The Savory Italian Pancake With A Crispy Outside And Custardy Inside

Pancakes in America are known for being sweet, indulgent fare, suitable for a luxurious breakfast or celebratory brunch. While inventions such as chocolate chip or cannoli-inspired pancakes can be nice from time to time, many other cuisines embrace the pancake's savory potential. Such is the case with fainá, an Italian dish with a versatile flavor and addictive texture.

While fainá originated in the Italian city of Genoa, it is actually South America where the dish is most popular, having been brought over to Argentina and Uruguay by immigrants from the city. Its simplicity is part of its charm, being made of nothing more than chickpea flour, olive oil, salt, pepper, and water. As such, it's a quick and affordable addition to a satisfying and nutritious meal. This savory pancake has a thin, crispy exterior and a soft, melt-in-your-mouth interior, and its mild flavor makes it a blank slate for a wide variety of customizations.

How to make fainá

Making this beloved dish at home is as fast as it is easy. Prepare your dry ingredients by mixing 1-2 cups of chickpea flour with salt, pepper, and any other seasonings that suit your fancy. Combine that with a few glugs of oil and enough water to form a thin batter similar to traditional pancake batter. Next, pour the batter into an oiled, oven-safe skillet to lightly fry the exterior. Once the edges turn crispy, you can finish it off in a 375 F oven for 10-12 minutes.

During or after the cooking of your fainá, there are almost infinite variations you can make to tailor the dish to your tastes. You can alter the batter with the addition of different spices, sprinkle in a handful of your favorite cheese, or even swap out chickpea flour for a different legume like black beans or lentils. Once it's finished, you can serve it on its own, with toppings like fresh vegetables, or even "a caballo," meaning on top of a pizza, as is popular in Argentina and Uruguay.