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Farinata, or socca, is a type of thin, savory, unleavened and gluten-free crêpe or flat bread made from garbanzo bean (chickpea) flour, which is also known as gram or besan flour. It originated in Genoa, Italy and later became a typical street food of the sea coast region, stretching from Nice, France to Pisa, Italy.

Farinata, or socca, is made by stirring water into a mixture of chickpea flour, seasonings and olive oil to form a loose batter. Traditionally it is cooked in an open oven; however, for this version it is cooked on the stove. It is then cut into triangle-shaped wedges and eaten. With the inclusion of the rosemary, the crêpes have a flavor reminiscent of Middle Eastern falafel and are wonderful served with hummus or baba ghannouj.

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The crêpes can also be topped with cooked vegetables and/or non-dairy cheese and folded over like an omelette, and as such are ideal for those who cannot consume tofu-based omelettes. It is essential to cook the vegetables so that all of their excess moisture is removed, otherwise the moisture will make the crêpes soggy. Please note that if you have issues with texture, chickpea flour is not as smooth as other flours and a slight grittiness can be detected on the tongue. This recipe yields four crêpes.

Ingredients:
• 1 cup garbanzo bean (chickpea) flour
• ¾ tsp sea salt
• ½ tsp onion powder
• ½ tsp coarse ground black pepper
• ¼ tsp garlic powder
• ¼ tsp smoked paprika
• 1 and ¼ cup warm water
• 2 T olive oil
• 1 tsp fresh minced rosemary (optional but recommended)
• Better Butter (from either cookbook) or commercial vegan margarine for the skillet
(olive oil can be substituted but the crêpes will not brown as nicely)

Technique:
In a large bowl, whisk together the garbanzo bean (chickpea) flour, salt, onion powder, black pepper, garlic powder and paprika. Whisk in the warm water and olive oil (and optional rosemary, if desired). Cover and place in the refrigerator for a minimum of 30 minutes and up to 12 hours (the longer, the better).

In a 10-inch NON-STICK or WELL-SEASONED cast iron skillet, add 2 teaspoons butter or margarine and melt over medium heat. Use the tip of a flexible pancake spatula to spread the butter around the pan.

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Pour a fourth of the batter (½ cup) into the center of the skillet. Tilt and rotate the skillet slightly to spread the batter evenly into a circular shape. Avoid spreading the batter all the way to the curve of the skillet, if possible, as this will make it easier to loosen the edges of the crêpe with the spatula and flip it over. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until the surface appears dry. This will take a few minutes.

Using the flexible spatula, gently loosen under the edges of the crêpe. Slide the spatula under the crêpe and quickly but carefully flip it over. Continue to cook another 30 seconds to 1 minute. Slip the spatula under the crêpe and carefully slide it onto a serving plate. Place the plate in a lightly warmed oven to keep the crêpe warm while preparing the additional crêpes.

Repeat the procedure for the additional crêpes, but reduce the butter or margarine to 1 teaspoon.

Cut the crêpes into wedges and serve warm.

To serve as an “omelette”:
After flipping the crêpe, top with shredded cheese or cooked vegetables and fold the crêpe in half over the toppings. If using cheese, cover with a lid, and continue to warm for a minute or two to allow the cheese to melt. Serve immediately.

Italian Farinata/French Socca
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