(Note: this post was originally published on December 15, 2019. The date above reflects migration to the new platform.)
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!
Here's what you'll need for this easy crust! Note that this is for a 12'' diameter skillet; scale up or down as needed.
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. This is a good opportunity to prepare your toppings, make the batter, and sip on a glass of Italian wine.
Decide what toppings you want and prepare them however you need. You can roast some veggies (e.g. squash, as shown in these photos) during the preheat phase since the oven is on anyways. This is also a good time to slice other produce, grate cheese, chop herbs, etc. The farintata cooks pretty quickly, so it's good to have everything else ready to go.
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 no moisture. There's plenty of opportunity to go crazy with toppings later.
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.
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. You might need to tilt the skillet sideways a couple times to convince the batter to spread out, sort of like making a crepe.
Return the (very hot!) skillet to the oven and let your batter finish cooking. It will need about 15 minutes. Keep it in the oven until the upper surface is completely cooked and the edges have browned slightly.
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 any 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. Slice it and serve!
That's it! You now have yourself a super simple, protein-rich, delicious flatbread. It's really sort of magical, isn't it? And I promise you this is EASY! If you can make a pancake, you can make Farinata (actually, it's even easier than a pancake because you don't need to flip it). This isn't some fussy, labor-intensive alternative crust like cauliflower.
Farinata great as a main course, as a side, or as an appetizer, depending on your application. 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.
It makes me so happy to hear from you and see your creations! Please leave a comment below and let me know what you think about this recipe. If you post a photo on Instagram, hashtag #TheRogueBrusselSprout and tag me (@TheRogueBrusselSprout) in the post text so that I'm sure to see it.
This classic Italian flatbread is a one-ingredient, high-protein, easy-to-make wonder. It's made from chick pea flour! It's the go-to pizza base in our house, and I hope it will be in yours too.