I did not appreciate the versatility of chickpeas until making Farinata. The always-creative Mark Bitman wrote an article on chickpeas for the New York Times several weeks back. Out of all the wonderful recipes he wrote about, farinata stood out. Chickpea flour is mixed with simple ingredients (water, oil, salt), broiled in a hot oven for several minutes, then devoured while still hot with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. A delicacy in the shape of a humble pancake!
Chickpeas are one of my favorite legumes to cook with. They are creamy and hearty, full of healthy protein and fiber. Their mild flavor makes it a perfect match to a wide range of flavor combinations. They can be roasted, stewed, and pureed into hummus, but made into bread? I had no idea!
Farinata, as it turns out, originated in Genoa, but it eaten all over Liguria and Tuscany. Of course there are a million variations of this recipe. Some people add rosemary, others add onions, artichokes, or fish. My version is infused with cumin, a spice I often turn to when cooking chickpeas. Fennel fronds add a bit of freshness and a mild anise flavor that goes perfect with the earthy cumin.
Just like with any new recipe, it took several attempts before getting this one right. A good Farinata needs to be thin and crisp around the edges. As the oven preheats to a whooping 500 degrees, mix the ingredients and let rest for ten minutes. Most recipes suggest letting the batter rest for up to 12 hours. I tried this and did not notice any difference between the two batters. You could use a round baking sheet to cook the Farinata in, but I found it easier to usewell-oiled large skillet.
Adapted from here
Makes 2 12 inch pancakes
Time: 35-40 minutes
- 1 cup chickpea flour
- 1 cup + 2 tbsp. water
- ¾ tsp. sea salt
- 1/8 tsp. cumin powder
- 1 ½ tbsp. olive oil
- Handful chopped fennel fronds
- 1 tbsp. vegetable oil for greasing skillet
Preheat oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. In a clean bowl combine chickpea flower, salt, cumin and fennel fronds. Add water and olive oil. Mix until smooth. Let rest for 10 minutes. Place a large skillet into the oven once it reaches desired temperature. Heat for five minutes, then remove and pour about half a tablespoon of vegetable oil. Slowly pour half of the batter into the skillet, swirling it around so that it evenly distributes across the skillet. You should have about a 1/8 of a inch deep pancake. Place pan back into the oven and cook for 8-10 minutes, more if needed. The edges will start to turn brown, and if your oven is hot enough the Farinata will blister slightly. Remove from oven, and repeat process with remaining batter. Reheat the skillet for five minutes before making the second pancake. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt and a drizzle of olive oil and devour while still hot! Enjoy.