Best Farinata Recipes
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Top Rated Farinata Recipes
A gorgeous, delightful take on classic pizza, this pie is drizzled with balsamic and covered in sweet summer fruit. The crust is gluten-free (and not even too difficult to make), and the toppings are so creative. This recipe is courtesy of Mia Russo Stern, Brooklyn Culinary Arts.
Farinata:a History & Recipe from Piedmont
When I first moved to Turin, I didn’t always have time to have a sit down lunch because of work, work, work… To make sure I got enough calories, I often found myself going to the closest bakery to grab a quick slice of ‘farinata’, an unleavened oven-baked pancake made of chickpea flour, water, olive oil and salt. Chickpeas are incredibly nutrient dense and filling. I found that this delectable pancake gave me the energy to get through those long work days!
Looking into the past, there are historical records of a farinata-like mixture from Ancient Rome. Soldiers would prepare a batter of chickpea flour and water which they would then cook on their metal shields out in the hot sun when needing to fill up empty stomachs quickly and economically. Its modern oven-baked incarnation, however, appears to have its origins in an accidental discovery by Genoese sailors after Genoa defeated Pisa in the Battle of Meloria in 1284.
Story has it, that, on their return journey, the Genoese ships were hit by a storm. The ships’ provisions of oil and chickpea flour were consequently overturned and soaked with salt water. The sailors’ supplies were limited and they had to content themselves with eating bowls of salty chickpea paste. Some refused to eat this paste and left their bowls out on the deck exposed to the sun. The sailors found the sun-baked mixture to be more palatable. Once they were back on dry land, they perfected the batter and baked it in an oven. They called this oven-baked pancake l’oro di Pisa (Pisan gold) in mockery of the defeated Pisans.
During the Middle Ages and early Renaissance, the Republic of Genoa was one of the great maritime powers of the Mediterranean Sea. Through conquest and trade, Genoese farinata went on to be introduced well beyond what is present-day Liguria. For this reason, you’ll also come across it along the Cote d’Azur in France (where it is called socca), Tuscany (cecina) and northern Sardinia (fainè).
Given Piedmont’s proximity and historical ties with Liguria and the former city state of Genoa, farinata is also widely available here, particularly in the south east of the region where the Genoese architectural and culinary influence is most evident. There, it is traditionally called belecauda (meaning ‘nice and hot’ in Piedmontese), most likely as a reference to the temperature it should be eaten at. The town of Ovada, just a few kilometres from the Ligurian border, is famous for the quality of its belecauda seasoned with rosemary. Here is a recipe from Laura Rangoni’s La Cucina Piemontese for preparing farinata all’ovadese.
How to Make Farinata, the Italian Chickpea Pancake
The first time I tried the Italian chickpea pancake known as farinata, I was completely stumped as to why anyone would want to eat such a thing. It was dense and dry and totally unpalatable. The second and third times I tried it, one of them again in the United States and the other in Italy from a vendor at a market in Turin, it was just as bad. After three terrible experiences, I concluded that farinata was a total waste of time, and decided to never go out of my way to eat it again.
Then one day about nine years ago I was working with my friend Piero at his family's vineyard in Strevi, a small village in the province of Alessandria in Piedmont, Italy, when he suggested we drive to a town called Acqui Terme, which he swore had one of the best versions of farinata around. Given my prior experiences, I wasn't expecting much, but it sounded like a fun excursion anyway, so off we went.
I'm so glad I did, because that day was the turning point in my understanding of farinata.
As soon as we walked up to the counter of a little farinata shop and I saw a wood fire burning in a big oven and the heavy, wide copper pans used to bake the pancakes, I knew this was going to be different.
The farinata we ate there wasn't dry at all. Instead it was soft and custardy in the center, with a lightly crisp and brown exterior. Rosemary leaves infused the whole thing with their woodsy pine flavor. I've been in love with farinata—at least, the good kind—ever since.
That farinata in Acqui Terme is one delicious leaf on a branching tree of Mediterranean chickpea pancakes, with roots in Liguria (which Alessandria borders) and branches extending as far as Nice, France, where it's known as socca. From what I've read in my Italian cookbooks, it dates back to Roman times, if not before, when chickpea flour was a more affordable alternative to wheat flour.
