VDP: Farinata (Socca)

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Another Americanized name for this pie is Chickpea Pizza. However, I just posted about pizza. Real pizza. Farinata my friends is not pizza. It does not taste like pizza nor look like one. It has no cheese, no sauce and no topping. Farinata is more like a pancake, or crepe really. It is simple, rustic, Italian and French (where it is known as Socca. Click here for David Lebovitz’s account of the best Socca in Nice) and very delicious if you eat it within minutes of baking. After that it tastes like what I imagine soggy cardboard would taste.

Farinata originates from the Italian region of Liguria. It is a street food and locals are very passionate about it. The proper way to make it is to cook it in a special type of pan that makes a large thin pancake. In my home I’ve made it successfully in a baking sheet and, with better results, in my seasoned cast iron pan. Other than salt and pepper, all a Farinata needs is chickpea flour, water and olive oil. I used to have to go to a specialty ethnic store to buy the chickpea flour, now my local supermarket carries it in it’s Ethnic foods section, more specifically the Indian/Pakistani section. The flour is very powdery and has a heady smell of chickpeas. By adding water and olive oil to the flour, I made a very loose batter using the recipe from Nancy Harmon Jenkins’ “The Essential Mediterranean” as a guide. Following the recipe, I baked the pie (divided into two) in lightly oiled cast iron pans in a very hot oven. The Farinata a bit crispy on the edges and the bottom, but soft on the inside. It needs to be seasoned with a good hit of black pepper as soon as it comes out from the oven, sliced and eaten to be appreciated. I love this as is and ate most of it all by itself. I did make a tomatoey lentil stew as a supplement to the Farinata as well though.

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