Farinata Genovese: Ligurian Chickpea Pancake/Flatbread

Farinata Genovese: Ligurian Chickpea Pancake

Farinata or Faina is a savory flatbread made from chickpea flour whose origins lie in Liguria, Italy. You may recognize it by another name; it’s twin is the popular French version called Socca. I was introduced to this dish by Gera of Sweet Foods who lives in Uruguay where it is wildly popular.

Farinata is made with a loose batter of highly nutritious chickpea flour, water, olive oil and salt. This version also includes thinly sliced onions and fresh, fragrant rosemary. It is baked in a hot cast iron skillet or pizza pan that renders a golden crispiness to the outside with a soft, tender middle. It is sometimes used like pizza dough and topped with sauce and cheese or vegetables. And I have even heard of it being put right on top of pizza.

For such a simple list of ingredients the flavors are surprisingly rich and complex. I was happily surprised. And I can truly say it is one of the most delicious things I’ve ever tasted. I gobbled up half of the pan in a matter of minutes. The taste is almost indescribable because chickpea flour doesn’t exactly taste like chickpeas. Strange but true. It has a unique flavor that no one in my family could identify.

Farinata Genovese: Ligurian Chickpea Pancake

Chickpea or Garbanzo bean flour can be found in the health food section, Italian or Middle Eastern section of your market or in specialty stores. I buy mine at the health food store – the Bob’s Red Mill brand. And while I usually don’t post recipes that require ‘special’ trips to find ingredients this one is well worth it.

This makes a great appetizer straight from the oven warm. Or if you’re like me; dinner. It’s rustic, healthy, and ridiculously simple to make!

Farinata Genovese: Ligurian Chickpea Pancake

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Farinata Genovese
(adapted from Mark Bittman’s The Best Recipes in the World)

1 cup Chickpea Flour
1 + 3/4 cup Water
3/4 teaspoon Sea Salt or 1/2 teaspoon Table Salt
1 teaspoon, at least, ground Black Pepper
5 tablespoons Olive oil, divided
1/2 large Onion, thinly sliced, optional
1 tablespoon fresh Rosemary, optional.

1. Sift chickpea flour into a bowl; add salt, then slowly add the water, whisking to eliminate lumps. Stir in 2 tablespoons olive oil. Cover, and let sit for one hour, or up to 12. The batter will thicken and should be about the consistency of heavy cream.

2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Put a well-seasoned or cast-iron skillet(I used a 10-inch) or 12-inch pizza pan over medium high heat and add 2-3 tablespoons oil into heated pan, swirl to cover pan evenly. When the oil is hot add onion and let it cook for one minute. Pour in batter and sprinkle top with Rosemary.

3. Drizzle a little olive oil over top and bake for 20-40 minutes until it is no longer custardy in the middle and it is firm with the edges set. Turn on broiler and broil top for a minute or two until it takes on a golden brown, spotty color.

4. Allow to set for a few minutes and then carefully remove from pan to a cutting board using two spatulas. Allow to cool briefly. Cut into wedges and season generously with black pepper. Best served warm.

Print Recipe
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Farinata Genovese: Ligurian Chickpea Pancake

I’m linking this to Two for Tuesdays: Celebrate Real Food @ Girlichef Heather’s site.

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Comments

  1. gabriele gray says

    I get the flour (garam) from a local Indian store and use it for many things–but I haven't tried this recipe yet–an oversight I will soon remedy.Garam flour is an excellent source of protein, one ounce has 6 grams of it. I use a small amount to thicken vegetable dishes and the flour (it does need to be cooked some to bring out the best flavor) enhances most dishes.

  2. ''Cucina d says

    I love your blog!!In Italy we call it Cecina (because ch.peas are called ceci)Just to let you know, Barbara

  3. WizzyTheStick says

    I discovered socca a few years ago via a French friend and it is an amazing flat bread. Your picture totally makes me crave a slice right now!

  4. Maria says

    The Italians were renowned sailors, especially those from Genoa, travelling far and wide and graciously leavinga little part of their cuisine and culture in all those ports they touched or emmigrated to. Here in Gibraltar with a big Genoese ancestry, their Farinata with the chickpea flour, is our National Dish, but we call it Calentita, meaning heated, as it is best eaten whilst still warm. The recipe is exactly the same except we do not add the rosemary leaves, and the batter can be left as little as an hour to stand before cooking.

    • Angela says

      I was told by the local people in Liguria (Monterosso – Cinque Terre) that the best is to let the batter sit overnight and bake the farinata any time next day, and I always follow their suggestion and I think it has a better digestive effect.

  5. frappa says

    i’m from genoa and this recipe is great!
    rosemary is not mandatory as also pepper (which i personally really love).
    we have a variation with little fishes too, they are called bianchetti o gianchetti and they are tiny little plancton like fishes.

    cheers!

    • Reeni says

      Ooh I would love to try it with the little fishes! And I love the peppery bite too! Thanks for stopping by – it was great hearing from you!

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