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A naturally gluten-free lasagne made with chickpea pancakes (farinata/socca) and filled with three vegetable-filled sauces. A labour of love and good taste. Freezes well, so make double and stash one in the freezer or give one away to someone who needs some healthy comfort food in their life. Homemade lasagne is one of the most glorious of comfort dishes to both prepare and eat. On a dreich and blustery day, pulling out the hand-crank pasta machine, turning its spindly handle and processing a lump of dough into silky sheets of pasta is a deeply satisfying and quite magical experience.

Not much can touch the original form and function of a basic lasagne, those layers of slippery pasta cradling rich tomato sauce and holding a cap of burnished béchamel. You just want to dive right in – never mind the manners. A naturally gluten-free lasagne made with chickpea pancakes (farinata/socca) and filled with three vegetable-filled sauces. A labour of love and good taste. Freezes well, so make double and stash one in the freezer or give one away to someone who needs some healthy comfort food in their life. For some, the sauce holds nuggets of seasoned beef and sauce. While yours and mine may be full of slow-cooked and blitzed vegetables. All delicious, I’m sure. But I feel for those who can’t or wish not to eat gluten.

There are of course gluten-free pasta recipes around (and here), but they seem to require a number of ingredients that people often find difficult to obtain. And one really needs to be a fairly experienced home cook to achieve the kind of silky-smooth texture and mouthfeel that would-be pasta lovers deserve (I’m still fairly amateur at pasta making). Making good pasta takes practice, whether from wheat flour, or the amalgamation of tapioca, guar gum, xanthan, potato starch, rice flour etc (isn’t your mouth watering? 😉 ). It is probably worth giving it a go if you are gluten-intolerant as the bought stuff is often a bit yuck.

However, if you want to have a nirvanic lasagne experience with a lot less hassle, I may just be able to help: chickpea pancakes.making farinata / socca / chickpea pancakes - such versatile little, naturally gluten-free pancakes

Farinata in Italian, socca in French, chickpea pancakes are a really fabulous four-ingredient whole food alternative to pasta sheets. The flour used – often called gram flour or besan flour – is easier to find than xanthan or tapioca flour as it is a staple ingredient in Asian cooking. I always keep a wee bag on hand to quickly whip up some pancakes if I have leftover vegetables, to dunk into shakshuka, or even if I just fancy them with a smear of tapenade and some spiralised courgettes (as you do). The pancakes are also naturally vegan so can be added to any vegan lasagne recipe that you have. Today’s lasagne recipe can easily be made vegan by swapping the called-for ricotta/cottage cheese for cashew ricotta cheese, and using something like Daiya mozzarella-style shreds on the top. No tricky béchamel to make either.

The pancakes themselves are very straight-forward and can either be made up a day or so ahead of time and kept in the fridge, or the batter made the day before and just whisked up and dolloped into a hot lightly oiled pan. Here is the recipe. You will see that I have used them in another lasagne, a warm-weather lasagne, for when the sky is not dreich and threatening to snow. Although I can’t really say “roll on summer”. I will say, “roll on lasagne weather”: I am ready for you!

A naturally gluten-free lasagne made with chickpea pancakes (farinata/socca) and filled with three vegetable-filled sauces. A labour of love and good taste. Freezes well, so make double and stash one in the freezer or give one away to someone who needs some healthy comfort food in their life.

Farinata Lasagne with Creamy Spinach & Roasted Squash {gluten-free recipe}

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: moderate
  • Print

Can I call this lasagne if it doesn’t have pasta? I don’t know, but what I do know is that those who think it is lasagne have happily tucked in and cleared their plates. That’s got to count for something, right? Although the naturally gluten-free and low-carb chickpea pancakes (farinata/socca) are a doddle to make, please use pasta sheets, or even loose slippery coils of cooked spaghetti if you can’t get your head around making the pancakes. Try and grab an end slice for yourself to enjoy the delightful crispy edge.

