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.
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Prep time: 2.5 hours (including resting time)
Makes: 4 pancakes
200g chickpea flour (besan/gram flour)
375ml tepid water
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp cumin
1 courgette (zucchini)
2 cloves garlic
salt and pepper
olive oil for frying
6 fresh mint leaves
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.
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.
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.