Farinata is a chickpea flour and olive oil pancake very popular on the coast of the Ligurian Sea. You can easily make this chickpea pancake at home, as you will only need a handful of ingredients: chickpea flour, water, olive oil, salt and black pepper. Traditionally baked in the oven, here’s an instant farinata recipe to make skillet farinata at home in a matter of minutes. An easy recipe for a delicious starter from the northern Mediterranean region.
Farinata, socca, cecina…
Italian chickpea pancake farinata originates in the region of Liguria, in northwestern Italy. It is a typical food found all across the coastal regions of Liguria and Tuscany in Italy, as well as in the surroundings of Nice, in France. Farinata is the Ligurian name; in Tuscany it is most commonly known as cecina, while in France it goes by the name of socca. Despite the different names, the basic recipe and method of preparation is the same all over the extended region where it’s made.
Farinata is made with few ingredients: chickpea flour, water, olive oil, salt and pepper. The traditional recipe advises to leave the batter to rest for about 5 hours, better overnight. The well-rested batter is, then, baked in a baking dish in the oven. Preferably, you would be using a wood-fired oven like those you find in pizzerias.
In fact, many pizza places in nort-western Italy serve farinata as a starter. I remember sharing triangles of farinata while waiting for our pizzas to be served on family gatherings in pizzerias. As a kid I was not the biggest fan of black pepper, and coarsely cracked black pepper is a must feature on proper farinata!
Skillet farinata recipe
The recipe I’m sharing in this post is an instant version, as opposed to the original farinata recipe. Farinata purists will probably frown at this recipe and in a way I understand. I will not claim that my skillet farinata is better than one baked in a wood-fired oven. If you have a chance to visit Nice or Genoa do yourself a favour and taste the real thing.
Then when you’re back home and a sudden craving hits you for that wonderful concoction of chickpeas and olive oil, and fresh rosemary and freshly cracked black pepper… that’s when you should refer to my easy skillet farinata recipe. Jokings aside, this recipe may not compete with the real thing, but it’s a quicker way to enjoy a delicious Mediterranean recipe. My skillet farinata whips up in minutes, making for a perfect snack or appetizer.
How to make skillet farinata
To make this instant farinata on the stovetop you just need to combine the chickpea flour, olive oil (use good quality olive oil!), warm water and salt and bled the mixture with a hand blender. Next, you’re going to warm up a skillet (I like to use a large crepe pan) lightly greased with olive oil, pour in your batter and cook the chickpea pancake for a few minutes on both sides.
As opposed to traditional farinata baked in the oven, skillet farinata cooks like a pancake and needs to be flipped. Finally, when your farinata is ready, it’s just a matter of sprinkling it with freshly cracked black pepper, some extra coarse salt and fresh rosemary if available. Just like the original, farinata needs to be consumed immediately as it tastes best when piping hot and straight from the pan.
Farinata: an allergy-friendly food
Did you know that farinata is naturally vegan, gluten free and low carb? I belong to various travel groups on facebook and one thing that gets often asked is how difficult it is to travel someplace as a vegan or with some other dietary restrictions. Many people associate Italian food with carbs and mozzarella galore and if on a restricted diet think that eating in Italy might be difficult for them.
You can easily picture yourself on your Italian holiday eating pizza every day and that can easily be the case if you wish so. But if pizza does not meet your dietary requirements, rest assured that you will find plenty of alternatives. In fact, there are many dishes in the Italian culinary tradition that are naturally vegan, and farinata is one of them. Bonus point: across northern Italy it is pretty common to find it served in pizzerias so you can get to taste it made in a real wood-fired oven.
Having guests over and in need to cater to some with dietary restrictions? If chickpeas and olive oil are no red flags, this easy skillet farinata could become a great idea for an allergy-friendly starter that is both delicious and easy to make.
Easy skillet farinata (Italian chickpea pancake)
A skillet version of farinata, a popular Italian chickpea pancake. Traditionally oven-baked, this farinata recipe is a quicker version that is made in a skillet on the stovetop.
- 100 g chickpea flour
- 50 g + 1 tbsp olive oil (extra virgin)
- 150 ml warm water
- 1/3 tsp salt
- freshly cracked black pepper
- fresh rosemary
Combine the chickpea flour, water, 50 g olive oil and salt in a container. Blend with a hand blender until smooth.
Pour 1 tbsp olive oil in a skillet - I recommend using a crepe pan. Distribute the oil all over the surface of the pan so to grease it homogeneously. Heat the pan on high heat for a couple of minutes. Pour the batter in to the pan, rotating it to distribute the batter evenly. Lower the heat to medium-high and cook covered until bubbles form and the pancake looks set, about 3-4 minutes.
Flip the pancake like an omelette: slide it onto the skillet lid as if plating it on it, cover with the upside-down skillet and flip back. Careful not to burn yourself with the hot oil in the pan! Cook the flipped pancake for 2-3 more minutes, uncovered.
Plate the farinata and garnish with rosemary, freshly ground black pepper and optionally some extra salt flakes.
Many instant farinata recipes advise to let the batter rest for a half hour in the fridge prior to cooking. I have tried both letting it rest and cooking it directly and saw no noticeable difference in the results. The batter can be stored in the fridge for a few hours, though, and farinata tastes best when it's freshly made. You can make the batter in advance and keep it refrigerated to just cook it when it's time to serve the farinata to your guests.