Farinata with Rosemary and Pepper (Italian Chickpea Flatbread)
posted by Kalyn Denny on November 16, 2008
This slightly crispy chickpea flatbread called Farinata comes from the region of Italy called Liguria, and it’s something I’ve been wanting to try for a long time. It’s made by combining water, olive oil, and chickpea flour, letting it rest, seasoning with herbs and black pepper, and then baking in an ultra-hot oven, and this same combination of ingredients is called Socca in France and Cecina or Torta de Ceci in other parts of Italy. Since the batter is made entirely with chickpea flour, it’s gluten free and extremely low-glycemic, perfect for a South Beach Dieter who’s been wanting a crunchy snack.
I’ve been to Italy, but not to Liguria, so I have no idea if my way of making this is authentic. The farinata I’ve seen on other blogs looks much more yellow, and I’m wondering if the chickpea flour in Italy may be a bit different, but this version was delicious and it’s definitely something I’ll be making again. This delicious flatbread with rosemary is my entry for Weekend Herb Blogging, now managed by Haalo from Cook (almost) Anything At Least Once, and hosted by Heather from Diary of a Fanatic Foodie this week. Here is more information about WHB if you’d like to participate.
Finding the Chickpea Flourmay be tricky if you don’t live in a big city. I’d check European, Indian, or Middle Eastern markets, or you can follow that link and buy it from Amazon.com. (Full disclaimer, Kalyn’s Kitchen earns a few cents on the dollar when you buy things I’ve linked to, so thanks to anyone who does.)
Most recipes I saw said the flour/water/olive oil combination should rest for a while before it’s cooked. I let it rest overnight the first time and only 3 hours the second time, and didn’t see too much difference in the end result. After the thin batter had rested, I mixed in finely chopped rosemary.
I didn’t have a cast iron griddle like this is cooked on in Italy, so I preheated my pan in the 450F oven before I poured the batter in, then ground black pepper over the top. This pan is 9″ X 13″ but if you’re using the oven I think the pan could be a little larger. (Thanks to a sharp commenter for noticing I didn’t mention that!)
Here’s the cooked farinata, which I cut into cracker-shaped pieces. Since then I’ve read that it’s cooked on round pans in Italy and cut into irregular shaped pieces. I’ve been thinking of buying a round cast-iron frying pan, which seems like it would be perfect for cooking this. I’m also thinking that I made it too thick, after reading about it on other blogs. Stay tuned for more Farinata experiments!
1 cup chickpea flour
1 1/4 cups water
1 tsp. salt
2 T olive oil (plus 1 T more for greasing pan)
1 T finely chopped fresh rosemary (or use a smaller amount of dried rosemary, ground in a mortar and pestle or pounded with something heavy)
coarse ground black pepper
Mix together chickpea flour and salt, mix in water and olive oil and let the batter rest several hours or longer. (Some recipes recommend sifting the flour and salt together, but I just whisked the water into it.)
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 450F, then preheat the pan for about 10 minutes. (I cooked this in a small toaster oven which doesn’t get hotter than 450F. If your oven goes higher, I would use a higher temperature.) Finely chop 1 T fresh rosemary (or grind a smaller amount of dried rosemary) and whisk into batter. Remove pan from oven, pour in about 1 T olive oil and spread around, then pour in batter. Grind a generous amount of black pepper over batter.
Bake the farinata until it’s starting to crisp and brown around the edges, about 20-25 minutes. This is meant to be served warm, but I thought it was also delicious cold, when it become slightly crisp like a cracker.
Since chickpeas are such a perfect low-glycemic ingredient, this delightful snack would be great for phase 2 or 3 of the South Beach Diet. (I had previously listed this recipe as approved for all phases, but I discovered in one of the South Beach Diet cookbooks that all flours are prohibited for phase one, even nut flours and non-wheat flours. I apologize for the mistake.) If you like South Beach Diet friendly hummus, I’m guessing you will like this too. Thanks to a reader named Mare who reminded me in the comments that this would be a great vehicle for delivering hummus to your mouth too!