I usually reserve my chickpea flour for indian-inspired dishes like besan burgers. It is also a main ingredient in the vegan buckwheat crepes. But last Saturday I discovered a new, non-Indian use for my big sack of chickpea flour: Farinata, aka Socca.
Farinata is a thin, crisp, pizza-like pancake from Liguria, Italy. It is made by stirring chickpea flour into a mixture of water and olive oil to form a loose batter, and baking it in the open oven.
I took my recipe from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. He summarized Farinata’s main attractions in his 2005 The Minimalist column in the New York Times:
The batter is quicker to put together than pancake batter; it can rest for an hour or even half a day, or not; it is baked in a normal oven, finished in a broiler and done in about 20 minutes; it’s served hot or warm, to be eaten with the fingers. And it’s irresistible.
His recipe (posted below) uses 4-6 Tbsp of olive oil. I used only 2 Tbsp with stellar results. I’m sure I’ll be making this again and again. Its salty, rosemary-infused flavor is reminiscent of focaccia, and it has the eat-with-your-hands appeal of pizza. In fact, you can even use Farinata as an alternative to thin pizza crust.
I served my farinata with baked eggplant, olive and caper sauce, and lots of fresh rocket.
Speaking of eggplant, check out Jes’s amazing eggplant tofu burgers. I have to make these. And speaking of burgers, Mangocheeks’ celeriac and horseradish burgers inspired me to purchase a celeriac at the farm shop last night. The recipe is from Rachel Demuth, who, coincidentally, I’ll be seeing this May at her cookery course in France. I’ll use her burger recipe to get me pumped for more good eats to come next month.
One last note. After Friday’s lament about too much dairy, I came across these ten vegan breakfast ideas on The Kitchn. I’m digging the Idli idea, and this recipe from one of my favorite indian cooking bloggers, Mahanandi, who also has a killer recipe for chana masala. Perhaps I’ll be back to my vegan mojo real soon, but not until I finish up all the cottage cheese and milk in the fridge.
- Breakfast: Buckwheat crepes (not vegan) with cottage cheese, fresh fruit and Greek yogurt
- Lunch: Chana masala with cauliflower, chapati, raita and avocado
- Afternoon stroll: Took a walk around the farm with Tim. The wildflowers are starting to bloom already. Spring is here!
- Dinner: Farinata with baked eggplant and olive and caper sauce.
Buckwheat crepes with cottage cheese, fresh fruit and Greek yogurt
Chana masala with cauliflower, chapati, raita and avocado
Farinata with baked eggplant and olive and caper sauce
1 cup chickpea flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon, at least, ground black pepper
4 to 6 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 large onion, thinly sliced, optional
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves, optional.
- Heat oven to 450 degrees. Put a well-seasoned or nonstick 12-inch pizza pan or cast-iron skillet in oven. Sift chickpea flour into a bowl; add salt and pepper; then slowly add 1 cup lukewarm water, whisking to eliminate lumps. Stir in 2 tablespoons olive oil. Cover, and let sit while oven heats, or as long as 12 hours. Batter should be about the consistency of heavy cream.
- If using onion and rosemary, stir them into batter. Pour 2 tablespoons oil into heated pan (I used a much smaller amount of oil than this, just enough to keep it from sticking to the pan), and swirl to cover pan evenly. Pour in batter, and bake 12 to 15 minutes, or until pancake is firm and edges set. Heat broiler, and brush top of socca with 1 or 2 tablespoons of oil if it looks dry.
- Set farinata a few inches away from broiler for a few minutes, just long enough to brown it spottily. Cut it into wedges, and serve hot, or at least warm.
Yield: 4 to 6 appetizer servings.