One thing that's great about chickpea flour is that it lacks gluten, so there's no risk of the pancake becoming dense and elastic from mixing—there's absolutely nothing you need to add to your farinata batter, aside from chickpea flour, water, and salt, to produce a wonderfully custardy texture. And because the chickpeas come loaded with plenty of their own flavor, which I'd describe as similar to green peas but without any sweetness, you don't have to do much to get delicious results. A little freshly ground black pepper and maybe some rosemary leaves and you're all set.
To make it, start with finely ground chickpea flour.
Add water bit by bit while whisking to avoid lumps.
Once you have a nice, smooth, lump-free batter, you can add the rest of the water.
The key to custardy farinata is to use the right ratio of water to chickpea flour: 3 to 1 by weight, respectively. You'll end up with a batter that looks very thin and watery: That's okay, it's what you want.
Then you let it stand for about 4 hours or so, enough time for the flour to completely hydrate. A foam will form on the surface, so scrape that off with a spoon and discard it.
When you're ready to cook the farinata, the first step is to crank the oven all the way up and let it preheat. Like cooking pizza, you need to get as close as you can to wood-burning oven temperatures (technically, you'll get nowhere close to those high temps, but we do what we can, right?).
If you have a pizza stone or Baking Steel, you'll want to use it here. I set the oven rack on the second highest position, and put my Baking Steel on it—it's going to help push heat up into the bottom of the farinata so that it crisps from below, as it would on the hot hearth floor of a pizza oven.
With the oven fully preheated, take a well seasoned cast iron skillet and put a generous amount of olive oil in it, enough to fill the skillet with an even layer about two millimeters thick. Then give the batter a good stir and pour it into the skillet you want it about 1 centimeter deep, though there's some flexibility on the thickness of the pancake. The oil should mix with it, swirling on top and around the edge.
Then add plenty of freshly ground black pepper, and, if you want, fresh rosemary leaves.
Now switch your oven to broil, and as soon as the broiler has kicked on, slide the skillet onto your pizza stone or Baking Steel and let it go until the farinata has set and is browned on top. You can crack the oven door open with a utensil to prevent the broiler from cycling off.
When it comes out, the farinata should no longer jiggle, though it's okay if it's still a tiny bit soft in the center, since it will set more as it cools slightly.
It's best eaten while still warm, so once it's cooled enough and has set fully, cut it into sections and dig in. Done this way, there shouldn't be anything dry about it.
How to Make Farinata—Italy’s Savory Chickpea Pancake
Jenny Huang Farinatas are most often served plain, either as a starter at restaurants or a snack at outdoor markets, but the rich, faintly chewy pastry also makes an excellent base for a vegetable tart. While the pancake bakes to a thin, crispy layer in a hot cast-iron skillet, I like to roast a sheet pan of fresh summer produce at the same time—there’s plenty of room in the oven for both. Here’s our step-by-step guide to making it at home Jenny Huang
Start with Fresh Pantry Ingredients
Unlike more delicate wheat-based breads and pastries, a farinata is made up of boldly flavored ingredients, so freshness is important here. Like all other unrefined flours, chickpea flour is best consumed within 1 year of milling. To retain its freshness, store in a non-absorbent, airtight container in a cool, dry place for up to 6 months, or in the freezer for up to a year. Before using, give it a sniff if you detect a hint of rancidity, or notice any mites or moths, replace it.
Two other pantry ingredients are key to the batter: extra-virgin olive oil—use a robust Mediterranean style for peppery richness—and dried herbs. Thyme and oregano retain plenty of their aroma when dried, so I often rely on them even in the summer. Take note that olive oil should be stored in a cool dry place for no longer than 2 years and dried herbs for no longer than 6 months.
Make the Batter in Advance
At least half an hour before you plan to cook the farinata, make the simple batter. This will allow the grains of chickpea flour to fully hydrate, resulting in a creamy, slightly fudgy texture at the pancake’s center. Season the batter generously with salt, as the legumes absorb a great deal of flavor.
