Let the Socca Games Begin... as in Kickass Chickpea Flatbread
I am a socca star. You may not be seeing me at the London Olympics anytime soon, but my summer kitchen has recently become the World Cup of chickpeas. I lost my socca virginity on a hot summer day in July, and ever since, it’s been a wild love affair. And a hot one at that (read: your oven broiler on high heat).
“La socca” is a chickpea flatbread, otherwise known as a chickpea pancake, otherwise known as a chickpea crust, otherwise known as a chickpea pizza, otherwise known as a chickpea crepe, otherwise known as a chickpea tart, otherwise known as a chickpea - okay, you get the idea. However you slice it (as the French say, “the word is not innocent”), socca is a delicious and quite versatile dish that can be eaten all year long, but, in my opinion, is perfect for summertime. Socca is vegan and gluten-free, but I promise that if you serve this at a summertime barbecue, your carnivorous friends may not even notice that it’s healthy.
While legumes can be tough to digest for some people (cough, cough), chickpea flour, especially if you soak it all day, is much easier on the body. Chickpeas are a great source of protein, fiber (mostly of the insoluble variety), vitamins and minerals. This dish is hearty and filling enough for a main course, yet also light enough for a hot summer day. This makes for a great appetizer to please a hungry crowd.
The Italians call it “farinata,” but I just call it delicious. In fact, true socca purists from Nice would be saying “sacre bleu!” to learn of my liberal adaptation of the classic recipe, but I’ve used socca as a crust for a tart or quiche, as pizza dough and as sandwich “bread” successfully.
This version features my favorite summer green sauce that is rich in chlorophyll and flavor and also takes advantage of seasonal goodies like tomatoes and basil. You can top socca with anything you want, but please promise me that you will eat this piping hot out of the oven.
Feel free to adapt to your tastes and whims – try a fiery Mexican version and add cumin, coriander and cayenne to the crust and top with avocado and cilantro or add curry powder to the crust for an Indian twist and top with a sweet potato puree or carrots.
This socca really kicks butt. Bon appétit!
Serves 2 as a main course (well, perhaps two French people – it’s perfect for one hungry American, I can easily polish this off in one sitting) or 6-ish as an appetizer or snack, cut into mini squares or pizza-like slices
- 1 cup of chickpea flour (I like Bob’s Red Mill brand – if anyone has found organic chickpea flour in America, please let me know as I haven’t found it anywhere, though it is quite ubiquitous in France)
- 1 cup of water (filtered, bien sûr, and, even better, alkaline!)
- 3 tablespoons of (really good, extra virgin) olive oil
- A pinch of black pepper (or more, if you can take the heat)
- A pinch of Himalayan salt
- Herbs of choice, preferably fresh and seasonal such as basil and/or parsley and/or oregano
- *optional: sliced red onion
- *optional: a tablespoon or two of coconut oil to coat the pan
Mix the chickpea flour with the water and olive oil, salt and pepper and whisk to combine. Let sit at room temperature for at least ½ hour, but preferably all day.
When you’re ready to eat, chop herbs and add to the mixture.
Pre-heat the oven to 450°F. Place either one 13" cast-iron pan or two 7" pans in the oven (you can coat with a high-heat cooking oil such as coconut) until hot, then remove, add your flour mixture, and place back into the oven. This should take between 6-10 minutes depending on your oven. When the bottom looks cooked through either flip over and cook for a few more minutes or put it under your broiler until browned (but not too burned please!).
Remove from oven, plate and add the green sauce and toppings.
“Green Flower” Green sauce à la Lafleur Verte
- 1 generous cup of fresh herbs: basil, parsley, mint and/or your herbs of choice (though I don’t recommend cilantro here; it will overpower the others)
- 1 handful of arugula
- 1 clove of fresh garlic
- The juice of 1 lemon
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- *optional: 1 tablespoon of nutritional yeast (this is optional, but it adds a nice “cheesy” flavor, thicker texture and extra B vitamins to boot)
Put all ingredients into a blender and blend, baby, blend, until the sauce is smooth.
- A handful of sun dried tomatoes (soaked until soft)
- Sliced tomatoes
- Chopped basil and chives
- A handful of arugula
- Fresh sprouts (I used sunflower, but use any you can find… or grow yourself if you’re just that ambitious, in which case, send them my way, and bravo!)