Technique Guide: Farinata

Imagine a magical world in which pizza crust contained one ingredient, took no time, and was loaded with protein. Oh wait, that world has existed for centuries! I want to introduce you to Farinata, an Italian chick pea flatbread that will change your pizza game forever.


Farinata actually goes by numerous names depending on the region. According to Wikipedia, there are several names for this dish throughout Italy, plus additional names in France and northern Africa. It takes different identities throughout the Mediterranean region, and is often referred to as Socca, but I'm sticking with more of an Italian interpretation because of my Italian roots.

The magic of Farinata lies in its simplicity. It's a crust made from a batter of chick pea flour, water, and salt. That's it. It's straightforward, absolutely delicious, and such a fun blank canvas for all of your topping aspirations.


I think Farinata is particularly relevant right now because there's so much interest in pizza crust alternatives. This is just my personal opinion, but many of those alternatives contain a bunch of other ingredients (some of them pretty weird) to bind them together. I love cauliflower, but does it really want to be a pizza crust?? I'm not convinced.

Conversely, Farinata is just chick pea flour; no weird starches or gums, no eggs or cheese, no fussing or crumbling.

It's really so incredibly easy, holds together better than any other alternative pizza crust, and doesn't need any time to rise. It's deliciously nutty, crisps nicely on the bottom, and can hold up to a LOT of toppings. Here's how to do it!


Ingredients:
1 c chick pea flour
1 c water
0.5 tsp sea salt
Other add-ins for the batter, see ideas below
Olive oil for cooking
Toppings!

Step #1: Preheat
This simply will not work without a very hot oven and a very hot skillet. Don't skimp on this step! Preheat the oven to 450 and let it stay there for a while. Put an oven-safe skillet in the oven right from the beginning so that both are screaming hot. Let the skillet heat for at least 20 minutes.

Step #2: Prepare your toppings
Decide what toppings you want and prepare them however you need. You can roast some veggies (e.g. squash, as shown here) during the preheat phase. This is also a good time to slice other produce, grate cheese, chop herbs, etc

Step #3: Make the batter
Whisk together a 1:1 ratio of chick pea flour and water. For a 12'' skillet, I like to use a cup of each. For a smaller skillet, you might scale down a bit. Salt it generously; I like about half a tsp of good, flavorful sea salt.

Now is your opportunity to add in any additional spices or herbs you like, although it's definitely not necessary. Some freshly ground black pepper is always a good bet. I love adding lemon zest. I often use some thyme if I'm using Italian-inspired or fall ingredients. I've even added very finely diced dried cranberries. As a general rule, keep the add-ins pretty minimal and make sure they contain virtually no moisture. There's plenty of opportunity to go crazy with toppings later.



Step #4: Let it sit
Just five minutes is fine, but I like the result better if the chick pea flour has a bit of time to absorb the water.

Step #5: Pour the batter
Remove the skillet from the oven. At the risk of stating the obvious, it will be screaming hot! Keep it on a very heat-proof surface and cover the handle with a towel so that it can't be inadvertently grabbed.

Add a small pour of oil and swirl it around; use just enough to coat the bottom of the skillet. Then, working quickly, pour in your batter. You should hear a very satisfying sizzling sound when the batter hits the hot skillet. The bottom will begin to cook immediately, which will give you a crisp, browned bottom surface.

Step #6: Cook the batter
Return the (very hot!) skillet to the oven and let your batter finish cooking. It will need about 15-20 minutes. Keep it in the oven until the upper surface is completely cooked and the edges have browned slightly.


Step #7: Top and finish
When your Farinata is cooked through, remove it from the oven and set it back on your heat-safe surface. The same cautions apply here as before: it's a super hot skillet. Add your toppings however you wish. Cheese? Veggies or fruits? Sauce? Do what makes you happy. After it's topped, return it to the oven briefly if you want to melt cheese. Just a few minutes should do it.

Finally, take the finished product out and add any final flair that you don't want to get too hot. This is a good time for things like balsamic reduction, a squeeze of citrus, or less hearty herbs like cilantro or parsley. Then tilt your skillet and use a spatula to slide the Farinata out onto a cutting board; it should come right out.


That's it! You now have yourself a super simple, protein-rich, delicious flatbread. Slice it and serve it up! It's great as a main course, as a side, or as an appetizer. My preference is to make a few of them, one after the other (allowing the skillet to heat back up in between) with a progression of toppings from savory to sweet.

Speaking of toppings, the ones shown here are Vermont cheddar, thin rings of roasted delicata squash, caramelized red onion, red pear, fresh thyme, and the tiniest drizzle of honey. Yeah, it's pizza heaven.


Please share your creation so I can see how you've interpreted the concept! Tag "The Rogue Brussel Sprout" on Facebook or hashtag #theroguebrusselsprout on Instagram.

If you like the idea of reinventing dishes that typically contain refined flour in unexpected ways, I think you'll love my Delicata Squash Sushi and these Butternut Squash Bagels.

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