Farinata or Italian chickpea cake is a simple and easy to make dish that originated in the region of Liguria along the western Italian coast. Legend has it, that sailors returning to the maritime city of Genoa after a battle with the city of Pisa (yes, I know…Pisa is part of Italy. Italian history is full of big battles between cities) had bags of chickpea flour tip over, the flour mixed with sea water, then they baked it into a cake to celebrate their victory.
Today it is a popular street food, and although not as well known outside of Italy as the infinitely more famous pesto, it is definitely worth a try in any kitchen.
Did you see how fancy I made mine?
This is not typical. I just did that because it was fun, and it looks amazing. The typical dish uses only black pepper cracked over the top.
Regardless of how you make it – plain or dressed up, this naturally gluten free and vegan dish is high in soluble fiber which aids in digestion as well as keeping your arteries clean and clog free. It’s crispy exterior and slightly creamy interior hold up well for mopping up sauces, and it’s the perfect foil for a little bit of artistic flair to keep the supper interesting!
I served it alongside chicken breast stuffed with artichoke and sundried tomato in a garlic cream sauce. Fresh green beans, just lightly steamed provided a bit of crunch and the play on textures meant that we pretty much ate everything. Only a small bit was saved for lunch tomorrow.
And although farinata is most tasty when just pulled out of the screaming hot oven, that is not by any means the only way that Italians eat it. Most buy it from the store, and eat it at room temperature.
If you can’t find the flour in your regular flour aisle at the grocery store, try the gluten free section or head to the nearest natural foods store to find it. Add the flour to your regular pancake recipe or bread recipe to increase the nutrition and lower the blood sugar spikes from regular wheat flour, or even add it to your cake mix to do the same thing.
*note – you have to soak the chickpea flour for at least 2 hours so it cooks evenly. Don’t have 2 hours to wait? Mix it in the morning and let it sit all day until supper time. The soaking is important 🙂
Farinata (Italian chickpea flatbread)
You will need: a cast iron pan, and a bowel and whisk for mixing
1 1/2 cups chickpea flour
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
1 teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons olive oil plus more for the pan
Whisk flour and lukewarm water together in a bowl, cover, and let sit for at least 2 hours. It can become foamy, and legend has it, that those bubbles can also cause bubbles in the digestive system (if you catch my drift. haha, get it? ), so just use a spoon or ladle to skim off the foam after it soaks.
Preheat oven to about 500 F, and place the rack on the second level down from the top. Heat the cast iron pan on stovetop over medium heat.
Once the pan is hot, pour in enough olive oil to fully coat the bottom, don’t be stingy. Swirl the oil around. It should start to smoke immediately. Pour in the batter, take off the heat and place in the oven.
Because I put topping on mine, I set the timer for 15 minutes, take it out, and then arrange the toppings. The pan is so hot that it will continue to cook the bottom even when the cake is out of the oven. Brush the veggies with oil, and put back in the oven for another 10-15 minutes or until the veggies are done and the cake is nicely brown.
USE GOOD OVEN MITTS – IT’S REALLY HOT!
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