Farinata di Ceci is a savory Italian chickpea flour pancake that’s soft on the inside, crispy on the outside and is made in under 15 minutes with just 3 basic ingredients. Also known as Socca in France, it's naturally vegan and gluten-free, and makes the perfect appetizer or side to serve with soups and salads.
Farinata originated way back in Roman times, when Roman soldiers were traveling home to the city of Genoa, on the Ligurian coast, after defeating the Republic of Pisa at the battle of Meloria. The seas were rough on the Tuscan coast, causing barrels of oil and bags of chickpea flour to spill all over the Genoese ships, mixing with salt water to create a thick batter, which then dried out in the hot sun. The hungry sailors then ate it and were quite surprised when it actually tasted pretty good! That's how Farinata became known as "the gold of Pisa" or "Pisan gold."
Farinata goes by a several different names, like torta di ceci or socca on the French Riviera. It's a popular street food throughout Liguria and is often referred to as a savory chickpea pancake, but I like to think of it more as a savory flatbread. Farinata is similar to Sicilian panelle, except panelle is cut into squares and deep fried, while farinata is made from a thinner batter and cooks in a large, wide copper pan in a blazing hot wood ovens. My Italian chickpea and veggie fritters are similar as well.
It's an incredibly easy recipe to make with just chickpea flour, extra virgin olive oil, warm water and salt, cooked in a very hot oven. pouring a batter of chickpea flour and water into a scorching hot pan and cooking for a few minutes under the broiler until it's browned and slightly charred. This chickpea flatbread recipe is incredibly delicious, with a doughy center and crispy, crunchy edges. It makes a great base for a gluten free pizza or as an alternative to bread to serve along with dishes like shrimp scampi or cioppino.
Why this recipe works
- Only 3 inexpensive ingredients.
- Ready in 15 minutes.
- Versatile - Use it as a side, appetizer, pizza crust or snack!
- Vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free, nut-free and sugar-free, making it perfect for various diets.
- Chickpea flour - aka garbanzo bean flour, is slightly nutty, gluten-free, and high in protein. It’s also lower in carbs compared to regular all-purpose flour.
- Olive oil - Used in the batter and the pan.
- Salt - kosher salt for the dough and flakey sea salt, such as Maldon, for sprinkling on at the end.
Step by step instructions
- Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F and place an 8-inch cast iron skillet on the top oven rack to heat up. Whisk the chickpea flour and salt together in a medium bowl, then slowly stream in warm water as you whisk.
- Continue whisking until smooth, then whisk in 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Set the batter aside to rest as the oven heats up.
- When the oven is heated, remove the pan and add the remaining olive oil, swirling it around to coat the entire pan. Pour the batter over the hot oil and give it another swirl to cover the entire bottom. If needed, you can spread the batter out with a spatula so that it’s even in the pan.
- Place the pan on the top rack of the oven and then turn on the broiler, keeping the oven door cracked to prevent the oven from cycling off. When the farinata is golden brown and slightly charred on top, around 5-10 minutes, it's done – keep a close eye on it as it cooks quickly.
- Slice into wedges and serve immediately.
Tips for success
- Using slightly warm water will help the batter mix easier and hydrate faster.
- Letting the chickpea batter rest helps the chickpea flour hydrate. If you let it sit on the longer side, a foam may form on the top– just skim that off and discard it.
- If desired, you can make the chickpea batter up to 12 hours in advance – just keep the batter covered with plastic wrap or in an airtight container and let it sit at room temperature.
- Placing the pan in the oven as it heats is crucial. When the batter hits the pan, the pan needs to be hot! If you forgot to do this, you can heat the pan on the stove until it just starts to smoke.
- Watch the farinata carefully as it cooks – it can go from raw to burnt very quickly.
Chickpea farinata is a really simple recipe when made the traditional way, but it's also common to find it with fresh rosemary and red onion mixed in. You can mix whatever herbs or flavorings as you wish - like black pepper, garlic or chili flakes. You can also add different ingredients, like cheese, cured meats or veggies, on top of the farinata after it cooks.
FAQS About Farinata
You can make the batter up to 3 days ahead of time, just store it in the refrigerator after 12 hours and bring it to room temperature before cooking.
To store farinata that’s already been cooked, place it in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. To reheat, place the flatbread in a skillet over medium-low heat until warmed or in an air fryer set to 300 degrees for 5 minutes.
Farinata or socca (aka chickpea flatbread) is a great low-carb, vegan, and gluten-free substitute for pizza crust. Just make the flatbread and top it with your favorite pizza toppings.
Yes! Chickpea flour is loaded with fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals. Since this bread is made of only chickpea flour, water, salt, and olive oil, it’s low in carbs with no added sugar, high in protein, and has a good amount of heart-healthy fat from the olive oil.
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