Farinata is a very thin, savory flatbread or pancake made with water, chickpea flour, oil and salt. It’s a recipe of very ancient tradition and, together with basil pesto and trofie pasta, it’s one of the most characteristic recipes of Ligurian cuisine.
Although it’s among the traditional Ligurian dishes, it’s also popular in Tuscany and Sardinia. Of course, like all traditional Italian recipes, it has different names depending on the place. For example, in Lucca they call it “Cecìna”, in Livorno “Torta di Ceci”, in Sassari “Fainè”.
The characteristics of chickpea farinata are its very low thickness, the crispness of the edges, the softness of the inside with a subtle nutty flavor from the chickpea flour and the splendid amber color. It’s a gluten-free and vegan option, making it suitable for those with dietary restrictions.
It’s easy to prepare, but it requires a resting time of about 4 hours to allow the flour to completely dissolve in the water before cooking.
The secret of a perfect farinata is to bake at a very high temperature, in contact with the bottom of the oven, in a light aluminum or copper pan. Traditionally – and often still today – we use a wood-fired oven, which gives it a special flavor. But don’t worry, your home oven will do just fine.
Farinata is usually cut into irregular wedges or squares and can be enjoyed on its own as a snack or appetizer with salami, cheese and vegetables.
With our step-by-step recipe and useful tips, you will make a perfect homemade farinata, flavorful and mouthwatering!
- Prep Time: 5 Min
- Rest Time : 3 Hours
- Cook Time: 30 Min
- Servings: 6
Doses for a round baking pan about 32 cm (12 inch) in diameter
Kitchen Tools and Equipment
But the key is to bake the farinata in a shallow, lightweight baking pan. Tradition calls for a copper or aluminum baking pan called the “testo” (testu in Ligurian dialect). This is a tin-plated copper baking pan that has always been used for farinata and can withstand high temperatures.
The authentic chickpea farinata pan is handmade from tinned and hammered copper. The traditional Ligurian Testu has these dimensions: diameter 34 cm (13 inches), height 2.5 cm (1 inch), thickness 1.5 mm (0.06 inch). It also has a ring on the edge to hang it on the wall. It’s a very beautiful handicraft object that you can even consider as a characteristic gift.
The authentic Ligurian testu, however, is not a very cheap tool and is often not readily available outside of Liguria. For this reason, an everyday non-stick round baking pan will do just fine. The important thing is that it’s sufficiently thin.
Farinata Recipe: Instructions
Step 1) – Put the flour in a bowl and make a hole in the center. Then pour in the water little by little.
Step 2) – Mix and then pour in all the water. You will get a rather liquid batter.
Step 3) – Skim the foam to the surface with a skimmer. This step is to prevent the Farinata from darkening during cooking.
Let the batter sit for at least 3 HOURS, covered with a lid.
Stir occasionally with a hand whisk and remove the foam if it still forms.
Resting for a few hours is essential to best dissolve the chickpea flour and create a smooth, lump-free batter.
After the resting time has elapsed, add the salt.
Step 3) – Then add the oil and mix thoroughly. We recommend using a high-quality extra virgin olive oil.
Step 4) – Preheat the oven to 250°C (482°F). Lightly grease the baking pan and pour in the batter. If you like, you can flavor the farinata with a few rosemary needles.
PLEASE NOTE: the batter is very runny, so be careful not to spill it. You can help yourself with a ladle and transfer it to the pan a little at a time.
Step 5) – Finally, bake the farinata in a well-heated oven, at the highest temperature, in the bottom part for 10 minutes.
Then transfer the pan to the middle rack. Keep baking by lowering to 200°C (392°F) until the farinata is nice and golden on the surface – this will take another 10-15 minutes.
Here is your homemade farinata! Remove it from the oven and wait for it to cool a few minutes before enjoying it, just long enough to cut it into wedges.
Farinata is great hot and steaming but also at room temperature.
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How to Store Farinata
Farinata di Ceci is best enjoyed fresh out of the oven. But if it leftovers you can store it in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 3-4 days. It is recommended to reheat it a little before serving.
Can I Freeze Farinata?
You can also store farinata in the freezer for up to 3 months. To consume it, simply reheat it in the oven without thawing it previously.
Can I Prepare Farinata in Advance?
You can prepare the batter in advance and store it in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours.
The Key Ingredient: Chickpea Flour
Chickpea flour is obtained by grinding dried chickpeas. It’s ideal for its properties and nutritional benefits within a healthy diet.
It’s a very nutritious food, especially rich in B vitamins. Chickpea flour also has a high iron content.
It has a very low glycemic index and is therefore suitable for people with diabetes. It also contains optimal amounts of fiber, making it an ideal food for proper digestion.
Does Chickpea Flour Contain Gluten?
Chickpea flour is gluten-free and therefore suitable for people with celiac disease who cannot consume wheat flours and derivatives.
Is Chickpea Flour Vegan?
