Ligurian Soft Chickpea Focaccia with Onion and Rosemary


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • 8 to 10

    Appetizer Portions

Appears in

When I am on the road in Italy, if no other indication were available, I could probably tell where I was by the local attitude to beans. If the overruling passion is for the cranberry bean to the exclusion of every other legume, I am in the northeast. If cannellini are the principal object of affection, it is Tuscany. If it is chickpeas that clamor for attention, I could be in various places, in the south, in Sicily, but my first guess would be Liguria, the Italian Riviera.

It is chickpea flour rather than the whole pea that two classic Ligurian preparations are based on, but they take it in divergent directions. One produces a warm, spoon-soft, polenta-like chickpea porridge, usually known by the name of panissa or paniscia. I have seen people stir into it sliced raw onion, sautéed mushrooms, or cut-up browned sausage. It ends up being an alternative to polenta, but a more laborious one to prepare, with less rewarding flavor. I much prefer farinata, which is like a thin, very soft focaccia, and is consumed more casually, either as a snack, as an appetizer with drinks, or at a buffet.

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  • cups water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ pound fine chickpea flour, about 1⅔ cups
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • cup very thinly sliced onion, soaked in cold water
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves stripped from the branch
  • Black pepper ground fresh

An 11 by 7 by 2-inch black baking pan


  1. Put the water and salt in a mixing bowl. Pour the chickpea flour into the bowl, passing it through a strainer to eliminate any lumps in the flour. Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and stir thoroughly with a fork or whisk. Let the mixture mature at room temperature for at least 4 hours, or even 6.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°.
  3. Before you change the water in which the onion is soaking, squeeze the onion with your hand; this eliminates some of its sharp, milky fluid. Drain the onion into a strainer, refill the bowl with cold water, and drop the onion back into it. Repeat this operation three or four times during a 45-minute to 1-hour period. At the end, drain the onion, transfer it to a small bowl, add 1 tablespoon olive oil, and stir to coat the onion evenly.
  4. Add the rosemary leaves to the chickpea-and-water batter, distributing them uniformly
  5. Smear the bottom of the baking pan with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Pour the chickpea batter into the pan, leveling it off. Scatter the onion over the batter, distributing it as evenly as you can. Bake in the upper level of the preheated oven for about 40 minutes. The farinata’s edges should turn brown and become crisp.
  6. Remove from the oven, lift the farinata carefully out of the pan, cut into diamond-shaped pieces, and sprinkle with coarse ground black pepper.