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Farinata, Socca or Chickpea Pizza Recipe – 50 Women Game Changers In Food – Elizabeth David

by Jeanette on September 9, 2011 · 38 Comments
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Farinita Socca
Ever since my youngest son was found to be allergic to wheat among other foods, I find myself constantly looking for gluten-free recipes that might remind him of something tasty he used to enjoy. Call it comfort food. One of the recipes I’ve been wanting to try for a while is Socca, Farinata, or as I call it Chickpea Pizza (although there’s no cheese or tomato sauce involved). This Chickpea Pizza goes by many names. In Nice, it is called “Socca,” in Tuscany “Cecina,” and in Argentina “Faina.” Whether you want to call it Farinata, Socca or Faina, this dish is made simply from chickpea flour, water and olive oil.

So, this week, when I found a simple recipe in Is There Nutmeg In The Houseby Elizabeth David, I knew I had to try it. Elizabeth David is being honored by a group of bloggers as one of 50 Women Game-Changers in food recently recognized by Gourmet Live. Mary from One Perfect Bite came up with this brilliant idea, so if you’re interested in joining in on the fun, just ask Mary. We’ve been cooking our way through this list of 50 influential women in food, selecting a recipe from each of them to try each week.
According to Gourmet Live, “David’s French Country Cooking predated Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking by a decade. The terribly influential British writer didn’t so much teach a nation to cook French as inspire one to think Mediterranean.” I have to admit that I had never heard of Elizabeth David before, but I enjoyed perusing through Is There Nutmeg In The House, a collection of her work over a period of four decades, published after her death in 1992.In fact, Elizabeth David published eight books during her lifetime, including Book of Mediterranean Food (1950), English Bread and Yeast Cookery (1977), and Omelette and a Glass of Wine (1984).

Although traditionally Farinata is made with just chick pea flour, water and olive oil, Elizabeth David points out that the Farinata of Oneglia is “strewn with very finely sliced onions before it is consigned to the oven, and at Savona it is sprinkled with rosemary leaves.” She discusses the thickness of Farinata, saying that if it is more than 1 1/4″ thick, it becomes “stodgy.” Her own variation includes adding some fennel seeds.

For this recipe, I had to buy chickpea flour. Although I’ve roasted chickpeas, pureed chickpeas and used chickpeas in soups, I’ve never used chickpea flour (although I have used a blend of chickpea/fava bean flour in gluten-free baking). Fortunately, there’s an Indian grocery store nearby that I knew would carry chickpea flour, or besam flour as it’s known. I’m sure an Italian grocery store or deli would probably also have it, packaged as farina de ceci.

Farinata, Socca or Chickpea Pizza

Adapted from Is There Nutmeg In The House. The original recipe calls for the Farinata batter to be baked in a shallow earthenware dish – I chose to use a cast iron pan. I found this recipe a bit salty, so I have halved the amount of salt in this recipe. I followed Elizabeth David’s suggestions of adding thinly sliced onions and some fennel seeds to the Farinata batter. This recipe produced a fragrant and savory treat, crusty on the bottom and sides, with a chewy interior and creamy top. 

Printable Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound chick pea flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 pints less 2-3 tablespoons of water
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons fennel seeds
  • fresh ground pepper

Directions:

  1. Put the chick pea flour in a bowl, add the water a little at a time, stirring well.
  2. When smooth and about the consistency of pancake batter, add the salt.
  3. Cover and leave for a minimum of 4 hours at room temperature, or overnight if more convenient.
  4. When ready to bake farinata/socca, preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  5. In an 11 inch diameter cast iron pan, pour enough olive oil to cover the surface. Stir the batter and pour it into the pan. Again stir it well, so that the oil and batter are well incorporated.
  6. Scatter sliced onions and sprinkle fennel seeds on top.
  7. Bake the farinata for 50 minutes until the top is golden and crusty.
  8. Serve it hot, sprinkled with freshy milled pepper, and cut into lozenges.

Serves 6.


Please stop by and take a look at what the rest of the group made this week in celebration of Elizabeth David:
Susan from The Spice Garden 
Heather from girlichef 
Claudia from A Seasonal Cook in Turkey 
Miranda from Mangoes and Chutney
April from Abby Sweets
Mary from One Perfect Bite
Kathleen from Bake Away with Me 
Viola from The Life is Good Kitchen 
Barbara from Movable Feasts 
Kathleen from Gonna Want Seconds 

Amy from Beloved Green

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Comments

  1. Caroline @ chocolate and carrots says:

    Yum! I just want to dip that in marinara sauce. So tasty. :-)

  2. Sam @ My Carolina Kitchen says:

    Jeanette, I did not know much about Elizabeth David either, so I'm enjoying going from post to post, reading about her.

    I am so glad you've chosen Socca to highlight today. I've eaten Socca in old Nice and other villages on the Cote d'Azure and I can tell you that is the most delightful of street food I've ever tasted. I have other's recipes, but I am so glad to have Elizabeth David's now.
    Sam

  3. Oh my goodness that looks so good! I haven't experimented with chickpea flour yet. I've been seeing it more often lately.

    I love that you call it Chickpea Pizza…sounds delicious!!

  4. Lydia (The Perfect Pantry) says:

    I first got turned on to Elizabeth David when I used to have several business trips a year to London. I would wander into the great bookstores there, peruse the cookery section, and keep seeing her books. I finally bought English Bread and Yeast Cookery, and from then on, I was hooked. This recipe looks lovely — not so much a pizza alternative as a wonderful creation of its own that just happens to look like a pizza!

