A Pancake Of A Different Sort
It never ceases to amaze how little more than flour and water can combine to create a delicious and substantial base for a meal.
Be it bread, pasta, pizza or in this case, “Chickpea Pancake (Farinata).”
This quick and easy recipe is from “At the Table of la Fortezza” (Rizzoli, 2022), of which I received a review copy.
The recipes take inspiration from Lunigiana in the northwest region of Tuscany, where author Annette Joseph, a cooking and entertaining authority, renovated a medieval fortress, La Fortezza, with her husband.
She proudly follows a “zero-kilometer diet,” meaning most everything she consumes is local. With a culinary garden, vineyards, and nearby forests, her ingredients come from a mere 30-mile radius of La Fortezza, with the only exceptions being balsamic vinegar from Modena and Parmesan from Parma.
Bring a taste of this region to your own home with dishes such as “Rosemary-Smoked Branzino,” “Chestnut Ravioli with Chard and Ricotta,” “Braised Chicken and Porcini with Chestnut Polenta,” and “Limoncello Granita with Whipped Cream.”
After making papparadelle from scratch with chickpea flour, I was pondering how to best use the remainder in the bag when I spied this savory pancake recipe in the book.
Just whisk together chickpea flour with water, a splash of olive oil and a pinch of salt to create a thin batter.
Pour into a hot cast-iron pan. A 12-inch one was advised, but I used the 10-inch one that I have with fine results. Place the pan into the oven to bake.
The recipe gives the option to put the pan under the broiler at the end if the top isn’t browned enough. I would make this a mandatory step because it really crisps up the top nicely.
The pancake gets only a final shower of freshly ground black pepper before serving, leaving me just a little skeptical of how tasty it could possibly be.
I needn’t have worried because this unassuming pancake packs a surprising wallop. It has a deeply nutty taste. The warm tickle of black pepper is really all you need on it.
Soft and fluffy, and thus better suited to eating with a fork than your fingers, the pancake has an almost eggy quality even though there are no eggs in it.
Morever, since it’s made with chickpea flour, it’s gluten-free. In fact, it’s lower in carbs and calories than wheat flour, and is rich in fiber, protein and potassium.
Enjoy the pancake as an appetizer with cocktails, as a light lunch with a green salad, or as a perfect accompaniment to soups and stews at dinner.
And give it up for a few humble ingredients that can be so transformative.
Chickpea Pancake (Farinata)
(Makes one 10- or 12-inch pancake)
1 cup chickpea flour, available at most groceries
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for cooking and finishing
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground black pepper
In a large bowl, slowly whisk 1 3/4 cups water into the chickpea flour until combined. Stir in 2 tablespoons oil and salt. Cover with plastic wrap and let the batter rest at room temperature for at least 1 hour or up to 12 hours.
When you are ready to bake the pancake, preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a 12-inch (or 10-inch) cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the batter — it will cover the bottom of the skillet.
Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake for 20 to 30 minutes. After about 20 minutes, check doneness by inserting a knife in the center of the pancake to see if it comes out clean. If the top has not yet browned, set it under the broiler for 1 or 2 minutes. (This will also crisp up the top for a really nice texture.)
Let cool completely, then transfer the farinata to a platter or cutting board. Cut into wedges, drizzle with additional olive oil, and top with a ridiculous and obscene amount of coarsely ground black pepper. Serve warm.
Adapted from “At the Table of la Fortezza” by Annette Joseph
Another Recipe with Chickpea Flour to Enjoy: Missy Robbins’ Chickpea Pappardelle with Chickpeas, Rosemary and Garlic
Yet again, this one looks really interesting, Carolyn. I promise to try it “as-is” first time around, but I really, really, *really* want to maybe crisp a thin layer of cheese on top of it too. Oooh, or dipping sauce on the side? Seems like a virtually endless number of things you could do with it — not that there would likely be any left after just snarfing it down straight from the oven, mind you.
Hi Carroll: I was tempted to sprinkle on some Parmesan while it baked, but resisted because I wanted to try it first unadulterated. I’m glad I did because you can really taste how wonderfully nutty it is when it’s just got the black pepper on it. I’ve seen other recipes that top the finished pancake with caramelized onions or mushrooms, so it definitely takes well to embellishments. 😉
This chickpea pancake would make a nice accompaniment to so many dishes. It reminds me of a chickpea pancake that I had in Nice many yeas ago but it was more crepe like.
Hi Karen: So true! I enjoyed it with soup. So interesting that so many different parts of Europe use chickpea flour in this similar way.