I have just recently discovered a whole new food that I never knew existed. A mind blowingly delicious food. A healthy, protein filled, wheat and gluten free food. A super quick and easy food. I feel cheated that I have been going through life unaware of the existance of Socca! For those of you who don’t know, Socca, also known as Farinata, Torta Di Ceci or Cecina is a type of flat bread made from chickpea flour, popular mainly along the Ligurian Sea coast from Nice, France to Pisa, Italy -having apparently originated in Genoa. There is also a very similar dish from Algeria called Karantita.
I came across the basic recipe for Socca or Farinatta while browsing popular cooking blog The Kitchn. Chickpeas are one of my favourite foods ever and I am always eager to find new wheat free versions of bread so I began experimenting with it straight away. I expected that I would mess it up a few times before I got it right, but on my first go it came out perfect, illustrating just how easy it is. You simply make a batter of chickpea flour, water, oil and seasoning. This can then be cooked under the grill/broiler, or oven baked, and it can be varied to a thin or thick consistency. Olive oil is more traditionally used but I find coconut oil particularly delicious with Socca. I sprinkle the wedges liberally with salt and pepper when done. They are best eaten piping hot. Chickpea flour or Gram Flour as it is also know can be easily found in Middle Eastern and South Asian stores.
I have mostly just been eating Socca on it’s own as it is so tasty, quick and easy -perfect for a snack. I wanted however to begin experimenting by using it as a bread and pizza substitute also. This quinoa tabbouleh goes brilliantly with thin wedges of Socca instead of Lebanese flat bread -making this meal perfect for people avoiding wheat and gluten. Middle Eastern cuisine is probably my favourite type of food. There are great vegetarian and vegan options and it tends to be very healthy. I usually do a twist on classic taboulleh salad by using quinoa instead of bulghar wheat. The flavour remains pretty much exactly the same but the wheat and gluten is cut out, while raising the protein content massively.
1/2 cup red quinoa
1 handful fresh flat leaf parsley
1 tbsp fresh mint (finely chopped)
2 plum tomatoes
1/2 medium onion
2 cloves garlic
3 tbsp olive oil
Juice of half a lemon
Socca / Chickpea Flatbread
1 cup gram flour
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp chilli powder
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1-2 clove garlic (grated)
3-4 tbsp Coconut Oil
Cook the quinoa and combine it with all of the other ingredients. I like to do this in a food processor as I hate chopping onions and herbs! To make the Socca, sieve the gram flour plus one cup of water in to a bowl. Add the spices and herbs, then whisk vigorously to remove some of the lumps. Allow to stand for ten minutes to half an hour. To cook under the grill/broiler, melt some coconut oil in a frying pan underneath the grill. Make sure that you use plenty of oil so that the mixture doesn’t stick. When melted, pour the batter in to the pan and place under the grill until cooked, crisping and browning. Remove with a spatula. For a thinner pancake, split the batter in half and make two batches. This is what I did for this recipe. Each crepe took about 10 minutes but it will depend on the heat level and distance from the grill. For a thicker pancake, you will obviously need to leave it under the heat much longer. Alternatively you can bake the batter on a rimmed pizza stone or similar tray until set and cooked through.
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