socca…socca…socca! No, I not watching the World Cup games though I did enjoy a game or two of soccer back in the good old days when I actually had lungs. But I digress…
socca, socca, socca…That’s what the socca vendors in Nice, Provence would call out when wheeling their carts about selling their wares. And that’s what I’ve been yelling about the house these days…P thinks I have finally lost my marbles
Thanks to a good friend, N, I had my first taste of Socca -alas, not in Nice- but in Berkeley at Socca Oven located in the new Epicurious Garden on Shattuck Avenue. Socca’s are pancakes made of chickpea (aka garbanzo bean or gram) flour, water and extra virgin olive oil. At SO they finish the soccas in an open flame clay oven with various toppings – sort of like pizza but not. N & I had tapenade and salt cod – a bit salty but I am a salt fiend. P had the zucchini and loved it. I was hooked and am now a socca addict – we’ve had them for dinner twice now.
In my research I found that these are traditionally made in copper tins – large ones, from 50-70 cm in diameter. Since my oven wasn’t that big, I opted for my 10 inch cast iron fry pan. At SO they were made a little less than a 1/4 inch thick but the thickness varies from that to as thin as a crepe. Seems that in France these are eaten plain with a glass of wine rather than topped as made at Socca Oven. I’m thinking these would be a nice appetizer in either case.
We liked ours thick but maybe slightly thinner than we had at SO. I’ve varied the toppings depending on what we had on hand. We had plenty of greens in the garden so one night we had sauteed kale and the other swiss chard. One version had roasted onions and garlic with goat cheese and anchovies. A veggie version had home grown baby zucchini.
I bet an Indian spiced version would be fun. In fact, in the western part of India there is a savory steamed chickpea ‘cake’ called Dhokla. One day I will have to try my hand at making some dhoklas.
Soccas are a great food – a nice gluten free alternative to the wheat flour crusted pizzas. And you’ve got fiber – the soluble type which is good for lowering cholesterol; protein which we all need for building bone, muscle and cartilage; folate which is good for the heart; magnesium which is needed to help relax your muscles; and many trace minerals. One trace mineral it is especially high in is molybdenum which interestingly enough helps the body detoxify sulfites which is found in some wines. Those French know how to eat and drink!
Here’s the recipe I used for the Socca pancakes.
Amount Measure Ingredient — Preparation Method
——– ———— ——————————–
2 cups chickpea flour
2 1/4 cups water
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 3/4 teaspoons sea salt
extra virgin olive oil for cooking the pancake
Toppings of your choice – some ideas: caramelized onions, roasted garlic, sauteed greens (kale, chard, spinach), olive tapenade, sundried tomatoes, any herb pesto, any roasted veggie, smoked salmon, salt cod, anchovies, any cheese, etc…
Whisk together all ingredients so there are no lumps. You can strain through a sieve or china cap if desired. Let sit for 10-15 minutes.
Preheat broiler to high or oven to 500F. Heat a 10 inch cast iron pan over medium heat until hot. Add about a tablespoon of olive oil. Pour about 3/4 cup of batter into pan. Cook until bottom is turning brown – this should take at least 3-4 minutes so turn up or down the heat as needed. Flip and cook until cooked through and brown. Transfer to baking sheet. Cook remaining pancakes – you should have enough batter for four.
Arrange your toppings on to the pancakes. Put under the broiler or in hot oven for a few minutes or until the toppings are heated through. Serve hot with a nice green salad.
Check out what other bloggers have created at:
Mahanandi’s Indian Dosa
In Praise of Sardines
The Scent of Green Bananas
The Travelers Lunchbox
And check out the Italian version here: