Lucini Cinque e’ Cinque Review and Giveaway

[Disclaimer: I received a package of Lucini products for free from the company.  I was under no obligation to write this review or, if I did write it, to provide a positive assessment.]

[What you can win: three bags of Cinque e' Cinque mix--Traditional, Rosemary and Chili (vegan, gluten free, sugar free, ACD-friendly; two cans of vegan, sugar-free, gluten free, ACD-friendly pizza sauce; a bottle of olive oil; and a beautiful Lucini whisk to mix up your cinque!]

A few months ago now, I received a lovely email from Laura at Lucini Italia asking me if I’d like to give their new product, called Cinque e’ Cinque, a try.  A native Torontonian, Laura explained that the Cinque acquired its name because “you’d get 5 cents worth of the cinque, and five cents worth of bread.  Lucini doesn’t bother with the bread (so not necessary) but keeps the name.”  Back in Italy, this standard rustic fare is made from chickpea flour and can be compared to a “chickpea frittata.”  Lucini has re-created the authentic version here in North America using specially milled flour to achieve the traditional result, which is slightly crispy on the edges and smooth, creamy, and even a tad custardy inside. It’s traditionally prepared in a cast-iron pan, but that’s not necessary. 

As you know, I’m always looking for more ways to eat natural foods, and especially natural foods that are vegan, gluten free, ACD-friendly and–in this case–really quick and easy to prepare.  The packages contained a single ingredient–their specially milled chickpea flour–which I’d mix up with a wee bit of olive oil, salt, and water.  That’s it!

What did I have to lose?  Besides, Laura was so affable and relaxed about my participation that I immediately felt comfortable accepting the package knowing that I could provide her my honest-to-goodness, no-holds-barred response without obligation.

Well, I needn’t have worried. 

For my first attempt, I decided I’d prepare the cinque “au naturel,” exactly as an Italian country Madre might make it.  I used a full packet of the flour and baked it up in my cast iron pan, leaving half plain and covering the other half with greens sautéed in olive oil with garlic:

And you can see the thick, smooth center in this photo:

I was smitten, immediately.  If you’ve ever had Indian chickpea pancakes (called cheela or pudla) or French socca, you may have a vague notion of what the cinque is like.  I adore pudla and make them all the time, but this cinque was different: smoother, creamier on the inside without being too moist, and solid.  The flavor doesn’t scream “chickpeas!” the way hummus sometimes does; it’s mild and subtle, unassuming enough to pair with almost any other taste, whether savory or sweet.

You can also use half a package for a thinner frittata that is perfect as a pizza base:

[Cinque "pizza" crust topped with Lucini pizza sauce, baby spinach, vegan goat cheese and oil-cured black olives.]

I’ve been eating cinque morning, noon and night.  I think I’ve developed a little addicition.  Luckily, it’s almost fat free and high fiber, with a good amount of protein (9 g) in every serving.  Why had I never heard of these delights before? 

Apart from the cinque itself, I was impressed by the company’s business approach and philosophy.  They still prepare their artisanal products in small batches and use 100% natural ingredients.

The pizza sauce, for instance, contains the following: Tomato Puree, Vine-Ripened Plum Tomatoes, Roasted Garlic, Garlic, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Sea Salt, Basil, Natural Flavor, Oregano, Fennel, Red Chili Pepper, Citric Acid (naturally derived). No sugar; no fillers.  As the product profile tells us, “Lucini Italia’s Pizza Sauce is the only one on the market that uses fresh California plum tomatoes picked less than 12 hours prior to the sauce being made. It is never produced off season with tomato paste.” If I had the time, this is the kind of sauce I’d make myself.

Can you have a crush on a food?  If so, Lucini has converted me into a teenager again.  For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been pining for the stuff, waiting breathlessly until our next meeting.  Seriously, I have eaten cinque five times in the past three days. (Luckily, it is available at several Toronto-area stores so I won’t have to go through withdrawal).

Here’s how I had it for breakfast yesterday:

[Traditional cinque made as directed, then spread with one cup of the sweet variation of my Sweet Potato Spread, topped with baby spinach, arugula, black plum slices and a smattering of pomegranate seeds. . . return to oven for 2-3 minutes, just to heat through.  A divine way to start the day!]

And I Want You to Try Some, Too! 

The kind people at Lucini want to offer you a gift package filled with samples of the cinque mix, their pizza sauce, their olive oil, and a whisk to prepare your farinata (see photo at the top of this post). 

To enter the giveaway for a free gift package like the one I received simply do the following:

  • Leave a comment at the bottom of this post telling me why you’d like to try Lucini products. 

For extra entries, do any one or more of the following (and be sure to leave an extra comment for each one, please!):

  • Visit the Lucini Italia page and browse through their products. Tell me which product sounds best to you.
  • Mention this giveaway on your blog with a link back to this page. Leave another comment telling me you did so.
  • Mention this giveaway on twitter, including @rickiheller so I can see it. Leave another comment on this page telling me you did so.
  • Mention this giveaway on Facebook with a link back to this page. Leave another comment telling me you did so.
  • Sign up as a fan of Lucini on their Facebook page, here.  Leave another comment telling me you did so.
  • Subscribe to my blog (see icons at upper-right side of any page). Leave another comment telling me you did so.
  • Sign up as a fan of DDD, here. Leave another comment telling me you did so.
  • Follow me on twitter, here. Leave another comment telling me you did so.

The contest closes at midnight on Tuesday, November 16th. I’ll be giving it away to one lucky DDD reader whose name I’ll choose at random after midnight on Tuesday, November 16th, 2010.

Or, if you can’t wait to try the products. . . use this discount to buy!

The website Gilt.com offers invitation-only discounts of up to 70% off the retail price of all kinds of luxury products, but their sales last only 36 hours.  They’ll be featuring Lucini products starting November 11th,  so if you’re interested, be sure to sign up asap! To access the site and sign up, go here.

Good luck, everyone! :)

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