Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Nice and Socca

best socca in the market

The first time I had socca was last year in Nice.  Socca is like a pancake, but made from garbanzo bean flour and is a specialty of Nice. It is why I ended up on the Riviera.
I often plan my vacations in the pursuit of food, so when I saw a recipe in a cookbook, I decided I had to try the real thing.  I was headed to Paris anyway for my birthday, and figured I couldn't go wrong with a side trip to the Riviera. Plus I liked saying to everyone "oh yes, I 'm going to the Riviera for my birthday".

Modern Art Museum


Nice was spectacular and I soon became addicted to socca.  I've seen many recipes since, all basically the same with slight variations.  

Here is how I make mine at home:
2c. garbanzo bean (chickpea) flour
2c. water 
1 1/2 T. olive oil + more for pan
1t. salt 
a few good grinds of black pepper
This yields 4 socca pancakes.

Whisk all the ingredients together until smooth. I do this at least a half an hour ahead, and up to a day ahead ( I sometimes forget about it until the next meal). This allows the flour to become hydrated.  The batter will be pourable like that of any pancake batter, and will spread in the pan.

Pour the batter into a large hot pan over medium high heat coated with about 2t. of oil.  You want the pancake to be about 1/4 of an inch thick. You can encourage this by gently tipping the pan. When the surface of the pancake loses its wet sheen and the tiny bubbles that have appeared on the surface pop, it is time to turn it over. This takes a few minutes.

It should be golden and browned in spots before turning. Turn it over gently with a spatula, and cook for another couple of minutes on the other side. Transfer from the pan to a plate that you can put in the oven to keep warm while you make the others. You could also reheat them for a few minutes at the end.

These are great because they are wheat free, vegan, and provide protein to a vegetarian meal.

I like mine topped with caramelized onions and roasted cherry tomatoes, with a sprinkling  of thyme or parsley.  They are also a great alternative to rice or chapati with Indian food.

Other great toppings: 
a fried or poached egg and some cooked greens, or fried potatoes
cheese (of course)

To roast cherry tomatoes just cut them in half, toss them with a bit of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt, and put them in a 350 degree oven until they collapse. You will want to keep an eye on them and give them a stir once in a while, but they should take about 25 minutes.  You can let them go longer if you want the tomatoes to be more caramelized and the juices more condensed.

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