What is socca? It’s a pancake made with chickpea flour. A more complete explanation comes from Google:
Farinata, socca, torta di ceci, or cecina is a type of thin, unleavened pancake or crêpe made from chickpea flour. It originated in Italy and later became a typical food of the Ligurian Sea coast, from Nice to Sardinia and Elba islands. It is also typical in Gibraltar, where it is called calentita.
Socca is gluten-free and dairy free. In this recipe crumbled feta is added to the salad, leave it out for a dairy-free and vegan meal.
The recipe comes from salad freak by Jess Damuck.
There are a couple of ways I will change this when I make it next time. Suggestion number one has to do with the batter. The socca batter is baked in a 12-inch cast-iron or round griddle pan. The pancake was quite thick and although it was crisp on the outside, it was more like a regular fluffy pancake in the middle. The salad makes enough for two pancakes. And there is enough batter to make two thinner pancakes, which would be crisper.
Suggestion number two is that I would dress the salad with a tablespoon of mild vinegar, two of olive oil, salt, and pepper. The pesto would be dolloped on top, each person could mix it in as desired. I felt it was lost as a dressing for the salad.
I plan to make this again very soon with the changes noted above. Meanwhile, I will post this as it was written in the book, let me know what you think.
- 1 bunch of fresh carrots with their tops. Peel the carrots and reserve the tops
- 2 lemons
- 3 radishes
- 3 scallions
- Fresh chives with their flowers
- 1/3 cup of feta cheese, crumbled
- Big pinch of saffron
- 1 cup of chickpea flour
- 1 cup of lukewarm water
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons of olive oil
For the pesto and salad:
- 1/3 cup of olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon
- 1/2 cup of sliced almonds, toasted
- Crushed red pepper flakes
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F, and place a 12-inch cast-iron skillet or round griddle inside
Prepare the socca batter –
- Add a big pinch of saffron to the 1 cup of lukewarm water, and let it seep for 10 minutes.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together 1 cup of chickpea flour and 1 teaspoon of salt (kosher), add the saffron water and 1/4 cup of olive oil. Whisk until smooth and set aside.
Prepare the pesto –
- Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil.
- Put a bowl of water in the sink with some ice cubes, this will be your ice bath.
- Remove the tops for the carrots, discarding any tough stems or wilted leaves. Rinse the tops well until clean. Add them to the boiling water and cook for about 30 seconds, until bright green. Transfer the tops to the ice bath with a slotted spoon or spider. Once cool, remove the tops and squeeze out any excess moisture. Spread them on paper towels or a tea towel to dry completely.
- Once dry, finely chop them in a small bowl. Stir in 1/3 cup of olive oil, the zest and juice of 1 lemon, and 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon. Taste and season with salt. (I used a mini food processor for this step.)
Prepare the salad –
- Using a Y-peeler or a mandoline, create thin ribbons from the carrots.
- Thinly slice the radishes.
- Add both vegetables to the ice bath used for the carrot tops. This will crisp them while you cook the socca.
- Slice the scallions and chives (if using)
Make the socca –
- Carefully remove the preheated pan from the oven and place it on top of the stove.
- Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the scallions and cook until softened.
- Carefully pour the batter into the pan and return it to the oven.
- Bake until golden brown and completely set – 10 to 12 minutes. For additional color, you can broil it for a couple of minutes.
- Drain the carrots and radishes, pat them dry, and add them to a bowl. Toss with a few spoonfuls of the pesto, 1/2 cup of toasted almonds, 1/3 cup of crumbled feta, and the chives.
- Scatter this mixture on top of the socca and serve with the pepper flakes on the side.
Everything could be made ahead, baked, and assembled at the last minute. Other recipes I have seen for socca call for letting the batter rest, in the fridge, for several hours. The salad would be more flavorful if it had a chance to soak up some of the dressing. Goat cheese would be a good stand in for the feta.
It’s a wonderful, light, flavorful meal. It could even be a starter, cut into small portions.