This is the savoury version of scarpaccia, that unusual courgette cake from North Tuscany I described in the previous post; in fact savoury scarpaccia is regarded as the original dish by Tuscan food authority Paolo Petroni, whose recipe I used as a template (the sweet version, he says, came later).Savoury scarpaccia is typical of the costal town of Camaiore, but it can also be found in the nearby, mountain Garfagnana area, behind Lucca.
A flash of inspiration made me swap the white flour for chickpea flour: I thought its nutty taste would play well against the sweetness of the courgettes and I was pleased with it. This is not a clueless substitution, by the way: one of Tuscany’s most famous and ancient food is cecina, a deliciously oily pancake made with chickpea flour. I also used some sharp pecorino, one of the great Tuscan cheeses, to emphasize the savoury dimension of the dish. Savory scarpaccia is delicious and has become a favourite.
Scarpaccia salata di Camaiore (savoury and custardy courgette cake from Camaiore, Tuscany)
a 31 x 21 cm tin, oiled, lined, oiled again and sprinkled with fine breadcrumbs: do not use a tin with a removable base as the batter will escape.
500 g courgettes, thinly sliced (a mandolin does the best job here)
a few courgette flowers, cut up into ribbons, if available
2 new season onions, thinly sliced; they are called cipollotti in italian and look like giant spring onions; any sweet and juicy onion will do
60 g olive oil + extra to drizzle on top
60 ml milk
150 g sifted chickpea flour
50 g aged pecorino + a little extra for the top layer
some basil leaves or a little chopped parsley
2 tablespoons breadcrumbs
Mix the courgettes, their flowers (if using) and the onions. Sprinkle them with some salt and leave them to sweat for one hour. Drain, rinse them, squeeze them dry with a cloth.
Preheat the oven to 180 C.
Make a batter by mixing the flour, the cheese, the eggs, the oil, the milk, salt and pepper.
Add the herbs and the courgette. Mix thoroughly.
Pour into the prepared tin, level, dust with the breadcrumbs and with some pecorino, drizzle with oil and bake for 45 minutes approximately, or until a deep golden crusty top has formed.