Chickpea flour is ideal for vegans because it’s an excellent egg substitute. Not only nutritionally, but also in terms of its use in cooking.
In fact, it’s a valuable ingredient in many vegan recipes thanks to its ability to bind food without making it sticky and without significantly affecting the flavor.
How to Make Homemade Chickpea Flour?
To make homemade chickpea flour, rinse the dried chickpeas well and leave them to dry for 24 hours.
Then toast them in the oven at 150°C (300°F) for about 15 minutes. Let them cool, then put them in a food processor and grind them until they become a flour. Sieve out the grits.
Farinata di Ceci: Some Variations
The ingredients of the traditional Italian recipe for Farinata are just chickpea flour, water, oil and salt.
- HERBS: Several variations include, as we have indicated, the flavoring of the Farinata with a few rosemary needles. Some also use marjoram or basil, typical herbs of Ligurian cuisine.
- BLACK PEPPER: Another variation on the classic recipe is to add freshly ground black pepper to the freshly baked farinata.
- SALT: Many add grains of coarse salt to the surface of the farinata.
These are the traditional ways to enjoy farinata. On its own, as a snack or light lunch, in its simplicity, perhaps with some seasoning. Of course, you can enrich farinata with the vegetables of your choice, or even with cheese and cold cuts, either before or after cooking.
In the first case, the ingredients you choose become part of the batter and cook together with the farinata. For example, you can add diced mozzarella or grated Parmigiano or chopped zucchini or other vegetables to the water and chickpea flour batter.
In the second case, by adding the ingredients to the already cooked farinata, you can use the farinata as a base, like a bruschetta, or as an accompaniment.
Farinata: Regional Variations
Although Farinata is a traditional Ligurian dish, it’s also very popular in Tuscany and Sardinia, where it’s known by different names.
The most famous are “Cecìna” in Lucca, “Torta di Ceci” in Livorno and “Fainè” in Sassari.
The “5 and 5” sandwich
In the thirties, in Livorno, they created the combination of bread and Torta di Ceci. A winning combo: good, nutritious and, above all, cheap.
In a short time this sandwich became essential, a kind of daily ritual in Livorno.
Thus spread the custom of asking the “tortai” (bakers specialized in chickpea cakes), “5 lire of bread 5 of torta di Ceci”. This is why the sandwich is called “5 and 5”.
Even today it’s not difficult to find the “5 and 5” sandwich. Just go to one of the many “torterie” in the city of Livorno. Many pizzerias in Livorno also offer this typical street food.
Sassari’s Fainè is very similar to Ligurian Farinata: the batter is made with chickpea flour, water and extra virgin olive oil and baked in a pan in a wood-fired oven.
In addition to the plain version, seasoned with salt and plenty of black pepper, in Sassari fainè is particularly popular in versions with onion or sausage.
For the Sassaresi, fainè is not only a street food, but also a complete meal because of the richness of its ingredients. The places that represent the heart of this tradition are the historical establishments that exclusively prepare this dish.
The introduction of farinata (fainè) in the Sardinian city is attributed to the trade between Genoa and Sassari in the Middle Ages and to the opening of the first bakeries in the early 1900s by some Genoese entrepreneurs.
After the Second World War, the workshops were taken over by Sardinian families and the success of fainè multiplied.
What is the Difference Between Farinata and Socca?
There is no difference. Socca is the French version of Farinata. Liguria and the French Riviera are geographically close. Over time, these two regions have influenced each other, especially in cooking.
Socca is a kind of farinata that is very fashionable in France, especially on the French Riviera and in particular in Nice. It’s one of the most popular and fine French street foods, along with Pissaladiere, a savory pie always stuffed with onions and with the addition of anchovies and black olives.
Its original version is simple, just like our Farinata. Socca is made only with chickpea flour, water, oil and salt. However, there is a richer and more delicious version of Socca that includes a filling of stewed white onions, roasted cherry tomatoes and, in the batter itself, the addition of egg whites. A must try!
History and Origin of Italian Farinata Recipe
The farinata recipe is definitely very old and is part of the popular tradition that has handed it down to the present day.
There are two legends about the origin of farinata.
The first story dates back to the occupation of Genoa by Roman troops.
Since wheat flour was considered a luxury, the soldiers prepared this rudimentary pizza with a dough of chickpea flour and water, which they baked in the sun, using their shields as “ovens”.
Another legend traces farinata back to the Middle Ages, to the Battle of Meloria in 1284 against the Maritime Republic of Pisa.
During a storm, sacks of chickpea flour and barrels of oil were spilled on the Genoese galleys and everything was flooded.
Supplies were scarce, and the sailors were forced to eat the mixture of chickpeas, oil, and saltwater that had dried in the sun in order to feed themselves.
Against all expectations, the result was not only edible, but tasty. Over time, they perfected the recipe for farinata.
The dish became so popular that in 1447 a decree was issued requiring that only good quality oil be used in the preparation of the farinata recipe!