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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Cheap Appetizer: Farinata

We really wrestled with the title for this one, because the English name—chickpea-flour pancake—is so unappetizing. Fortunately, it's called farinata in Italy, and that sounds much, much tastier.
The recipe came from Mark Bittman, who writes the Minimalist column in the New York Times' food section and is one of our kitchen gods. Maybe we're just getting older and crankier, but these days we have little patience for snooty, work-for-work's-sake recipes. (You know the type: "Although we suppose you could use store-bought cornmeal in a pinch, we strongly suggest that you grind your own . . .")
Using just a few ingredients and a few steps, Bittman invents dishes that are reliably good. We slightly adapted his recipe for this pancake, which can serve as either an appetizer on its own or, accompanied by red pepper sauce or ratatouille, as a first course.


1 1/2 cups lukewarm water
1 cup chickpea flour*
1 t. salt
1 t. fresh-ground pepper
2 T. olive oil
1/2 cup thinly sliced onion

1. Pour the water into a mixing bowl; sift in the flour.
2. Whisk in the salt, pepper, and oil; cover with a towel; and set aside. The batter should rest for at least 15 minutes but can sit as long as 12 hours.
3. Heat oven to 450 degrees. Cover a baking pan with parchment paper.**
4. Stir the sliced onion into the batter and pour onto the baking sheet. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the pancake is golden brown and the edges are set.
5. Cut into squares and serve warm. 

* You may be able to find chickpea flour (also known as garbanzo flour) in the baking section of your supermarket. It's also available at Indian markets, where it's called besan or gram flour. 
** Don't make the mistake we made and try pouring the batter onto a greased nonstick pan; it will stick, horribly. Parchment paper is essential, and we take the extra, possibly neurotic, step of spraying the paper with oil before pouring the batter onto it.  


  1. Oh my god - you're right the english sounds a little weird/gross. HOWEVER, I ate this all over Argentina, and it was spectacular. They make it more like a cake/pie than an pancake, but it was so tasty either way.

    Great blog, I'm going to add you to my blogroll!

  2. Thanks, Nate.
    BTW, what was farinata called in Argentina, and how thick was the pie?