Farinata hails from the coastal region in Tuscany/Liguria. It’s akin to flat bread, but made simply with chickpea flour, water and olive oil. I’ve made this multiple times since coming back from the Tuscan region and it’s been a total hit. With the holidays hitting hard — Hello? How did that happen so fast? — farinata makes great party fare.
It’s sans gluten, which is a party must have these days. I’m not gluten-free, but as an equal opportunity eater, I’m in! You can eat farinata completely plain — which you absolutely should at least once, because it’s crispy and golden on the outside, soft and smooth on the inside. Served up with a simple arugula salad dressed with lemon and you’ve got a perfectly delicious light meal.
You can also step it up by adding truffle butter, prosciutto and a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds (shown below). This is how our farinata was served at Cafe Verzano in Florence — the flavors screamed fall from the tops of the Apennine Mountains. You can get creative with addition of simple seasonal toppings — just limit it to three add-ons to let the flavors shine.
A quick note about truffle products. If you’re going to hunt down truffle products, you’ve gotta know that truffle oil is most likely not flavored with any part of the truffle. Sorry. Check out this NY Times article on the truffle oil smoke and mirrors. You’ve got to go deep on reading ingredients and make sure what you are getting is the real deal flavor.
Back to the farinata, this recipe is super simple: a basic dump and mix, but the batter does need time to settle. I will make up the batter when I’m in the kitchen grabbing lunch, then it has time to sit before dinner prep. Also, make sure to skim any foam that rises to the top. I remember reading somewhere that the foam of the chickpea batter is what some people have trouble digesting. On that note, here’s the recipe!
Farinata: Chickpea Flatbread from Liguria
1 cup chickpea flour
1 1/3 cup warm water
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper
6 tablespoons olive oil (divided)
In a bowl, mix the flour, water, salt, pepper and 2 tablespoons olive oil until smooth. It should look like crepe batter. Cover the bowl loosely with plastic wrap and let it sit at room temperature for 2-6 hours. 45 minutes before you plan to serve, place a 10 -11” cast iron skillet in the oven, turn it on to 450. Using a large spoon skim any scum that has risen to the top of the batter.
Once your oven (and now cast iron pan) are good and hot, add the remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil – it will dance around the pan, follow by pouring in all of the batter. Move the pan in circular motions so the batter covers the pan entirely.
Bake until golden brown – about 20 minutes. Turn out onto a wooden board and cut into wedges. Add toppings as desired.