter. Just slightly thicker than a crepe batter. I used a rectangular pan to cook this (my toaster-oven tray!) because I’d cooked the pizza on cookie sheets, so it seemed to fit. If you made round pizzas, you could use a tart pan. Whatever you use, you want the batter to be quite thin in it – about 1/4 inch thick. So…put a few tablespoons of olive oil in the pan, and then pour in the batter. Cook at 400 (preheated!) for about 20 minutes, till the edges are brown and crispy. At this point I brushed some olive oil on the top, ground some more pepper on that, and put it under the broiler till it was sizzly.

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2 thoughts on “Pizza with faina

  1. Pingback: Beezza | Out of the Ordinary

  2. Pingback: Tacos with chickpeas, black beans and pumpkinseed basil sauce | Out of the Ordinary

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