  5. You chose such a super recipe to highlight Elizabeth David. I've yet to make anything with chickpea flour and the fennel seeds and onion make this tart sound divine. (I love those cast iron pans!)

  6. I love the addition of the thin onions and fennel. Sounds wonderful!

  7. I was so pleasantly surprised by how fragrant and delicious this socca/farinata turned out. I didn't expect it to be so good, made with just a few simple ingredients.

  8. Pretend Chef says:

    I added the cookbook titles to my library list. Can't wait to flip through the pages of the cookbooks. What a great recipe to try. Chickpea flour is a new to me ingredient. I'd love to give this a try sometime. It looks so delicious and the flavors sound amazing.

  9. Love this recipe!

  10. Susan Lindquist says:

    This recipe sounds sooo interesting! I have never used chickpea flour!

  11. Mickle in NZ says:

    Hello Jeanette,

    I love farinata, especially with additions to the batter like herbs and spices (dry or fresh). I also love adding slices of red onion, peppers (capsicums) and/tomato onto the batter once it has been poured into the pan.

    My only challenge has been to get the right amount of salt in the batter when I make this as a serving to suit just me (Zebby Cat doesn't do veggies in any form).

    The overall essential is the well seasoned cast iron pan, and letting the batter sit/rest for several hours.

    Check out pakora recipes: fresh veg lightly coated in a chickpea/besan flour batte(that you season to your liking) and shallow fried. My favs are fresh beans and mushroom slices. Like tempora batter only way better!!!

    Sending care and many huggles,

    Michelle and Zebby Cat down under in Springtime, xxxx and puRRRRumbles from us

  12. Sue/the view from great island says:

    Wow, this is an unusual dish. It looks like yours came out perfectly, and I can imagine the fragrance of the fennel must be lovely.

  13. aida mollenkamp says:

    Oh, the socca! It's one of my favorite recipes from the south of France. I like that you've coined it "chickpea pizza" though.

  14. foodformantou says:

    I will definitely try this, thank you!

  15. Alison @ Ingredients, Inc. says:

    wow this looks wonderful! Interesting mix of ingredients and flavors

  16. Sounds delicious! I've made socca, but not with the onions and fennel seeds on top. Love that addition.

  17. TejasJJain says:

    Interesting. this is very familiar cheela (which is chick pea flour based pancake). But these look delish. I will try this recipe.

  18. amazing.. i never knew this was called socca. not sure if u already know, but the indian version is called Chilla or Puda, and we add onions, scallions, tomatoes, peppers, and other finely chopped veggies, andherbs like cilantro, mint and some indian spices, to make a thinner version!

    Richa @ Hobby And More Food Blog

  19. I just love the onion and fennel seed – it brings this simple chickpea pizza to a whole other level. Delightful use of ingredients.

  20. Would you recommend an oven temperature? thanks

  21. You know what? I've never been able to find chickpea flour. I know I could find some online, but I have yet to actually do it. I love the sound of this…the crust…the chewy inside…the fennel seeds (which are an odd addiction for me). Great choice =)

  22. I just love how this dish is eaten all around the world, and has so many names. Next time I make this, I'm going to try the Indian version.

  23. The oven temperature is 425 degrees.

  24. I've been meaning to make socca since I'm obsessed with all things chickpea! Yours looks so good! You can also buy chickpea flour at whole foods…or grind up dried chickpeas to make your own!

  25. Wow, that really looks like a pizza at a first glance! I love chickpeas but never cooked with chickpea flour before. The recipe reminds me a little bit the way we would prepare a polenta and now I'm intrigued about this ceci. Thank you, those pictures are gorgeous!

  26. Pure2raw Twins says:

    we love our socca! we have a whole page dedicated to it since we love it so much, I first fell in love with it when I was in Nice France and changed my life forever. it is so good and easy to make!

  27. Hope one day I have a chance to visit Nice and try their authentic socca.

  28. Inside a British Mum's Kitchen says:

    I'm trying to learn about alternative flours as I'm feeling really bad about all purpose – so I love that you chick pea flour – going to try it!
    Mary

  29. France@beyondthepeel says:

    Jeanette, I love the recipe you chose. I bought a bag of chickpea flour for a recipe I did a few months back but didn't have recipes to use up the rest of it, so it's just been sitting there. This looks delicious and it gluten free and has a good amount of protein.

  30. this is the prettiest socca i've seen! love the outlines of onions i see in there!!!

  31. Taryn (Have Kitchen, Will Feed) says:

    I think I'll have to try making this for my GF friend – she loves it when we go out.

  32. wooh, socca! I can't go a week without eating it :) Awesome looking pizza

  33. marla {family fresh cooking} says:

    I love chickpea flour…such a unique pizza idea. One I must try!

  34. What an interesting recipe – I'm so intrigued by that crust!!

  35. Did your son like it? Looks good.

  36. Heather Jacobsen says:

    i've never tried socca, but it looks delicious! perfect comfort food and a great replacement for pizza for anyone who is gluten and dairy intolerant!

  37. First we bake it, then we brush more olive oil on top and grill it over coals. If we had a pizza oven, we’d do it in there from start to finish. I remember seeing a photo of a socca scene in France; they were eating it on the beach and drinking rosée.

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