The batter can be stored at room temperature for up to 12 hours, so consider mixing it before work in the morning for a quick and easy dinner.
Keep the Summer Squash ChunkyWhile the batter rests, prepare the vegetables for roasting. Summer squash can turn watery if allowed to cook slowly to prevent this, cut into chunks, oil liberally, and spread out on a large baking sheet with plenty of space in between each piece. A quick roast in a hot oven will soften and lightly brown the vegetables without turning them to mush.
Preheat Your Cast-Iron SkilletPlace a large, well-seasoned cast-iron skillet in a cold oven and allow them to preheat to 425°F together. While a farinata is traditionally baked in a thick layer in a copper pan, we used a wide skillet to create a thinner pancake. The more equal ratio of pillowy core to crispy exterior gives it a sturdier texture that’s better suited for supporting a heap of roasted vegetables.
Preheat the Oil
Swirl the Batter to an Even LayerBefore closing the oven door to bake, firmly grasp the handle of the skillet and tilt gently to swirl the batter into an even layer, allowing it to come up the edges slightly. When the farinata is unmolded, this step will create a slight lip around the perimeter of the crust, making the pancake more tart-like and helping to prevent any juices from spilling over the edges.
Roast the Vegetables as the Farinata BakesCut into ½-inch chunks, the squash will cook perfectly in the time it takes the pancake to set and crisp. You can use the same method for eggplant or heirloom tomatoes, though depending on ripeness, the tomatoes will cook down to a sweet and jammy topping in about half the time.
Unmold the FarinataAllow the farinata to cool slightly in the pan—it will continue to cook and solidify as it rests. Run a thin offset metal spatula along the edge of the pancake, then tilt the skillet and use the spatula to gently slide it onto a large, flat platter or cutting board.
Cecina or Farinata This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure policy for details. Hot out of the oven farinata is probably one of the best tastes that can instantly throw you back to Ligurian province of Italy. But not only there. Farinata, cecina or torta di ceci [che-chee] is also widely popular in Tuscany, north-west of Sardinia (called &ldquofainè&rdquo), island of Corsica and even French Riviera where it&rsquos known as &ldquosocca&rdquo. One of the legend says that it was originated in 13th century in Genova by an utter mistake. In 1284 Genovese fleet returning with a victory from the battle with Pisa encountered rough seas and had been in a stormy weather for several days. The seawater seriously damaged the hold: bags with chickpeas were softened, a couple of barrels of olive broke down and all resulted in a mashed puree. As the food became scarce everybody was forced to it what had been left. But some Pisans refused to eat it and left the pottage in the bowls. As the weather improved the contents of the bowl had dried out in the sun. Hungry and exhausted they tried the dried meal and were astonished how good it was. Since that time the recipe was improved and adapted and this is how we know it today. Quickly baked in burning-hot wood ovens in shallow copper or aluminum pans farinata is far from a noble meal. But once you try it, it will become your favorite Italian &ldquostreet food&rdquo. Custardy and soft on the inside, golden brown with crispy edges on the outside it conquered a lot of big eaters and I&rsquom sure once you try it you&rsquoll be conquered as well. You&rsquoll need only 3 ingredients to make it. Chickpea or Garbanzo Flour is the main ingredient and it&rsquos highly recommended you use a quality fine-grind flour for the ultimate taste and texture. Hard to find stores you can easily get it online or check local Asian markets, they&rsquore sure to have it. To make the best farinata you should only follow two rules: give enough soaking time and make sure the oven is really hot. And there you have it, Italian Farinata as Romans knew it. But before you get to the recipe, I want to share with you my personal discovery to making out THE BEST of homemade farinata. Use a preheated cast iron skillet pan as described in the recipe. The pan should be really HOT when you pour in the batter. This helps farinata to brown nicely at the bottom like if were using a wood oven. It also helps easier remove it from the pan (just let it sit for a few minutes when you pulled it out of the oven). Farinata
Farinata is a favorite dish served up and down the coast of seaside Liguria. The rustic recipe features chickpea flour, extra virgin olive oil, and herbs, then blistered into a pancake, and finally showered with fresh black pepper. For the perfect appetizer or snack, serve with crisp white wine and a few chunks of aged cheese.
