I was organizing my cupboards (shoving things aside to make room for a tin of raisins) when I came upon a bag of chickpea flour that had been pushed to the back corner. The last time I had used it was to make socca, the flavourful flatbread (also known as a chickpea crepe) that is a street-food staple in Nice.
Socca is meant to be simple and quick; eaten alone it makes a savoury, nutty appetizer or snack. You can add herbs such as rosemary to the batter or pile socca with toppings such as sundried tomatoes, arugula, tapenade and feta, wilted spinach and grated hard-boiled egg – think gourmet pizza. Due to the chickpea flour, socca is vegan and gluten-free – and best of all, can be whipped up in no time at all.
Into a medium bowl add 1 cup of chickpea flour, 1 cup of water and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Whisk until smooth and season with 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Set aside to rest for a minimum of 20 minutes or refrigerate overnight (to allow flavours to develop and batter to thicken). Before cooking the socca, check the batter; it should have the consistency of crêpe batter, about as dense as full-fat cream. Thin it with a few tablespoons of water if needed.
There are two ways to cook your socca: For a more tender, crêpe-like texture, heat a 10-inch non-stick pan over medium heat. Oil lightly and add 1 ladle of the batter. Cook until browning on the bottom, then flip and lightly brown the other side. Remove from the pan. Or, for a crisper, flat-bread style, preheat your oven to 450 F.
Heat an oven-safe 10-inch pan in the hot oven for 5 minutes. Remove from the oven (the handle will be very hot), lightly oil and add a ladle of the batter. Return to the oven and bake about 5 minutes – until the top is browning or the edges are crisp. You can now heat up the broiler and leave the socca for 1 to 2 minutes to crisp even more. Remove from the pan. Makes 4 servings, which you can serve whole with toppings or cut into triangles to be eaten with other appetizers.