Of my top-five meals, socca is the easiest and fastest to make.
What is this thing called socca? It's a flat pancake made from chickpea flour cooked at high heat in a cast-iron pan. Crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside, and totally addictive, socca is like a healthier version of french fries.
I first met Mark Bittman and chickpea flour through his socca recipe A Street Treat from Nice in the New York Times. (Nice being the French seaside resort.) His version works beautifully as an appetizer, but has too much oil for a main dish. My version cuts the oil in half and cooks the onion before adding the batter, spreading the carmelized onion flavor though the socca.
My newest twist, which you'll find in the recipe below, takes the socca back outside to the home grill. Now I can have socca all summer long without heating up the house. Last night, I grilled zucchini and peaches along side the socca. It also pairs well with the Marinated Green Beans in Wildly Affordable Organic.
Vegan and gluten-free, socca makes a terrific, inclusive addition to your holiday grilling or pizza party. Given the French support during our Great Rebellion, socca makes a particularly appropriate feast for Independence Day. Bon appétit, y'all!
Active time: 15 minutes. Total time: 30 minutes. (See notes below for tips on making ahead or cooking batches.) Serves 2 as a main dish or 4 to 6 as an appetizer.
1 cup chickpea flour (also called garbanzo bean flour, gram flour, or besan)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup warm water (about 110° F)
2 tablespoons olive oil
- Put a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet or griddle on the grate of a gas grill. Preheat grill to medium (about 500 degrees). Prepare a landing spot for the hot pan; I put a sturdy metal trivet on the rack next to the grill.
- Whisk together dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Whisk in warm water until mixture is smooth, then stir in one tablespoon olive oil.
- Cut onion half from stem end to root end, then slice crossways as thinly as you can. If you are making several batches, a food processor makes this a snap. Pour the remaining tablespoon of olive olive in the hot skillet, add onion slices, and stir until golden brown, about three minutes.
- Spread onions evenly on the skillet, then pour chickpea batter over the onions. Cover the grill and cook for about 10 minutes, until bottom of socca is golden brown and top is set.
- Cut socca in half (I use the edge of a metal spatula) and turn it over, half a time. Cover grill again and cook until both sides are browned but the center is still creamy.
- Tear or cut socca into sections, then serve hot or at room temperature. Refrigerate any extras and toast in a toaster oven to restore crispness before serving.
Tips and Notes:
- Mix up the batter and slice the onion the day before for quick party preparation. Refrigerate both.
- If you have a big grill and more than one skillet, make more than one socca at a time.
- Making additional soccas in the same pan takes just another minute or so of prep and flipping, plus the 15 minutes cooking time. Let the Socca Grill Master at your next party make custom versions: with or without onions, green peppers, garlic, and chopped fresh rosemary.