Last weekend Christian and I threw a party to celebrate our engagement. We had celebrated with friends and family in Canada over the summer, but we also wanted to do something here in the UK. October 1st was our 9-year anniversary (time flies!), so we thought it would be nice to host a party on that date with our friends here in London. We had the party at our place and I put together a spread of all kinds of (mostly vegetarian) dishes for the occasion: grilled eggplant with buttermilk sauce and za'atar, herb and roasted tomato tortillata, avocado spread, tzatziki, a cheese platter complete with figs, dates and grapes, lentil and sweet potato salad, all kinds of veggies and the obligatory plates of charcuterie for the omnivores. I also made my favourite healthy banana chocolate cookies and peanut butter buckeyes for dessert.
I had also prepared some socca batter for a little later on in the evening. For those of you who aren't familiar with the dish, it is a thin and savoury crepe made of chickpea flour, water, olive oil and seasonings. It originates from Nice, France, and is typically served as street food accompanied with a glass of rosé or chilled red wine. I used to enjoy it on hot sunny days when I lived in Nice. Besides the Mediterranean Sea and the sunshine, socca is one of the things I dream about when thinking back on my time on the beautiful Côte d'Azur.
This recipe is my take on socca. I absolutely love smoked paprika and I think it makes a great addition to socca, along with dried rosemary and chili flakes. Socca is great eaten on its own as an appetizer torn or sliced into small pieces, but it also makes a great gluten free substitute for wraps or pizza crust. Because it's made of chickpea flour, it's also more nutritious and filling than your average bread substitute. While shooting the photos for this post, I also prepared a socca pizza for dinner using leftover vegetarian puttanesca sauce, thinly sliced zucchini and crumbled feta cheese. I highly recommend the combination!
Socca is great eaten on its own as an appetizer or snack, but it also makes a great gluten free wrap or pizza crust substitute. The traditional socca recipe doesn't include spices, but I find that smoked paprika, chili flakes and rosemary are welcome additions. The batter should be left to rest for at least half an hour prior to cooking.
- 2 cups chickpea flour (also known as gram flour or besan), sieved
- 2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp dried chili flakes
- 1 tsp dried rosemary
- 2 tsp fine pink Himalayan salt (or to taste)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups water, room temperature
- 2 tbsp olive oil, plus more for the pan
Combine the chickpea flour, smoked paprika, dried chili flakes, dried rosemary, salt and pepper in a large mixing bowl and stir to combine. Slowly whisk in the water and the olive oil until the mixture is completely smooth. Let the batter sit for 1-3 hours at room temperature (or at least half an hour) prior to cooking.
When you are ready to cook the socca, heat a large non-stick pan over medium-high heat. When the pan is hot, add a bit of olive oil. Using a ladle, add about 2 ladles of batter to the pan, then lift the pan by the handle and make circular motions to spread the batter evenly across the surface of the pan. Let cook for approximately 3-4 minutes (this depends on how hot your pan is) - the centre of the socca should begin to raise and bubble and the edges should curl in and become crispy. Once the first side is cooked, use a spatula to flip the socca. Let cook for another 2-3 minutes. Transfer the socca to a cutting board or a plate, and enjoy straight away, either torn or cut into small pieces. The socca can also be kept whole to make a pizza crust or wraps. Repeat the above procedure for the remaining batter.
Makes 6-8 rounds of socca, depending on the size of your pan.