I am hooked on flatbread made with flavorful, nutty chickpea flour. All it needs is water and a little time to sit to become a thick batter that firms up beautifully in a hot skillet. Once baked it is easily topped with whatever you have—or fancy!
Farinata (chickpea flatbread) is a popular street food all along the Ligurian coast (and the French Riviera, where it’s called socca). As you stand in line at the vendors’ stall, drooling, you get to watch the action: One pours runny batter in a huge round sheet pan glistening with olive oil to bake crisp in one of the blazing-hot wood-fired ovens. Others swiftly proceed with hot-baked flatbread once ready, cutting it into wedges, triangles or squares. Note: this batter recipe is an oil-free adaption from Slow Food’s Ligurian Farinata.
*Want a vegan version? Very simple: Don’t add the merguez—it is all vegan except for that!
Minted Hummus, Merguez & Tomatoes Farinata
Serves 2 (main) to 4–6 (appetizer)
2 cups chickpea flour
1 teaspoon fine salt
1 cup grape tomatoes, blistered
1-2 links merguez, removed from casing—OPTIONAL
⅓ bunch mint, leaves only, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
½ cup cooked garden peas
juice + zest of 1 small lemon
1 can cannellini beans, drained
extra-virgin olive oil as needed
fresh mint, parsley, basil and/or other herbs
salt/pepper to taste
Put the water in a bowl and whisk in the chickpea flour until you get a runny batter, similar to pancake batter. Mix in the salt, cover with a kitchen towel and let stand at least for a couple of hours, and ideally overnight.
Preheat oven to 450°F. Spread the grape tomatoes in a single layer in a sheet pan. Put in the hot oven and blister for up to 5 minutes. Take out and let cool. Keep the oven at 450°F.
Meat option: Heat a nonstick frying pan over high heat for 1 minute (no added fat), add the merguez and stir-fry until crumbled and cooked. Drain off fat and set aside.
Grease an oven-proof pan (pizza pan or cast-iron) with a little olive oil. Heat the oil stovetop for about half a minute. Add the batter and let it spread out to cover the pan in a layer of about 1/2-inch to 1-inch thickness. Transfer to the oven and bake until crispy and golden (you can also finish this stove-top but it may be trickier as you will need to flip the flatbread).
While the flatbread is baking, whizz up the mint hummus: Put the chopped mint, garlic, peas, lemon juice + zest and cannellini beans in a bowl. Mix with an immersion blender until smooth, adding water as needed to make it a thick but spreadable paste (I use water for a lean version; you can use olive oil if you prefer). Season to taste with salt.
When baked through (about 10 minutes, or when the top feels dry and the flatbread firm to the touch), take it out of the oven and let cool just a little. Spoon the hummus on top of the warm flatbread and spread in a single layer (about ¼-inch thickness). Drop the blistered tomatoes and merguez (if using) all over and garnish with fresh herbs. To finish, drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil, fresh-ground sea salt and black pepper to taste.