A spring version of cecina

A spring version of cecina

This upgraded version of the crispy Tuscan cecina chickpea pancake is the perfect dinner recipe for the spring.

Thu 28 Mar 2024 3:57 PM

A mid-season dish that’s both gourmet and comforting, yet with the best of seasonal vegetables. This upgraded version of the crispy Tuscan cecina is the perfect dinner recipe for the spring.

Cecina is a traditional recipe whose origin dates back to the 13th century and disputed between Pisa and Genoa. It’s as simple to make as it is nutritious and delicious. With just three ingredients, this chickpea pancake is yet another example of how local recipes are often the most satisfying and sustainable dishes. Garnished with a pea and mint puree, this version of cecina is served with delicate early spring vegetables. To add creaminess and complete the protein component, it is topped with stracciatella cheese.

A fresh creamy version of cecina to celebrate spring

Serves 4
Preparation + cooking time: 1 hour

For the cecina

(ingredients for a cake tin measuring 22-24cm in diameter)

180 g chickpea flour

600 ml lukewarm water

6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper

For the toppings

300 g fresh green peas (350 g if frozen)

Fresh mint, coarsely chopped

Dash of freshly squeezed lemon juice

Olive oil

700 g fresh green asparagus

250 g stracciatella cheese or burrata

Coarse sea salt

Place the flour in a bowl. Add half the oil, a teaspoon of salt and the water a little at a time, stirring with a whisk to avoid lumps from forming. Keep stirring until the mixture is liquid and well blended. Set aside to rest for at least 30 minutes. Pour into the greased cake tin and add the remaining three tablespoons of oil over the top. Bake at 220°C for about 20 minutes. It will be ready when a brownish crust forms on the surface. Remove from the oven, let it cool for about 10 minutes and season with plenty of pepper.

While the cecina is in the oven, scoop out the peas if they are fresh and plunge them into salted boiling water and cook for 10-15 minutes. Drain and set a few aside to decorate the dish. Place the remainder in a mixing bowl with the mint leaves (I like to use a lot, at least 15), a dash of lemon juice, and season with salt and pepper. Whizz with a handheld blender until smooth. Set aside.

Remove the clear, hard part of the asparagus and cook the spears in a pan previously heated with two tablespoons of olive oil. Add some coarse salt and turn over regularly for 10 to 15 minutes, depending on thickness.

Once the asparagus is cooked, you can start assembling by cutting four equal parts of the cecina. Arrange on the plates and add a good tablespoon of pea puree to each one, spreading lightly. Place five asparagus spears per person on the puree, topped with a few pieces of burrata or stracciatella. Finally, add a spoonful of fresh peas and a few mint leaves, preferably the small ones at the end of the stem, which are the sweetest. Season with pepper, and serve!

Tip: Fold the asparagus until they break. This should separate the soft from the hard part.

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