Just to give you fair warning this, like all homemade lasagne, is rather labour-intensive affair, but I really think it is worth the time and effort. You can make all of the fillings, and even the farinatas ahead of time, storing in the fridge for a couple of days until you wish to assemble and bake the lasagne. It also freezes very well so make a double batch and keep one for a time when you want something deeply comforting but have no energy to prepare a nourishing and satisfying meal from scratch. This would make a wonderful gift to a new mum or someone going through cancer treatment. xx

**You will need: 1 medium-sized cast-iron skillet or round ceramic/Pyrex dish (my skillet is 10.5 inch/27.5cm); one-two saucepans, 1 sauté pan (if not using a skillet), several mixing bowls, baking tray, hand blender (ideally) or blender/food processor**

2 quantities of farinata/socca batter

1 small-medium butternut squash (or other winter squash) – about 500g prepared weight – peeled, deseeded and chopped OR equivalent frozen squash pieces

Tomato Sauce

2 tbsp + 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil – divided use (some for squash)

3 medium leeks, finely sliced and chopped – divided use OR 1 ½ large sweet onions (some for squash)

4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced – divided use (some for squash)

½ tsp (or more) crushed red pepper flakes – optional

1 large carrot, very finely chopped

2 stalks celery, very finely chopped

½ red or orange pepper, very finely chopped

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp fennel seeds, lightly toasted and crushed

2 x 400g tins/cartons best quality whole tomatoes, crushed with your hands or cut up (tip: whole tomatoes are almost always sweeter than bought chopped)

15g fresh basil, torn (save a few nice leaves for garnish if you wish)

Salt and pepper, to taste (I don’t add salt)

Creamy Spinach

400g spinach leaves, wilted in a little water, drained, pressed of water and finely chopped OR equivalent frozen spinach

300g organic full-fat or half-fat cottage cheese or ricotta (or a mix of both) – blend the cottage cheese with a hand blender to smooth it

1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg – more to taste (I use about ¼ tsp, but I like it nutmeggy)

Zest of ½ lemon

1 tsp powdered vegetable stock (optional)

Black pepper, to taste

Top

50g sharp organic Cheddar cheese or vegetarian hard Italian cheese, grated

1 ball organic mozzarella, torn or sliced – optional

1 palmful of dry-cure black olives, stones out and torn – optional

Method

1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F

2. First, the sauce: make it by adding 1 tablespoon of the oil to a medium saucepan and heat on a low-medium flame. Add two-thirds of the chopped leeks or sweet onions to the pan, along with half of the garlic, and soften for five minutes, stirring occasionally. Add in the chopped carrots, celery, sweet pepper, oregano and fennel seeds and sauté slowly for a further 10 minutes – until the carrots are tender. Pour in the tomatoes and bring to a fast simmer; turn down the heat to a steady bubble, stirring occasionally. If you have the time, simmer the sauce for an hour. Taste the sauce and see if it needs some honey or seasoning – I think a touch of honey is a good idea but you may not. Let it cool a bit, add the basil and blend until nearly smooth with a hand blender

3. While the sauce is simmering, toss the butternut squash pieces in the remaining tablespoon of oil and lay in a single layer on a rimmed baking tray. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, until softened. Mash lightly with a potato masher, or transfer to a pan and blend to a rough mixture with a hand blender. Set aside. You want there to still be quite a bit of texture so don’t go too mad with the blending or you will get baby food! Oh, and keep the oven on, but turn it down to 180C/350F.

4. Now take your skillet or sauté pan and heat the 2 tsp of olive oil, add in the leeks/onions and sauté with the remaining garlic until softened. Add the cooked, lightly mashed squash, a few tablespoons of hot water to loosen, and mix together.

5. Onto the creamy spinach. Combine together the cooked and chopped spinach, the cottage cheese, nutmeg, lemon zest, stock powder if using.vegetarian lasagne sauces

6. Once you have all of the fillings and sauce made, prepare the soccas as the socca recipe directs (see link in the ingredients list), laying each one on a plate or tray. They don’t need to stay hot. You can do this a day or two ahead of time too.

