Chickpea farinata is essentially a chickpea pancake, also known as 'socca' from Genoa. It consists of a simple batter of chickpea flour, water and salt, creating something slightly thicker than a pancake, which is deliciously crispy but soft in the middle. It can be eaten with any topping you like, cheeses, leaves and vegetables work so well, along with any array of dips. Here I have kept thing vegan with a spiced aubergine mix and creamy tahini dressing but feel free to add crumbled feta, homous, labneh for a great tear and share. Another more Italian favourite of mine, is charred bitter leaves with oozey gorgonzola, the possibilities are endless!
Serves 4 | Vegan | Gluten Free
250g gram flour (aka chickpea flour) 400ml water 8g Salt
1 rosemary sprig, leaves picked and finely chopped
80ml olive oil
2 red onions, peeled and sliced
2 medium aubergines, cut into 2cm pieces
2 garlic cloves, grated
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
½ tsp mustard seeds
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp tomato puree
4 medium tomatoes, cored and diced
2 tbsp tahini
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp water
½ lemon, juiced
Parsley bunch, leaves roughly chopped
Place the gram flour in a bowl and create a well in the centre. Slowly add the water, whilst constantly whisking, until smooth and well combined. Cover the bowl with cling film and set aside to ferment for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight.
The next day, skim off any scum that has formed at the surface and discard. Finely chop the rosemary leaves.
Add the salt and rosemary and whisk well, scraping up any flour that has settled on the bottom.
Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 5.
Prepare the aubergine filling by heating a deep, large pan over a medium/high heat with a good lug of olive oil. Add the onions and aubergine with a pinch of salt. Cook until they are soft, cooked through and have a nice caramelisation, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the dressing by whisking the tahini, olive oil and lemon juice with a pinch of salt and pepper. Gradually add the water, continuing to whisk, until you have a smooth, creamy sauce. Set aside.
When the aubergine is cooked, add the garlic, tomato puree and spices and fry for 2 minutes, stirring to combine.
Add the chopped tomatoes and cook for a further 5 minutes, reducing any juices until you have a thick mixture. Taste and generously season with salt and pepper.
Leave the pan on a low heat to keep warm while you prepare the farinata.
Heat an oven proof, wide based frying pan over a high heat. Add 1tbsp of oil and turn the pan to coat the base and all sides.
When the oil is hot and almost smoking, pour in the batter, about 1 ladleful, swirling as you pour to coat the base of the pan until it is 4mm thick. It’s ok if the oil mixes with the batter, that’s what you want. Cook until it starts to bubble and the sides crisp up and pull away from the edge of the pan. Place the pan in the oven for 10 minutes. Keep an eye on it, lifting it up to check if the base has turned golden brown and crispy. Transfer the farinata to a plate to keep warm while you repeat with the remaining batter.
Serve warm with a large serving of the spiced aubergine, the tahini dressing and chopped parsley.