Today I want to share with you the very very easy recipe for one of the foods I love the most: farinata. I wouldn’t know how to translate it but variants of this recipe constitute the basis for vegan omelettes or frittatas. However, it is not the same thing at all.
Farinata is something special, it feels like a treat, like a pizza, but it’s so much healthier and less caloric, as its only ingredients are water (it’s actually the most voluminous component), chickpea flour, olive oil, rosemary (if desired) and a pinch of salt. That’s it. And it’s not even one of those dishes where the floury component is a lot, it’s approximately 1/3 of the water!
Okay, I am fangirling about farinata, I know. But seriously it’s one of the best things you can possibly eat. I tried it ~10 years ago for the first time, I was doing my MSc in Torino (the original recipe is from Liguria, another region, but farinata shops are very very common in Torino) and I just tried this funny looking yellow slice of food almost by chance and then I was moonstruck, to say. I did not try all the farinata places in Torino, but I think I have tried a good number of them and I have my favourites. When I had to move to another part of Italy for my PhD I was SHOCKED to hear that farinata not only was not a thing there but was nowhere to be found, and the only way I managed to eat it outside my kitchen was a Christmas market where they sold it for a very high price – I still had it, and it was nowhere as good as I wanted it to be.
So, every time I visit my parents I force them to go on a day trip to Torino and have farinata (I mean, I don’t force feed them, but I do have farinata every single time I go).
Since I am afraid I am starting to sound dangerous, here’s the recipe I have honed over the years in the attempt to obtain a quality similar to that I enjoyed in Torino (and in Genova as well, of course). Friends have asked several time to share the recipe, but to be honest this is the first time I sit down and actually measure how much of each ingredient I use, because I have always proceeded with feelings: this feels like the right consistency; from the smell it feels ready, etc. The recipe is fairly traditional, most cooking sites and books recommend similar doses. Some say to bake it at the bottom first, others to bake it in the upper part of the oven first, some add rosemary, some don’t (I sometimes do, sometimes don’t). What changes are usually a few tricks that make farinata how each of us likes it better.
Ingredients: for a 30x20cm baking tray:
100 g chickpea flour, well sifted
~340 ml water
2 pinch of salt
2 tbsp olive oil + some for greasing
Optional tbsp rosemary
Sift super well the chickpea flour in a bowl and pour 1/4 of the water on it. Mix well, to obtain a creamy mixture with no lumps. Add the rest of the water in 2-3 batches, it will help to have a smooth mixture. It will look scary liquidy, but that’s how it’s supposed to be. Let it rest for ~5 h. From time to time, if you are around, give it a whisk to remove the bubbles.
After your soon to be farinata has properly rested, add the salt and the oil and mix well. If you like it, add the rosemary too. For the salt I do this: I throw a pinch of salt in the mix and the rest I sprinkle on top before baking (if you have the salt flakes it’s even better for this last purpose).
The baking tray has to be greased and covered in parchment paper otherwise the farinata will stick.
Now, the baking part: preheat your oven at 250 C static. You will have to bake it in the lowest part of the oven for ~10 minutes, then bake it for ~8 minutes at 200 C in the middle part and the last 5 minutes (you will need to check though, because every oven is different) I bake it in the very upper part because I want the crust on top to be very crunchy and the inside a bit soft. So watch out for that baking paper because you don’t want to set it on fire – as I previously said, this happened to me (with a cake) and it was not pretty. I am sure this is not common and I was a bit too distracted, but still. Another trick I use is that I don’t use as much oil, but I use it in different ways: use use 2 tbsp in the mixture as I said, I use a bit to grease the baking paper and I use a teaspoon before the last 5 minutes: I brush the top of the farinata with a little olive oil to give it that lovely colour and crunch. (but without having to use litres of oil)
Also, be careful when you put the farinata in the oven: it’s very very very watery and it feels temperamental when you have to slide it in the oven. Be super careful. It’s going to be very much worth it.
When the farinata is baked, remove it from the oven and sprinkle with black pepper. This is not something that everybody does, but I like it better like this – usually they give you one of those pepper grinders and you can decide how much pepper you want and if you want it. I tend to be quite generous with that but it’s totally up to you.
Let me know whether you try this recipe here or on instagram @cake_files_ and how it comes out and then we can spend countless hours talking about how amazing farinata is! I am checking up on it literally now and it looks adorable 🙂