Monday, February 7, 2011

Socca with Sun-dried Tomatoes, Anchovy Filets and Cheese


This is socca. A Mediterranean street food from the Nicoise region of France, it's made with four basic indgredients: chickpea (or garbanzo) flour, black pepper, water and olive oil, rendering it not only very simple to make, but agreeable to vegetarians, vegans and gluten free folks all.

The hit of black pepper and olive oil as you scrape this from the pan and pop it into your mouth is just short of revelatory.  I've already made it twice this week: first quite plain with dried herbs, then the version you see here with sun-dried tomatoes, chopped fresh thyme and rosemary, anchovy filets and a sheep's milk cheese called Lamb Chopper because I was out of chevre.  Topping possibilities seem quite endless.

You can make the batter in the morning or anytime during the day you wish to cook it, cover it and let it sit until you're ready for an appetizer and glass of wine before dinner.  Then just heat up your pan, pour in the batter, cook for 15 minutes, if that, and enjoy.  Be careful though, it's addictive. The first time I made it it became dinner, as we kept eating until the pan was empty.

I used a gluten free garbanzo/fava bean flour from Bob's Red Mill because that's what I had on hand. It worked very nicely.  Be sure to sift the bean flour as it can clump in storage especially if kept in the fridge -  which is where it should be to keep it fresh.

With nods to Mark Bittman and Martha Rose Shulman's Mediterranean Light, here is my first offering of socca. It won't be the last.

Socca with Sun-dried Tomatoes, Anchovies and Cheese
Christine's adaptation from Mediterranean Light
(Print recipe)
Ingredients:
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons chickpea flour (also known as garbanzo flour) or garbanzo/fava flour, sifted
1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
1 full teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, half of it medium grind, the other half course grind
1 teaspoon each chopped fresh thyme and chopped fresh rosemary
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm water
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
8-10 sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, coarsely chopped (optional)
8 anchovy filets packed in oil, drained, left whole (optional)
1/2 cup coarsely grated sheep's milk cheese (optional)
Preparation:
Pre-heat the oven to 400-degrees.
Sift the bean flour into a bowl then add the salt, pepper and herbs, if using, and whisk to blend.
Whisk in the warm water, carefully blending away all the lumps.
Stir in 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and set aside.
Put the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a 12-inch cast iron pan or other heavy skillet and put in the hot oven for 5 to 7 minutes.
When the oil is hot, remove the pan from the oven and pour in the batter, scraping the sides of the bowl to get it all into the hot pan.
Immediately put the pan back in the oven and bake for 5 minutes or until the batter is just set.  Bring the pan out of the oven, sprinkle with the cheese then arrange the anchovy filets and the sun-dried tomatoes over the surface of the batter and return it to the oven to cook another 10 minutes or so until the batter is cooked through. It should pull away from the sides of the pan slightly.
If you are not using toppings as I did, simply leave the unadorned batter and pan in the oven for a total of 12-15 minutes cooking time.  This will of course vary with the quirks of your oven. I encourage experimentation until you get it just the way you want it.
Upon removing the finished socca from the oven, allow it to cool for just a few minutes, cut it in to wedges and serve hot.

Cook's Notes:
I know 4 tablespoons seems like a lot of oil, and it is. But my research says that's pretty authentic. Experiment with using less if you wish, but it's really a big part of the flavor.
Again from my skimpy research, the original socca may have had herbs added to it, but other than that was pretty plain.  I suggest beginners start with the plain version so you know what the taste is like then take off from there.
I just saw that I'm not alone in writing about socca. Mary at One Perfect Bite posted hers today and Julie at A Mingling of Tastes put her version up a few days ago. I am constantly amazed at the collective consciousness of food bloggers.
My friend, Kalyn also posted a recipe for socca several years ago. You can see the post here.






Copyright © 2005-2011, Christine Cooks. All rights reserved

7 comments:

Kalyn said...

I discovered this type of flatbread snack and wrote about it a few years ago, and I agree it is quite addictive! Your version with the toppings looks especially good!

Christine said...

When I did a search of food blogs to see who else may have written about socca, no one came up. I'll find your post and link to it, Kalyn. Thanks for letting me know.

Statii Maritime said...

I was in France last May and I remember eating socca and I loved it but I didn’t remember it’s name by the time I came back so I couldn’t find the recipe. Your are a life saver. Thank you so much.

Anonymous said...

Looks fab Christine, nice to see your links to the other versions.
Anne

Mary said...

I love your version of socca. You've used a thicker batter than mine but your results are wonderful. I hope you have a great day. Blessings...Mary

Christine said...

You're welcome, Statii.

Thanks Anne. Are you going to give it a try?

Mary, you are a dear. Thanks so much!

Spadoman said...

Glad I stopped by here today. I knew you were up to making something tasty and good. I'll trythis when i return home. I like the simplicity of this and the use like a bread without the use of wheat flour. Olive oilmis good for you, never too much. I'll experiment, I promise, and let you know how it worked out.
Thanks.

Peace.