Earlier in the week I posted how to make your own chickpea flour easily and quickly at home, so I thought it only appropriate to share with you a recipe for how to use your fresh chickpea flour, and what better way to go than socca. This unleavened flatbread – also called farinata – is native to Southern France and Italy and made from chickpea flour, water and olive oil. Despite my Italian background however, I had never eaten socca, nor heard of it until recently.
My Nonna use to roast dried chickpeas on the fire, which she would call le cheech. My mother and her siblings would go crazy for these hard little burnt rocks which always confused me as to be they literally taste like little burnt rocks. Whether the le cheech were intended to be ground into flour to make farinata but never quite made it due to their, a-hem, irresistibleness – I’m not quite sure, but either way farinata did not form a part of the traditional Italian fare I grew up eating.
Farinata, or socca, is a great protein-rich and grain-free alternative to crepes or other flatbread. They can be eaten to mop up stews, curries and soups, or eaten on their own with a topping of choice. In Italy, they are often eaten with a drizzle of olive oil and some cracked pepper so I decided to use that idea but add a few extra elements to make it a bit more of a meal. I chose figs partly because they are native to this part of the world and I thought the light, fresh taste and texture of the figs would pair well with the dense socca, but also because I love them and every time I see them at the local store – which unfortunately isn’t often – I have to snap them up. Side note – last summer I bought my own little fig tree which I planted in a pot and place in the sunroom. It looked very miserable and tired all winter, but now that it’s been moved to the backyard it seems far happier, so hopefully we will have some fresh figs of our own soon!
The recipe below gives the instructions for cooking the socca on the stovetop, however if you want to cook them in the traditional way in the oven then head over to check out some great tips Katie has shared on how to ensure socca success over at Whole Nourishment.
This recipe is grain/gluten and nut free, though if you wish to make it dairy-free/vegan as well, you could easily omit the cheese completely, or even sprinkle some homemade vegan cheese across the top. Some cut up avocado would be lovely too to add a little creaminess, finished with a sprinkle of sea salt. I had a teeny tiny amount of hazelnuts left over from the last time I made these that I also sprinkled on top of one – amazing! If you try any flavour combinations that you absolutely love, please share them in the comments section so I can try your winning combo too!
- For the socca;
- 1 cup chickpea/besan/garbanzo/gram flour
- 1 cup water
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp salt
- For the toppings;
- 4 fresh figs, thinly sliced
- 30g Parmesan cheese, thinly grated
- Cracked pepper
- Place the socca ingredients in a bowl and leave to sit for at least half an hour. I find that when I make my own flour as opposed to buying it, I need to add around 1 - 2 Tbsp water extra. You want the mixture to be similar to that of pancake batter, through slightly runnier.
- Heat a cast iron skillet over medium to high heat. Add a little oil and pour in some of the mixture, around 1/6th of the batter. Quickly spread the batter over the base of the pan either by tilting the pan to let the batter run out, or using a spatula.
- Once small bubbles have started to appear and the underside has started to brown, flip the socca and cook for a minute or so on the other side until cooked and starting to brown. Remove and place on a plate in a just-warm oven while you cook the rest of the socca.
- To serve, arrange freshly sliced figs evenly across the socca, top with the Pamasen and a generous sprinkle of freshly cracked pepper.
Katie @ Whole Nourishment says
This looks amazing, Dearna! I can’t wait for fig season. In the meantime I should make socca on the stovetop. Thanks for sharing my tips!
Well I must say I have never heard of farinata till today. My mum never made it, so I am guessing its not an Abruzzese dish. I used to love ‘le cheech’ and I still roast and eat chick peas like that now, though I roast mine on the stove top.
The socca sounds delicious and worth a try! And especially with figs. One of my favorite fruits.
Socca ‘is’ Farinata, simply appropriated later in history by France. Any variance is due only to the whim
of individual preference when preparing Farinata in, for example, various size skillets, any additions, and whether or not it is started stove – top (mostly unlikely in Italy). Authentic Farinata, like all Italian cuisine is elegant to its core: flour, water and salt.
Let us be reminded that the Medici’s of Italy introduced tableware: forks, knives and spoons to the French.
I’m irked by the resistance, in our country, to give Italian cooking its due.
That being said, thank you for your lovely fig version.
Made the socca today, my first baking with chickpea flour, and it was great. I added herbes de Provence, which gave a nice flavor, and then spread mushroom/sweet potato pate on top. Yum. Thanks for the recipe!