For Christmas this year, I was gifted with two sturdy cast iron pans that I hope to use for many years (thanks Mom ! ). I wanted to ease into their use with a simple dish that I hopefully wouldn’t have to chisel off the bottom if that initial seasoning didn’t work. This was the result.
A farinata is a sort of savory pancake or flatbread that has its origins in Genoa Italy. Similar versions are found in France as socca, which I’ve also made before with rosemary. Very tasty, and for those of you out there following a gluten-free or vegan diet, this fits the bill. You can even use it as a base for pizza. This version, stuffed with more vegetables, makes for a nice light meal alongside a salad of your choosing.
I started the recipe ahead of time by caramelizing a head of fennel, which was used both in this recipe and mixed in with some roasted eggplant and chickpeas as a sort of warm salad I tossed together. I simply sliced up a large-ish head of fennel, added to a saute pan along with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, some sea salt and a few grinds of pepper. Cook that over low-medium heat until the fennel is softened and turns golden. Set aside until ready to use.
And so, the recipe:
- 1 cup chickpea flour
- 1 3/4 cups water
- 3/4 tsp sea salt
- 4-5 tbsps olive oil, divided
- 1 small onion, thinly sliced
- 1 cup of caramelized fennel, as described above
- 1 tsp fennel seed
- ground pepper
Start the batter by mixing chickpea flour, water, sea salt and 2 tbsps olive oil by whisking, or as I did, with my blender. Set mixture aside for at least an hour. The batter should thicken slightly.
When ready to cook, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place a cast iron pan over medium heat and add 2-3 tablespoons olive oil (I used 3, as my pan is brand new). Add sliced onions and cook until softened and slightly golden. Remove from heat, and stir in the fennel and fennel seed, and give the mixture a few grinds of pepper. Distribute evenly over the bottom of the pan, then pour in your batter. Place pan in oven and bake for about 40 minutes, until set and golden. Remove from oven, allow to cool slightly before cutting into wedges and serving.