recipes / vegetables

SOCCA: The best chickpea pancakes, naturally gluten-free

socca2

This traditional Nicoise type pancake is usually served as an accompaniment to beer in a bar. Made from chickpea flour and then baked in a huge stone pizza oven, they are served cut into jagged pieces with a drizzle of olive oil and plenty of salt.

This recipe, however, takes into account the lack of pizza ovens in most households – simplifying the cooking process by frying the batter like a regular pancake. The distinctive chickpea flavour sets these pancakes apart and gives them a slightly chewy texture inside and a nice crispy shell.

They are a healthy alternative to the usual side of bread, potatoes or rice and are perfect served alongside tapas-like salads or vegetable dishes. Use the little triangles to scoop up mouthfuls of garlicked courgettes or sweet tomatoes, or sprinkle over a little cheese and herbs, grill, and have like a pizza.

This versatile recipe is delicious and also naturally vegan, dairy-free and gluten-free, making it an interesting dish to serve to guests with dietary requirements. So often vegans/vegetarians suffer the Mediterranean vegetable stack at the hands of a carnivorous cook who doesn’t care to expand the vegetarian repertoire – this is a nice alternative, and one to try even if you are a meat eater.

CLICK HERE to see this recipe as part of a meal plan.

Prep time: 2.5 hours (including resting time)

Makes: 4 pancakes

Ingredients:
200g chickpea flour (besan/gram flour)
375ml tepid water
2 tbsp olive oil
salt
1/2 tsp cumin

1 courgette (zucchini)
2 cloves garlic
salt and pepper
olive oil for frying
6 fresh mint leaves

Method:

To make the batter, combine all the ingredients well – whisking to ensure there are no lumps. Let the mixture sit for between 1-2 hours, allowing the chickpea flour to fully absorb the water and thicken the mixture.

When you are ready to fry the socca, take a heavy based frying pan and heat it over a high flame with a teaspoon of oil. Pour in one quarter of the mixture and swill around the pan until the surface is coated evenly. Allow the bottom to cook for 2-3 minutes before flipping over and browning the other side.

There are no hard and fast rules with cooking the socca – some people prefer the pancakes thicker and chewier, while I prefer mine thin and crispy. Repeat the process three more times. Socca is best eaten straight from the pan with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt, but you can keep them warm in the oven.

For the courgettes, simply cut into round and fry in a heavy based frying pan over a medium heat with finely chopped garlic, olive oil and plenty of salt and pepper. They are ready when they start to colour. Garnish with fresh mint.

socca

DELICIOUS ADDITIONS:

Spring onions or chives in the batter.

Experiment with spices – sumac for a Middle Eastern twist, smoked paprika for a Spanish twist, or maybe some cayenne for a kick.

SERVING SUGGESTIONS:

This recipe makes an excellent gluten-free pizza base, so why not go nuts with your favourite toppings and pop under the grill for a few minutes.

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