Pancakes for dinner?

farinata_01After reading about the great deals on chickpea flour at Sahadi’s, Pennywatcher Jamie recommended I try a recipe with the same flour, but from the other side of the Mediterranean: Farinata Genovese.

A farinata’s like a giant Italian pancake, cooked in a cast-iron skillet. It uses remarkably few ingredients: just chickpea flour, water, olive oil, onion, and rosemary, but cooks up to a delicious consistency: crispy on the outside with a creamy interior.

The short ingredient list means it’s both simple to cook and cheap. The whole thing, which serves four as a meal or many more as an appetizer, costs less than a dollar to make and requires just a few easy steps. Find Jamie‘s favorite recipe, from Mark Bittman’s The Best Recipes in the World, after the break.

Farinata Genovese: Ligurian Chickpea Pancake, ITALY

  • 1 cup chickpea flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 small yellow onion, thinly sliced (1/3 to 1/2 cup, loosely packed, to taste), optional
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves, optional

1. Combine the chickpea flour with 1 3/4 cups water in a bowl; whisk together to eliminate lumps. Whisk in the salt and two tablespoons of the olive oil and let the batter sit on the kitchen counter for at least 1 hour and as long as 12. The batter will become slightly thicker as it sits.

2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Put a well-seasoned or nonstick 12-inch pizza pan or skillet over medium-high heat and add 3 tablespons of the olive oil. When the oil is hot, after 1 or 2 minutes, add the onion and rosemary if you’re using them; let them sizzle for a minute, then add the batter. Drizzle with a little olive oil and bake for 20 to 40 minutes, until the farinata is no longer custardy in the center. If you have a separate broiler, preheat it during the last 10 minutes or so of cooking.*

3. Turn the broiler on. Set the farinata a few inches away from the broiler heat for a minute or two, just long enough to brown it spottily, but not long enough so that it colors evenly or burns.

4. Remove the farinata from the pan with two spatulas–this is where a nonsitck pan comes in very handy–and transfer it, carefully, to a cutting board. Let cool briefly, then cut it into wedges and grind a generous amount of black pepper over all. Eat while still warm out of the oven, with additional black pepper or olive oil as desired.

*It may be less authentic, but if you’re pressed for time you can also cook this the same way you’d cook a frittata, putting the pan on the stovetop over medium high heat just until the batter sets (more like 5 minutes) and then running it under the broiler to get that spotty brown top. -Ed.

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