I remember dearly the times when I was a student in Genoa, a place I still hold close to my heart. I used to go to the local focacceria to buy freshly baked focaccia and farinata all the time; these two are actually very popular street food in Genoa. You might have heard of focaccia – sort of a flat oven baked bread that has a similar texture to pizza dough. Focaccia is usually made out of white flour and yeast.
Farinata on the other hand is made out of chickpea flour. It consists of only three basic ingredients, and the result is a delicious, savory, pancake-resembling flat bread.
The legend of how this recipe came into being is also quite entertaining. The Genovese fleet was returning from battle against Pisa in 1284, as it encountered stormy seas. Bags of chickpea flour and barrels of oil tipped over and mixed with the salty water of the sea, resulting in slurry. As there was a scarcity of food the soldiers collected the slurry, and in an attempt to make it more palatable, let the mixture dry in the sun, until it resembled a sort of a pancake. Back on land, the Genovesi perfected the recipe to how we know it today.
In reality the recipe contains very few and inexpensive ingredients, that are available in Liguria, but there are many variations of it throughout Italy.
I personally love a farinata as bread replacement or for a quick lunch, together with a green salad. Chickpea flour is an excellent source of fiber, and contains many nutrients, such as iron (27% of RDI per 100g), vitamin B6, magnesium and calcium. The flour is also high in protein, and naturally – gluten-free.
It is really easy to prepare, and kids love it too (I know mine does ;)). So let me quickly share with you how to make it, so you can go and give it a try today.
- 100g chickpea flour
- 300ml room-temperature water
- 16ml olive oil
- 3g sea salt (or more to taste)
- 1/2 tsp of fresh rosemary (optional)
- Place the chickpea flour in a bowl. Gently pour the water over the chickpea flour, and whisk the mixture until there are no flour lumps. You will get a mixture that resembles pancake batter.
- Cover the bowl. Let the batter rest at room temperature at least for one hour, best for 4-5 hours. The chickpea flour will absorb some of the water. Remove the bubbles that have formed on top of the batter.
- Pre-heat the oven to 250 degrees Celsius.
- Use a pizza pan or a shallow baking pan with a diameter of 32cm. Coat the pan with some olive oil.
- Next, add the olive oil, salt and rosemary to the batter and mix it well. Pour it over the coated pan.
- Carefully place the pan on the upper oven rack and let it bake for about 10 minutes before you check on it.
- Pay attention to the farinata, it usually takes about 25-30 minutes in the oven to be ready.
- You’ll know your farinata is ready, when it is set, has a light crust on top and is golden-brown in colour.
- Remove from the oven, let it cool down, then slice and enjoy immediately.