Quick — what does this pancake and sustainability have in common? Beans. Tiny as beans are, they have the power to help solve the world’s biggest issues — climate change.
Beans are low water, low carbon, high yield. In other words, they require fewer resources to feed more people.
Unlike many crops which deplete the soil, beans enrich it. Their roots feed the ground where they grow with nitrogen — natural plantbased fertilizer. I planted beans as my summer cover crop to make sure my fall plants could get off to a good, healthy growing season.
They’re also the most affordable and versatile ingredient in your pantry, doing delicious duty way beyond chili and hummus. Beans are the not-so-secret ingredient in this savory Mediterranean pancake. Called farinata in Italy, socca in France, it’s luscious, crispy crusted with a tender inside, naturally gluten-free, and takes just four ingredients. And hey, it’s a pancake.
The main ingredient is chickpea flour. It’s what it sounds like, finely milled dried chickpeas. I used to get chickpea flour at my local Middle Eastern market, where it was sometimes it was labeled as besan, Now it’s in my local grocery store, and I hope, yours (and yes, you can make hummus with it).
Life is difficult. This is simple. You can nourish yourself and nourish the planet, too. The answer is beans.
Want more beans in your life? Yes, you do. In addition to this recipe and the beanly bonanza of soulfulvegan recipes, get extras and exclusives with my e-book Beans: A Handful of Magic, on sale for a buck.
Beans we love:
Enjoy this recipe from my award-winning book, Feeding the Hungry Ghost. A delight by itself, farinata is even better paired with sauteed garlicy greens and/or ratatouille.
- 1½ cups chickpea flour
- 1½ cups water
- 4 tablespoons olive oil plus additional for coating the skillet
- sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Pour chickpea flour into a medium-sized bowl. Slowly pour in water, stirring constantly until mixture forms a thick batter. Stir in the 4 tablespoons of olive oil, then cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and as long as overnight. Batter should be creamy and golden, with texture and color like tahini.
- An hour before cooking, remove from the fridge and allow to come back to room temperature.
- Place an oven rack in the top third of your oven and preheat to 425 degrees. .
- Lightly oil an 8-inch or 9-inch skillet. Cast iron is brilliant for this.
- Stir the batter again to incorporate the oil, then pour batter into the skillet, spreading with a spatula so the mixture is even. Give it a garnish of sea salt and fresh ground pepper.
- Bake for 20 minutes, or until pancake is golden-brown and set.
- Remove from oven and let cool slightly before slicing into wedges and serving.