I’ve known about socca for ages, but my interest in it peaked when we were planning our first-ever trip earlier this year to the south of France. I thought our first taste of socca would be in Nice, but instead it was in Antibes, when we chanced upon a socca-maker (baker?) at the weekly covered farmer’s market. The large, thin pancakes of chickpea flour, water and olive oil were swiftly removed from the wood-fired oven on wheels, sliced into segments, salted and peppered, and portioned onto for blissful consumption on the spot (see video below).
Our second sampling was by chance, when we went into the little town of Vence that we were renting an apartment outside of. The farmers market was shutting down for the day, but the socca cart was still going strong for a few more rounds. The only thing missing (in both cases, sadly) was a cool glass of rosé. Vive la France!
Chickpea flour can be used in so many ways (as the cookbook Chickpea Flour Does it All neatly sums it up) but socca is definitely my favorite ways to use it (as I wrote about in The Seattle Times recently). Socca is popular not just in southern France, but also in Italy (where it’s called farinata). The traditional—and best—way to cook it is in a wood-fired oven (mobile or otherwise), but you can easily make do with your home oven using a skillet or pizza pan. Having experienced both, I wouldn’t say that the homemade version is exactly the same, but it is quite delicious!
In Seattle, you can usually find chickpea (garbanzo bean) flour at Whole Foods, PCC Natural Markets, and other higher-end and/or natural food markets. I’ll admit that I sometimes have a hard time finding straight chickpea flour. The closest Whole Foods to me (in South Lake Union) only carries chickpea/fava bean flour. I ended up ordering it from Bob’s Red Mill, along with a bunch of other stuff (including sorghum). You can also find it easily on Amazon.
Serves 4-6 as an appetizer or side
- 1 cup chickpea flour
- ¾ teaspoon sea salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cumin (you can substitute a tablespoon of finely chopped rosemary, thyme or oregano, or use no spices or herbs at all)
- 1 cup water
- 2 tablespoons olive oil + more for the pan
Combine dry ingredients in a mixing bowl and whisk to combine. Slowly add the water, whisking to break up any lumps. Add the 2 tablespoons olive oil and briefly whisk again. Cover and allow to sit undisturbed for at least 1 hour but up to 12 hours.
Place one oven rack in the middle and another about 6 inches from the top. Place a cast-iron or other heavy 10- to 12-inch skillet or pizza pan in the oven and preheat to 450 degrees.
Carefully remove the hot pan and add 1 tablespoon of oil, swirling to coat the bottom of the pan. Whisk the chickpea batter briefly, then pour it into the pan and put back in the oven. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until it looks firm and the edges are set.
Heat the broiler and brush the top of the socca with more olive oil, if desired. Set the pan on top rack and broil until the socca is browned in spots.
Use a spatula to remove the socca from the pan, cut into wedges, and serve hot!