(Don’t let the length of this post/recipe scare you away. It really is easy and fairly quick to make.)
I am so excited to share my new-found love of socca, the chickpea flour crêpe/pancake/flat bread from Nice, France. It is very easy to make, yet I felt like an accomplished baker when I saw the end result – it’s beautiful! Don’t worry, if you don’t like olives, you can leave them out. In fact, traditional socca (also known as farinata or cecina) is merely garbanzo bean flour, water, olive oil and black pepper (naturally gluten-free and vegan!).
When I found this recipe on Tasty Yummies, I was initially drawn to the recipe title cuz I’m a sucker for Kalamata olives. Then I saw the mouth-watering photo and got sucked in further. Finally, I read the post and became thoroughly convinced that I HAD to try it. At this point, my expectations were quite high. I was crossing my fingers that Beth (author of Tasty Yummies) wouldn’t let me down. And she didn’t. In fact, my expectations were exceeded (which is pretty hard to do – just ask Hubs).
It has a very moist texture, almost custard-like at first bite. It’s also quite rich, which is likely from the hefty amount of olive oil. This is quite a thick version of socca, but it can be made much thinner (like a crêpe) by adding more water. In researching socca, I discovered there are a multiple ways to make it. It can be roasted under the broiler until the top is charred and crisp, or baked and then put under the broiler quickly at the end, or made right on the stove top. And of course, if you have a wood-burning oven (lucky you) and a tin-plated copper baking pan, then by all means, do it the REAL way!
Feel free to personalize it by adding your favorite herbs and spices to the batter. The versatility doesn’t end there. While it is excellent on its own, it would also be great in a salad (cut into bite-size pieces), as a wrap or pita or pizza crust (depending on the thickness), or served as an appetizer with dips, olives, etc. The possibilities are endless. In fact, I can’t wait to make it again. Next time, I will try a little less oil and a little more water for a thinner version. If socca has a downfall, it’s the amount of oil. I’ll also change up the spices and herbs, just to experiment.
YIELDS (2) 9″ SOCCAS (made thick) -or- (3) 9″ SOCCAS (made thin)
1½ cups chickpea/garbanzo bean flour
¾ tsp sea salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
1¾ cups lukewarm water*
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for the pans*
2 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped*
½ cup Kalamata olives, pitted and roughly chopped*
2-3 cups raw vegetables of your choice (I used green beans, red pepper, carrots and cauliflower)
1 Tbsp olive oil
seasonings of your choice (I used dried basil and oregano)
sea salt and black pepper, to taste
As I mentioned above, the amount of water and oil can be adjusted slightly to vary the thickness of the socca. The basil can be swapped for a different herb, such as rosemary, or you could even use dried herbs/spices. And of course, the olives are optional too. As far as timing this recipe, it’s best to make the socca first. Note that the batter will need to sit for at least 30 minutes. Don’t make the roasted vegetables while the batter is resting – they will be cold by the time the socca is ready. After baking the socca, then roast the vegetables. Warm up the socca again by sticking it on the top rack of the oven while the vegetables are roasting, during the last 5 minutes or so.
Sift chickpea flour in a large bowl. Add salt and pepper, combine well.
Whisk in water and olive oil. Stir in basil. The batter should be very thin. The more water you add, the thinner the socca will be. Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and allow batter to sit for at least 30 minutes (ideally a few hours). You can also cover and refrigerate it overnight.
While the batter is resting, go ahead and prep the vegetables by washing, peeling and chopping as needed. Spread vegetables onto lightly oiled baking sheet. Drizzle olive oil over the top. Sprinkle with seasonings. Use your hands to toss the vegetables in the oil and seasonings until evenly coated. Set aside. DO NOT roast the vegetables yet (see NOTES above).
After batter has rested for at least 30 minutes, place two 9″ round cake pans or a large cast iron skillet in the oven and preheat to 500ºF. If you don’t have two cake pans, you can do one at a time like I did. When the oven is to temperature, carefully remove the pans. Add about ½ to 1 Tbsp of olive oil to each pan. Swirl the oil around in the pan to get even coating all the way around and up the sides a bit. Return pans to oven for a couple of minutes to heat up the oil.
Carefully remove pans from the oven and pour batter in each pan. How much batter you pour will depend on the desired thickness. If you want two 9″ soccas that are quite thick, then pour half the batter into each 9″ pan. If you want thinner soccas, then pour a third of the batter into each 9″ pan (you’ll need to repeat the process with the remaining batter for the third socca). If using olives, divide them evenly and sprinkle on top of the batter.
Bake for about 5 to 8 minutes, until it is firm and the edges are set. Broil on high for an additional 3 to 5 minutes, until the top gets golden brown and some charred spots appear.
Remove pans from oven. Place a cutting board face down on top of pan. Then carefully flip the pan and board over together so the socca releases from the pan. Cut into wedges (or leave whole for easy re-heating). Original recipe didn’t say to let the pans sit for a while or cool on a rack, so I did this right away and it worked beautifully. Only a little bit of the socca stuck to the pan on the bottom.
Preheat oven to 425ºF. Roast the prepared vegetables (from STEP 4) for about 20-25 minutes, until tender and lightly browned. During the last 5 minutes or so, add the socca to the top rack of the oven to warm it up.
Serve vegetables on top of or alongside the socca.