Farinata (Chickpea Flour Pancake)
Recipe courtesy of Eataly
1 cup chickpea flour
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for sautéing & finishing
½ small yellow onion, thinly sliced (optional)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary (optional)
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Whisk the chick pea flour with 1 3/4 cups water, then whisk in the salt and 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Cover the mixture, and set aside at room temperature for at least 1 hour or as long as 12 hours the longer the better.
If you're using the onion, sauté the thin slices in extra virgin olive oil until soft and translucent but not brown. Just before finishing, stir in the herbs to cook for a few moments, then add the cooked onions to the mixture.
Heat an oven to 400°F. Heat a few teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil in a 12-inch ovenproof nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the flour and onion mixture to the skillet. Transfer the skillet to the oven and cook for about 20 to 30 minutes. Check the "doneness" by inserting a knife in the center if the knife comes out clean, it's done. If the top has not already browned, place the pancake under a broiler for 1 to 2 minutes until it is flecked with tasty brown spots.
Remove the skillet from the oven, and let it cool for a minute. Carefully transfer the farinata from to a cutting board. Cut it into wedges, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil (points if it's Ligurian), and top with a ridiculous and obscene amount of freshly and coarsely ground black pepper. Serve warm.
Farinata: the Genoa chickpea tart.
For a 35cm diameter pan
- 190 g of chickpea flour
- 570 cc of lukewarm water
- 8 g of salt
- 90 g of olive oil
- Put the chickpea flour in a bowl and add lukewarm water a little at a time stirring with a whisk so that a smooth and lump-free batter is created.
- Let it rest at room temperature covered with transparent film for at least 4 hours (better 8).
- Mix it every 2 hours and remove the foam that eventually forms on top (these are the impurities that release the chickpeas).
- When the batter is ready, preheat the oven to 280°C - 300°C (530-570°F) and put the empty pan inside.
- Add salt to the batter and stir.
- Take the pan from the oven, be careful not to burn, and pour in the oil.
- Then take a wooden spoon, place it at an angle of 45 ° in the center of the pan and pour the batter inside the pan making it run along the spoon (the batter will gently float over the oil and the oil will create a protective film above and under the batter without mixing with it).
- Bake in the lower shelf of the oven and cook for 20 minutes or until the farinata will not have a light hazelnut color.
- Then turn off the oven and turn on the grill mode for 5 minutes to create a light brown crust on the surface.
- Remove from the oven, wait a minute, sprinkle with pepper and serve hot.
Brief history of farinata
Farinata is one of the most representative dishes of Genoese street food. It is an ancient dish so popular that the Genoese give it a legend to remember one of the greatest achievements in the city’s history: the defeat of the Pisans in the Meloria battle (Pisa too was a Maritime Republic and it was a great rival of Genoa for the dominance over Corsica and Sardinia).
The year was 1284. It is said that on the return from the battle the Genoese fleet encountered a storm. The bags of chickpea flour on board the ships overturned and the flour mixed with the sea water that swept the decks. After the storm the sailors, exhausted and hungry, recovered the batter and put it to dry in the sun. The next day they tasted it and discovered its goodness. When they got home, they refined the recipe baking it in wood ovens and, in defiance of the won enemy, they called it “the gold of Pisa”.
A legend, certainly, because farinata dates back to Roman times and similar dishes – based on water and chickpea flour – are also typical of other Mediterranean regions: in Tuscany, in Pisa – in fact – you can eat cecina, in Livorno a cake of chickpeas, in Sardinia the fainé, in Sicily there are the famous panelleand in Provence a tart very similar to farinata and called socca. In short, the chickpea flour over the centuries has fed and conquered so many seafaring peoples!
