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Farinata is an Italian chickpea flour flatbread recipe that is also known as socca in the south-eastern part of France, in and around the city of Nice.
This is a simple recipe, made by mixing together chickpea flour and extra virgin olive oil, then baking it in the oven for about 20 minutes.
It's perfect as a starter, snack, or even as a main meal if you add toppings to it. We love eating it topped with our eggplant caponata.
A quick history of farinata (socca)
According to popular legend, the dish was first made in 1284, when Genoa defeated Pisa in the battle of Meloria.
The Genoese galleys, loaded with prisoners, found themselves in a bad storm.
In the turmoil some barrels of oil and sacks of chickpeas spilled, soaking in saltwater.
Since the supplies were scarce, the sailors were given bowls of pureed chickpeas and olive oil.
Some sailors refused to eat it, and left it in the sun, which after a few hours dried the mixture into a kind of flat pancake.
The next day, driven by hunger, the sailors ate the chickpea pancake and were surprised by how delicious it was.
Back to the land, the Genoese thought to improve the recipe, cooking the chickpea puree in the oven.
The meal was a success in town, and to mock the defeated town of Pisa, farinata was called "the gold of Pisa."
From there it spread to Tuscany, where it's called Cecina, and to the French Riviera, where is called Socca. Watch a 1-min video story on how to make socca.
Ingredients & Substitutions
Chickpea flour: this is also known as garbanzo bean flour and is the main ingredient for socca. It cannot be replaced with regular wheat flour. I tried, however, replacing it with fava bean flour and red lentil flour and it worked quite well.
Extra virgin olive oil: I recommend using extra virgin because it has a richer, more aromatic flavor, that goes really well with the chickpea flavor. You can replace it with regular olive oil, but the flavor won't be as rich and aromatic.
Water: tap water is ok.
Salt and pepper: salt is added to the batter, while freshly ground black pepper is traditionally ground on top of the farinata.
I recommend using a blender (either immersion or regular) to blend the chickpea batter. This way you don't have to wait hours for the flour to hydrate.
If you don't have a blender, then you can use a whisk or a fork, but make sure that the flour is fully dissolved in the water.
I use a baking tray that is 11 inches or 28cm in diameter.
How to make socca (farinata)
Preheat the oven to 250C or 480F. In a bowl, add chickpea flour, salt, water and blend with an immersion blender for 3 to 5 minutes till completely smooth. You can also use a regular blender.
If you don't have a blender, then you can use a whisk or a fork, but make sure that the flour is fully dissolved in the water, and ideally let it sit for an hour.
Note that some people add oil to the batter, but I think that this is not necessary because we are going to add quite a bit of oil to the baking tray later on.
Prep your baking tray (or iron-cast pan). Add the olive oil and distribute it evenly.
There should be enough olive oil to fully cover the bottom of the tray. This is an important step, or else your farinata will stick to the tray.
TIP: tilt the tray and you should see a small "wave" that the olive oil creates while it runs from one side of the tray to the other.
You could use parchment paper instead of oil on the tray, but in this case, you need to add the oil to the batter. The thing is, a socca without oil is just not good.
With a spoon, remove some of the foam from the top of the chickpea batter. We do this because the foam tends to burn in the oven.
Now, gently pour the chickpea batter into the center of the baking tray, but over a spoon first, and not pouring directly in the tray.
Pouring directly from the bowl and into the baking tray will displace the oil, and your socca will stick.
TIP: make sure that the batter is about ¼ of an inch or 0.6 mm thick.
At this stage, you should see some of the oil come on top of the chickpea batter. This is perfectly normal.
If you want, you can distribute the oil, moving it around gently with the back of a spoon. But don't let the back of the spoon touch the bottom of the baking tray. Just glide gently on the surface of the batter.
Bake in the oven at 480F or 250C for 10 minutes, then set your oven to grill mode and grill the farinata for another 10 minutes.
It should be well cooked, golden and crispy on top, and soft and smooth on the bottom.
Take out of the oven, sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper, and serve.
How to serve socca?
Farinata is best eaten hot, straight out of the oven.
