My favorite dish during a four-day stay in Vancouver: a crisp chickpea-flour flatbread topped with sautéed local chanterelles, buffalo mozzarella and luscious heirloom tomatoes. The chef of Cioppino’s Mediterranean Grill, Pino Posteraro, was looking to do something different, he told us, and he succeeded.
Plus, for those who care, the chickpea flour makes this dish gluten free.
I’ve been thinking about that little masterpiece ever since. So today, back home in the opposite corner of the continent, I set out to make it.
I figured Chef Pino’s crust was a riff on farinata, a Ligurian flatbread I remember as an outrageously good olive oil-soaked treat. But thinner and crisper than what I tasted there. After a bit of research, I realized it’s a “pizza” in quotes because there’s no yeast and kneading. Instead it’s made from a thin pancake (think crepes) batter.
Turns out the chickpea flour (aka garbanzo bean flour) is easy to find–among an array of Bob’s Red Mill products at Rolling Oats, a local health-food store. And the little flatbreads are easy to make, too. My broiling/pizza stone method worked fine. You can also cook the flatbreads stovetop in a crepe pan or on a griddle–but I found they still needed a trip to the oven to crisp up.
OK, my flatbreads were not quite as crisp as Chef Pino’s. But the texture and taste were irresistibly coarse and nutty. Savory shiitakes stood in for his wild chanterelles. The tomatoes I had on hand were fat grape tomatoes, not heirlooms, but they rose to the occasion once bathed in olive oil and a French quince vinegar called vinaigre de Coing.
All in all, delicious. I’ll be making these chickpea “pizzas” again and hope you will, too.
These pizzettes are a riff on panissa and farinata, the chickpea-flour specialties from Liguria. The batter is first cooked like crepes and then crisped in a hot oven.
- 1 cup chickpea flour
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil plus more for the pan
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme or oregano
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper optional
- 1/2 cup chopped shallot
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 8 ounces shiitake caps or mixed mushrooms cut or torn in small pieces
- 1/4 cup Marsala wine optional
- Sea salt or kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 cup good-quality ricotta (such as Calabro)
- 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano
- Cherry or grape tomatoes
- Balsamic or quince vinegar
- Microgreens (such as frisee, arugula or watercress sprigs)
Prepare chickpea flour batter: Place 1 cup water in a small bowl. Sift chickpea flour into it and whisk to blend well. Blend in olive oil, salt, thyme and pepper (if using). Let batter stand at room temperature or refrigerate for at least one hour.
Prepare toppings: In a large skillet, sauté shallot with 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat until it starts to turn golden. Add mushrooms, cooking until they soften. Add Marsala if using and cook a few minutes longer. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
In a small bowl, combine ricotta with Parmigiano Reggiano and a pinch of salt. Cut tomatoes in halves or quarters. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar and sprinkle lightly with salt.
Cook pizzette crusts: Heat a crepe pan or other small heavy skillet (about 6 inches in diameter)* over medium-high heat, and brush with olive oil. Off heat, pour about 1/3 cup of the batter into the pan and swirl to cover the bottom. Cook, nudging edges with your spatula (this helps with the turning), until the top feels firm and perhaps takes on a leathery appearance, about 2 minutes. Carefully turn and cook about 1 minute. Remove to a plate and repeat with remaining batter, brushing pan with olive oil each time. The pizzettes will be a bit thicker than crepes. (At this point, proceed immediately with recipe or refrigerate crusts and toppings for a few hours.)
If you have a pizza stone, place it in upper third of oven and set temperature to 425°F.
Assemble pizzettes: Spread each crust with ricotta mixture. Top with sautéed mushrooms.
Slide pizzettes onto hot pizza stone or a baking sheet. Cook until ricotta turns bubbly, about 10 minutes (or longer, for extra crispness).
Garnish pizzettes with dressed tomatoes and microgreens. Serve warm or at room temperature.
- I like to use a well-seasoned carbon steel crepe pan. A small nonstick pan also works well, although the pizzettes may not brown quite as well.