Farinata (Ligurian Chickpea Flatbread)


I don't remember now where I came across making a thin batter out of chickpea (garbanzo beans) flour and water then cooking it in an oiled skillet. It was definitely good, however, I thought I'd make it again this week as a substitute for buns for polish dogs.

It didn't really wrap as well as I imagined but the flavors of the rosemary-infused flatbread meshed well with the caramelized onions, horseradish and mustard topped meat. All's well that ends well (in a full tummy).

I remembered what I had done the first time: mix one cup chickpea flour with one cup water. It was good but a bit bland, so I went looking for a better recipe. I found it at We Are Never Full, which is also where I learned that this particular preparation is called "farinata" and comes from the Ligurian region of Italy.

I had everything I needed to make it. Fresh rosemary, check. Sage leaves? Er, I haven't had sage in the house in years, but the basil plant is going strong, so check! Chickpea flour? Double check.

I read through the recipe a couple of times and wrote down the necessary quantities on my notepad. Satisfied I knew what I was doing, I puttered into the kitchen. The batter came together beautifully in a matter of minutes. I had just enough time to let it rest the requisite hour. I looked at my notes.. 1/2 cup olive oil? Seems a bit much, doesn't it? Hmm.

I poured it into the cast iron skillet. Mine is a little smaller than hers - an 11" not a 12". But when you're talking about a 1/2 cup of oil, it apparently makes a huge difference. It looked really, really deep. I frowned at it, it didn't go away. So I figured it wasn't really as deep as I thought, let's just try anyway and poured the batter in.

Oh dear. That didn't work at all. The batter floated on the oil. It literally did not touch the bottom of the pan as far as I could tell. No point now in doing anything other than cooking it, really. I wanted to see what would happen so I put it in the oven, closed the door and hoped it would still come out.

You can see where this is going. No, it didn't come out. But it did. I took it out after 30 minutes. The flat bread was completely cooked (and utterly oily) but the flavors were really good. I threw it in the trash, drained off most of the oil into a jar to be reused later, and started whisking up a new batch.

Now, however, the rest of dinner was nearly done. So I whisked it up into a fairly thin batter, heated up the skillet on the range and pan-fried a few in a scant two tablespoons of oil. Those came out perfectly. The flatbread was fluffy and redolent with rosemary. Not as thick or as nice as it would have come out in the oven, but next time, I'll do it with just enough oil to cover the pan and preheat it in the oven. I've written that into the recipe (as much for me as for anyone reading) but it's as yet untried.

Farinata [printable recipe]

Recipe adapted from We Are Never Full

  • 1 1/4 cups chickpea flour
  • 1 1/4 cups water or kefir
  • 1 teaspoon of chopped rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • pepper
  • olive oil

Combine flour and spices in a small bowl, then whisk in the liquid until a thin batter comes together. It should be the consistency of milk or a good crepe batter. Let rest for 1 hour (up to overnight), skimming off any foam that develops.

For oven-baking: Preheat the oven to 425 with a cast iron skillet inside. Take the (hot!) pan out, pour in about 2 - 3 tablespoons of olive oil, swirl to coat as needed, then add the batter. Bake for 30 minutes, checking at 25 minutes, for a crispier farinata, OR bake for 15 - 17 minutes and broil for 2 minutes, for a softer version.

For pan-frying: Pour a tablespoon of olive oil in a nonstick pan or a well-seasoned cast iron skillet. Heat over medium heat. When ready, pour some batter into the skillet, swirling it around a la crepes and flipping halfway through. When golden brown, remove to a waiting plate, add a bit of oil to the pan if necessary and repeat.

We made ours thicker, like pancakes, but you can make them as thin as crepes too.


  1. A related version called socca, from Nice, France, incorporates some olive oil into the batter as well.

. . . By the way, you should really click on the link in the recipe above. The smiling goat is adorable!