The classic way of eating it is simple with a sprinkle of salt and a couple of twists of freshly ground black pepper. You can also eat it in two slices of bread or focaccia.
Nowadays, however, farinata has become a lot more hipster than in the past, and you can serve it or top it with many different things.
It's best eaten as a starter or as a light main meal, together with olives, spreads, tapenade, grilled vegetables, or even better, with our eggplant caponata or our confit tomatoes.
Tips for a perfect socca
Use a blender: blending the chickpea batter will allow you to cook it immediately, without having to let it rest for several hours to hydrate.
Pour over a spoon: don't pour directly into the baking tray, but over a spoon first to not displace the oil on the tray. This way your farinata won't stick.
Remove some of the foam that forms on top of the chickpea batter. It tends to burn in the oven.
Frequently asked questions
They are essentially the same thing, except that farinata is the original dish that originated in Genoa (Italy), which by the way, is not too far from Nice.
The same dish became popular across what is now called the French Riviera, up to Nice. Back then, however, Nice was not part of France.
From the 7th century Niece was part of the Genoese league, and later was part of the Duchy of Savoy till 1860, where Italian was spoken as the main language.
It's easy to imagine that the close relations of Nice with what is now modern Italy contributed to some spillovers of recipes and culinary traditions.
Farinata or Socca is best eaten hot, straight out of the oven. If you have some leftover, store it in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Warm it in the oven or in the microwave before eating it.
You can also freeze farinata for up to 2 months, then thaw ad warm up again before eating it.
Inspired by this recipe, I created two main variations of farinata:
Zucchini pie without egg: an onion and zucchini filling made with chickpea flour, and coated by a thin layer of dough.
Frittata without eggs: crisp on the outside, soft and moist on the inside, this eggless frittata is so close to the real thing, that it feels like you are eating egg.
Did you know that we develop our recipes to go together for a complete dinner meal plan? Serve farinata together with:
Caponata, a delicious Italian eggplant stew
Baked pears with cinnamon, maple syrup, and pecan.
Double-tap to watch our Vegan Dinner Series | Episode 5 | on YouTube.
FARINATA (SOCCA) | CHICKPEA FLOUR FLATBREAD
- 130 g (1 cup) chickpea flour or garbanzo bean flour
- 360 g (1½ cups) water
- 4 g (1 tsp) salt
- (2 twists) pepper
- 40 g (3 tbsp) extra virgin olive oil
- Preheat the oven to 250C or 480F. In a bowl, add chickpea flour, salt, water and blend with an immersion blender for 3 to 5 minutes till completely smooth. You can also use a regular blender. With a spoon, remove some of the foam from the top of the chickpea batter. We do this because the foam tends to burn in the oven.
- Add the oil to the baking sheet and spread it out evenly.You could use baking paper instead of oil on the baking sheet, but in that case, you'd have to add the oil to the batter. The thing is, a socca without oil is not going to be good.
- Gently pour the chickpea batter into the center of the pan, but first over a spoon and not pouring directly into the pan. Pouring directly from the bowl into the pan will displace the oil and the socca will stick.
- Bake at 250C for 10 minutes, then set your oven to grill mode and grill the farinata for another 10 minutes. It should be well cooked, golden and crispy on top, and soft and smooth on the bottom.
- Remove from oven, sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper and serve.Farinata is best eaten hot, right out of the oven. The classic way to eat it is with a sprinkle of salt and a couple of turns of freshly ground black pepper. You can also eat it in two slices of bread or focaccia.Nowadays, however, socca has become much more hipster than in the past and you can serve it or top it off with many different things like tapenade, fresh herbs, etc.We eat it as an appetizer or as a light main meal, along with olives, spreads, tapenade, grilled vegetables, or even better, with our eggplant caponata or cherry tomatoes confit.
Full video on youtube @theplantbasedschool
If you liked this recipe, you might also like:
- no knead focaccia with rosemary or with tomatoes
- tomato bruschetta with avocado
- lemon blueberry pound cake
Did you try this recipe at home? Let us know in the comments below 🙂