Rosemary Scented Chickpea Flatbread (Farinata)
Farinata is Genovese street food, a chickpea flatbread, with a crunchy fire scorched crust that gives way to a soft, custard like center perfumed with rosemary! Traditionally, farinata is cooked in a wood fire oven. The fire hits the oven's dome and stretches over the top of the pan, causing the feathery flames to lap at the crust as it cooks. But, if you don't have a wood fired oven, not to worry! I've included cooking instructions for a conventional oven as well and the results are amazing. Divide the batter and bake in two 10" cast iron skillets and then broil at the end to get the crunch and flavor you'd get from a traditional wood fire oven. Like many Italian foods, farinata has a very special origin which makes it not only delicious but historically significant. It was invented in August of 1284, when the Republic of Genoa defeated Pisa in the battle of Meloria in the Ligurian Sea. As the sailors made their way home, the Genoese ships were hit by a violent storm, that knocked over the barrels of chickpea flour and olive oil. The barrels broke and the flour and oil mixed with the salty sea water. Since the sailors had nothing else to eat, they put the mixture in the sun to dry and were pleasantly surprised with the result! Tips:Traditionally, farinata is made in a shallow, round copper pan, but they can be difficult to find in the United States. If you can't get your hands on one, the best substitute is a cast iron skillet.The batter should be no more than 1/3" thick so it cooks quickly and achieves the right texture. This recipe is written for a 15" diameter pan. If you are using a smaller pan, it's best to reserve some of the batter than to overfill the pan.
- 2 cups warm water
- 1 1/2 cups chickpea flour
- 1/2 tbspn salt
- 1 tbspn finely chopped fresh rosemary
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- freshly ground black pepper
- sea salt to sprinkle on top
- Preheat a wood fire oven to 600°F-700°F, or a conventional oven to it's highest setting.
- Pour the water into a bowl and whisk the flour in a little at a time. Continue whisking until the flour is fully incorporated and there are no lumps. If you have an immersion blender, it is a tremendous help.
- Allow the mixture to sit for 4-6 hours.
- Preheat the pan in the oven.
- After the mixture has rested, skim the top and remove any foam that may have formed.
- Then, add the salt and the chopped rosemary and stir until well combined.
- Remove the pan from the oven and pour in the olive oil, coating the bottom of the pan evenly.
- Pour the farinata batter in slowly so it doesn't displace the olive oil. To make it easier, you can pour the batter onto a spoon and let it slide off the spoon and into the pan. No matter how you choose to do it, the batter should float on top of the oil.
- Put the pan in the oven. Use the guide below to determine your cooking time:The oven should be as hot as possible. At 500°F, it should take about 15 to 20 minutes and then broil for a few minutes. Keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn't burn. You can brush it with olive oil to create a crunchier crust if you like. At 600°F – 700°F it should take about 5 to 7 minutes.
- Remove from the oven, add a few cracks of black pepper and a sprinkling of sea salt, slice and serve!
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