I heard about socca for the first time just a few years ago, I think it was back in 2010 when a friend’s mom, who’d just returned from living abroad for many years invited us to dinner.
We had roasted ratatouille and couscous, I remember the couscous had strands of saffron and the food smelled heavenly.
We drank wine from the Jura region (of France) while our host regaled us with tales of her travels; she was trying at one point to convince us that couscous was essentially ‘French food’ and some weren’t swayed, that threw the conversation into foods that didn’t’ necessarily seem French, like socca.
The best socca, she explained, could be found on the streets of Nice from hole-in-the wall diners to fancy restaurants.
She described this humble street-food, made simply of chickpea flour, water, olive oil and salt, transformed into a thin pancake-like flatbread with crispy edges – was the most exquisite thing she’d ever eaten.
I promised myself socca was the first meal I’d eat if I were ever lucky enough to go to Nice.
I didn’t’ give it much thought until a few months ago while flipping through a copy of David Lebovitz’s The Sweet Life in Paris I’d borrowed from someone at work.
In there was a recipe for socca; plain, simple and very tempting.
I made it on a Saturday morning, just before we were to set out on a hike, I’d heard it was filling, high in good protein and healthy carbs; I decided it was just what we needed. The hike, by the way, never happened – but our tummies were full.
It’s one of the easiest things I’ve ever made, it’s not a fancy or pretty looking dish… it isn’t superficial but it’s ridiculously delicious – almost addictive!
We ate it plain, right out of the pan, standing and not bothering to sit.
Naturally, it’s vegan and gluten free.
- 1 cup chickpea flour
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- freshly-ground black pepper, additional sea salt and olive oil for serving
- Mix flour, water, salt, cumin, pepper, and 1 1/2 tablespoons of the olive oil
- Let batter rest at least 2 hours, covered, at room temperature
- To cook, heat the broiler in your oven
- Oil a 9- or 10-inch (23cm) pan with the remaining olive oil and heat the pan in the oven
- Once the pan and the oven are blazing-hot, pour enough batter into the pan to cover the bottom, swirl it around, then pop it back in the oven
- Bake until the socca is firm and beginning to blister and burn. The exact time will depend on your broiler
- Slide the socca out of the pan onto a cutting board, slice into pieces, then shower it with coarse salt, pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil
- Cook the remaining socca batter the same way, adding a touch more oil to the pan between each one