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Farinata with Herbs and Onions

In Liguria, cooks make a crepe-like flatbread from a simple batter of chickpea flour, water and olive oil that echoes the socca made just across the border in Nice. Called farinata and traditionally a street food, it is eaten plain or topped with vegetables, herbs or other ingredients. Look for chickpea flour in Italian stores or Indian markets, where it is labeled gram flour or besan. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup chickpea flour 
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 2 tsp. sea salt, plus more, to taste  
  • 1/3 cup olive oil, plus 1 Tbs. for greasing pan 
  • 1/2 yellow onion, very thinly sliced crosswise 
  • 1 Tbs. chopped fresh sage or rosemary 
  • Coarsely ground pepper, to taste 

Directions:

In a bowl, whisk together the chickpea flour, water, salt and the 1/3 cup olive oil until smooth. The batter should be fairly thin. Cover and let stand at room temperature for at least 4 hours, or refrigerate for up to overnight.

Bring a couple cups of water to a boil. Place the onion slices in a fine-mesh sieve in the sink. Pour the boiling water over the onions, then rinse the onions with cold water to remove their bitter sharpness.

Position a rack in the upper third of an oven and preheat to 400°F. Once the oven is heated, place a 9-inch cast-iron pan in it to heat about 5 minutes before baking the farinata.

While the pan is heating, add half of the sage to the batter and stir to mix. Squeeze any excess water from the onions.

Carefully remove the pan from the oven and add the 1 Tbs. olive oil to it, swirling to coat the bottom evenly. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and scatter the onions and the remaining sage evenly over the top. Bake until the farinata is cooked through and the edges are crisp and browned, about 2 minutes.

Carefully slide the farinata out of the pan onto a serving plate. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, cut into wedges and serve immediately. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Italian by Michele Scicolone (Oxmoor House, 2007).