Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Socca (Provencal Chickpea Flour Pancake)

Chickpea flour is one of those amazing things I discovered relatively late (like olives, which I thought were disgusting until I was in my 30s; now I would mainline them if I could just figure out how to go about it). I'd eaten it in Indian cooking forever, but it never occurred to me to take some home and play around with it. Turns out that you can make a lot more than dosai with this stuff; I've already posted about the wonderfulness that is "fronch" toast, and with this recipe we travel to the sunny south of France, where we get to eat chickpea flour and olives on the same plate! (Can't you just smell that lavender?)

This baked pancake is sort of like a fritatta, sort of like a dosa, and sort of like a pizza. It's a bit fiddly, and after substituting a cast iron pizza pan for the big cast iron skillet we no longer have, I highly recommend using the latter, even if you have to go out and buy one: I know what I want from Santa this year. That said, it's totally worth it, and it made a delicious brunch on a Saturday morning (oh, all right, it was actually 12.30pm, but whatever), and in fact there was so much leftover that we had it again on Sunday; with the addition of a nice green salad, it could be a perfectly acceptable lunch or dinner as well. It's traditionally eaten as is, but since I can never leave well enough alone - and I was cooking as a procrastination tactic to put off writing a paper; gotta spin that action out as long as possible - I made a sort of saucy topping to spoon over the individual slices, for which I include the recipe. As those creepy Campbell's Soup kids used to say: mmm-mmm, good!

The Pancake
~ 2 cups chickpea flour
~ 1/2 tsp. each salt, thyme
~ A few grinds of black pepper
~ 3 cups warm water
~ 4 tbsp. olive oil

~ Preheat the oven to 500 degrees fahrenheit
~ In a mixing bowl, combine the chickpea flour, salt, spices, water and oil. Mix thoroughly with a whisk and set aside for 0 minutes (during that time you can prepare your topping, below).
~ After 30 minutes have passed, place an oiled cast iron skillet or deep-dish pizza pan in the oven for 5 minutes.
~ Give the batter another good stir, then pour it into the heated cast iron pan. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until solidified and brown, but not too crisp (don't worry, you'll know, really).
~ Remove from oven, allow to stand about 5 minutes before cutting into slices, and serving at once, covered with the topping below, or anything you like, really (next time I'm going to try it with caramelized onions and mushrooms).

The Topping
~ 1 tbsp. olive oil
~ 2 tbsp. minced garlic
~ 2 cups chopped onion
~ 1 bell pepper, chopped (about 1 cup)
~ 1 cup pitted, sliced black olives
~ 1 15. oz. can fire-roasted tomatoes
~ 1 tsp. each: salt, thyme, tarragon, basil
~ Lots of fresh black pepper
~ 1/2 cup white wine

~ In a large skillet or wok, heat the oil over medium heat and saute the garlic and onions 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently.
~ Add the seasonings, peppers, tomatoes and olives and stir to combine. Continue cooking another 10 minutes.
~ Raise the heat to high and add the wine; cook another 5-10 minutes, stirring often until the liquid reduces. Remove from heat and spoon over your slices of socca.


  1. I've never used chickpea flour and keep toying with the idea of buying some to use for - well, whatever! ha. now i think i definitely will! I want to do a pizza-type dinner during the week and this would fit the bill i believe. A ricotta tofu spread on this maybe, covered with caramelized onions and fresh basil? would that work with this maybe? homemade pizza dough has to sit for 1 to 1 1/2 hours - too long for us during the week - we need quick yet healthy dinners!

  2. The texture is somewhere between a crepe and a dosa, so you couldn't pick up slices like you do with ordinary pizza dough, it's definitely knife and fork territory (at least mine was)! But the taste is yummy, so if you didn't mind transferring slices to plates and serving it that way, I'm sure it would be fine. Again, though: use the skillet!

  3. Thanks for the info! still sounds yummy and will try:) I have lots of cast iron skillets so good time to put one to use!!

  4. Mmmm intriguing!
    I like the sound of this very much (Olives being my all time fave).
    I recently made some Pakoras and had ran out of Chickpea Flour so I used Pea Flour instead and they were AMAZING!!
    If you can get Pea Flour then I highly recommend you play around with that too.
    If I don’t get the chance before (I'm off to the UK in 3 days)- have a very happy and healthy Christmas and New Year.

  5. Happy holidays to you, too, Jeni; have fun in the UK!

  6. Socca has been on my vague I need to cook it one day list - I think that I need to move it to the cook very soon list.