7. Layering up time! Spread a thin layer of sauce on the bottom of your skillet/baking dish, top with a chickpea pancake, top this with a good smear of butternut squash, smooth on some spinach and add more sauce. Carry on until you run out of filling and farinata. You may have a little of each leftover, but these are handy to bag up and label for the fridge to add to a future solo spaghetti supper.making farinata lasagne

making farinata lasagne8. Top the lasagna with the grated cheese, mozzarella slices and olives. Bake the lasagne for 35-45 minutes, until bubbly and lightly browned. Let cool for five minutes or so and serve with a green salad. A naturally gluten-free lasagne made with chickpea pancakes (farinata/socca) and filled with three vegetable-filled sauces. A labour of love and good taste. Freezes well, so make double and stash one in the freezer or give one away to someone who needs some healthy comfort food in their life.

open chickpea pancake lasagne

Summer option: Fresh & Light Open Lasagne made with chickpea pancakes

I’m sharing this recipe over at Emily’s weekly #recipeoftheweek post. Go take a look and see what else is there! And have a look at food and lifestyle blogger Emily’s own posts too!

 

28 thoughts on “Farinata Lasagne with Creamy Spinach & Roasted Squash {gluten-free recipe}

  1. Socca…of course!!! I make it all the time but have never thought to turn it into lasagna. Well done, Kellie. I definitely need to try this out on a slow day. Made your tallegio and carrot tarte tatin last week. It was a hit, as I commented over there.

    1. Aw thanks so much for your kind (as always!) comment, Katie. The socca thing is pretty incredible. I just got an email from someone I work with saying she was looking forward to eating this again at the group she leads Christmas lunch that I am catering. 🙂

  2. Very nice!! Pass it down here…!

  3. What a scrumptious dish of comfort! We’re expecting another cold, rainy storm. This would make a wonderful meal at the end of a busy day!

  4. This looks so good! I have never tried socca but must make amends!

    1. Oh Lucy, it is SOOO easy. I make them up a lot and use them in different ways. Or even just nibble plain ones swiped with tapenade. I hope you try them. You may be smitten! Thanks so much for stopping by and taking the time to leave a comment. 🙂

  5. Marisa says:

    I’m going to try this recipe for sure! Looks delicious..and healthy!

    1. Thanks so much, Marisa 🙂 I hope you enjoy it 🙂

  6. what a lovely idea… I had heard of this before but never seen it quite as beautiful! Glorious and so perfect for this in-between time before Christmas. Beautiful! love the snow too!

    1. Oh I didn’t know anyone else was doing farinata lasagne, but I’m not surprised. It’s a natural and really nice substitute for pasta like this. Thanks for stopping by, Dom. 🙂

  7. I totally agree, lasagna is my TOP comfort food. I love the twist of making the farinata, will definitely try it! Mariana x

  8. What a clever idea!! I am wondering if you could also use these pancakes to make GF cannelloni? There is little as comforting to eat as lasagne!

    1. Of course, Jeanne! Almost the whole canon of baked Italian pasta recipes are opened up to coeliacs with soccas. Thanks for taking the time to comment. 🙂

  9. choclette says:

    You are a genius Kellie. Chickpea pancakes are fabulous in their own right, but what a splendid idea to use them as lasagne layers. Squash and spinach sounds like my perfect filling too 🙂

  10. Eb Gargano says:

    What a brilliant idea! It looks so delicious.

  11. This is incredibly inventive. I made farinata before perfect if you are sensitive to gluten but this.. this is so nice made into lasagne. Nice photos too!

  12. Sally says:

    Ingenious. I should have thought of farinita during teens vegan months. Good when you’ve run out of bread. Considering this for the veggie option on Christmas day

  13. Heather says:

    wow! so creative and looks amazing delicious! well done 🙂

  14. EA Stewart says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever craved lasagna, at 6:30 in the morning while drinking a cup of coffee, more than I am now-yum! Lasagna is one of my kid’s favorite dishes, and I usually make it with no-bake rice lasagna noodles, which, smothered in sauce and other yummy things, seems to taste pretty good 🙂 But THIS version looks divine, and worthy of a weekend lasagna baking session!

    1. Thanks so much, EA. I haven’t tried rice noodles but those sound good.I’m not keen on all of the flour blends, but a minimal one like this would probably satisfy me. Happy holidays to you and your family. 🙂

  15. mamasbox says:

    Amazing. I’ll try it with san marzano tomatoes!
    Matt

  16. Adore the idea of this. I love socca and make it frequently. Would never have thought of using it in this way – so very clever!!

  17. kstienemeier says:

    What a great idea! I always use cottage cheese instead of bechamel in my lasagne. But these chickpea pancakes sound like they would add great taste and texture. I must give this a try!

If you have time, I would love to hear from you. Thanks so much!

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