Where to buy farinata in Genoa
If you are passing through Genoa, here are some places where I recommend to buy it:
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Cacio e Pepe Farinata
Cook time 6 minutes to 10 minutes
- Calories 119
- Fat 7.8 g (12.0%)
- Saturated 1.0 g (5.2%)
- Carbs 9.0 g (3.0%)
- Fiber 1.7 g (6.8%)
- Sugars 1.7 g
- Protein 3.5 g (6.9%)
- Sodium 143.6 mg (6.0%)
extra-virgin olive oil, divided
Fresh finely grated Pecorino Romano cheese
Freshly ground black pepper
In a medium bowl, whisk the chickpea flour, water, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and salt together until smooth. Cover and let the mixture rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes, or up to 2 hours, to give the flour time to absorb the water. (The batter can also be refrigerated for up to 12 hours. Transfer it to the counter to take the chill off before baking, while the oven preheats.)
When ready to bake, place a rack in the top third of the oven (6 to 8 inches from the broiling element) and preheat the oven to 450°F. You want the entire oven to get nice and hot before broiling the farinata so it bakes evenly.
To cook, place a 10-inch cast iron skillet in the oven and turn on the broiler. Let it sit under the broiler for 5 minutes. Do your best to skim off and discard most of the foam that has formed on the surface of the chickpea flour batter.
Carefully remove the hot skillet from the oven. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and carefully swirl to coat the bottom of the pan. Pour the batter into the skillet and return it to the oven. Broil until the edges of the flatbread are set, the center is firm, and the top is lightly browned in spots, 6 to 10 minutes.
Remove from the oven. Immediately, generously shower the farinata with Pecorino, then top with several generous grinds of black pepper. Let cool for 5 minutes, then carefully slide a flat spatula under the farinata and transfer it to a cutting board. Slice into wedges and serve warm.
Reprinted with permission from Mediterranean Every Day © 2020 Quarto Publishing Group USA Inc. Text © 2020 Sheela Prakash Photography: Kristin Teig Photography. First Published in 2020 by The Harvard Common Press, an imprint of The Quarto Group
1. Add the flour to a large mixing bowl. Slowly pour in the water while whisking until thoroughly combined and there are no lumps. Cover the bowl and let sit at room temperature for 4 hours.
2. Preheat your oven to 450°F.
3. Skim off any foam from the top of the batter. Stir in the salt, rosemary, and 4 TBSP of olive oil.
4. Heat a 12-inch cast iron pan over high heat. Add 2 TBSP of olive oil to the pan, tilt the pan around to cover the bottom evenly with the oil. Heat until the oil shimmers.
5. When the oil is hot slowly pour the batter into the pan and place in the preheated oven. Bake for 14 to 16 minutes or until lightly browned and edges are crusty.
6. Carefully remove the farinata from the pan onto a cutting board using a thin spatula. Drizzle with about 1 TBSP olive oil and sprinkle with freshly ground pepper. Cut into triangles and serve.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ¼ cup fresh sage leaves, rinsed and drained
- 1 onion (6 oz.)
- 1 cup garbanzo flour
- About 1/4 teaspoon salt
Put oil in a 9- to 10-inch ovenproof frying pan. Add sage leaves and mix to coat with oil, then lift out leaves and put in a small bowl.
Peel and thinly slice onion. Put onion in frying pan over medium-high heat and stir often until golden and sweet-tasting, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a bowl, whisk garbanzo flour and 1/4 teaspoon salt with 1 1/2 cups water until smooth.
Reduce heat under onions to medium-low. Push onion slices to center of pan and pour garbanzo mixture around them, then lift onions so batter can flow under them. Sprinkle socca with sage leaves. Cook until socca feels dry when lightly touched and is browned on the bottom (lift carefully with a spatula to check), 12 to 14 minutes.
Broil 6 to 8 inches from heat until top is lightly browned, 3 to 4 minutes.
Cut into wedges and serve with a wide spatula. Add salt to taste.
Canned option: If garbanzo flour isn't available, omit it from preceding recipe. Instead, drain 1 can (15 1/2 oz.) garbanzos, reserving 6 tablespoons of the liquid. Whirl garbanzos, reserved liquid, and 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour in a blender until very smooth. Use in step Mixture will still feel moist on top when browned on bottom, step 4, and will take 3 to 4 minutes longer to brown when broiled, step