Farinata (chickpea flatbread) is very simple to make with just a couple of ingredients…chickpea flour, a bit of good olive oil and some herbs and spices. The result is a delicious flatbread that’s creamy in the middle and crisp on the outside with perfectly charred edges.
Farinata is a popular street food throughout Italy and in the south of France, particularly Nice (where it’s called socca).
What is chickpea flour?
Chickpea flour is simply ground dried chickpeas, and is a staple in many parts of the world.
Chickpea flour can also be called garbanzo, besan or gram flour.
In addition to being tasty, chickpeas offer a number of health benefits. They are high in fiber, manganese, folate, potassium, iron, B vitamins and more. Chickpeas are also a fantastic source of protein. One cup (about 164 g) of cooked chickpeas has almost 15 g of protein.
How to make Farinata
Farinata starts out very simple, but you can make this vegan flatbread as fancy as you wish. It also makes an amazing gluten and yeast free pizza crust!
Like most old recipes that have been passed down from generation to generation, there are many variations for farinata. So, I made several of them to see which we liked better.
Chickpea flour to water ratio
Some recipes use a 1:1 ratio of water to chickpea flour. Others use as much as a 3:1 ratio.
I made farinata using 1:1, 1:2 and 1:3 ratio of chickpea flour to water. When I used 3 cups of water to 1 cup of chickpea flour, the finished flatbread was crispy on the edges and very creamy in the center … it was almost like custard. This version was our least favorite – it was a bit too creamy.
Two cups of water to one cup of chickpea flour yielded crispy edges and a pleasantly creamy middle. This was our favorite ratio, overall. If you are serving the farinata on it’s own, as a snack, appetizer or with drinks, I prefer using the 2:1 ratio.
A 1:1 ratio was crispier all over. The middle was firmer and the edges nice and crunchy. I would recommend this variation if you are planning to use this flatbread as a base for pizza toppings. This is the sturdiest of the three, and will hold up to extra toppings the best.
Is a resting time necessary?
I’ve seen some recipes call for as much as 12 hours of resting time, while other recipes have no resting time at all.
I tried a 12 hour resting time, 2 hour, 1/2 hour and no resting time.
When using regular flour, a resting time after mixing the batter is important because is allows the water to thoroughly hydrate the flour. It also allows the gluten molecules to relax for a more tender finished product.
Luckily, gluten development is not an issue with chickpea flour, but I found that allowing some time for the water to hydrate the flour does result in a creamier consistency.
Half an hour was plenty of resting time, in my opinion. We didn’t find much of a difference with the longer resting times. If you want to make your batter ahead of time, though, it won’t hurt it.
Traditionally, farinata is made either in big cast iron skillets over hot coals, or in copper pans in a wood fired oven. At home, a cast iron pan and your broiler will do the trick. If you don’t have a cast iron pan you can use an oven proof skillet – with no plastic handles.
- 2 cups chickpea flour
- 4 cup water
- 2 tbsp olive oil, (plus extra for the pan)
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp cumin
- 1 garlic clove, (or 1/2 tsp garlic powder)
- 4 tsp rosemary
- coarse sea salt & ground pepper
- Mix together the chickpea flour, water, olive oil, cumin and salt. Let the batter rest for 1/2 an hour, covered at room temperature.
- Preheat your broiler on high. Place a rack on the third position from the top.
- Heat the pan over medium-high heat, and pour in enough olive oil to cover the bottom.Carefully pour in about 1/4 inch of batter.
- Cook until the surface of the farinata is covered in bubbles, like when making pancakes. Don’t flip it.
- Place the pan under the broiler until the top is golden and beginning to blister in spots, and the edges are charred.
- Sprinkle with chopped rosemary, coarse sea salt and ground pepper. Slice into wedges and serve warm.