If you haven’t jumped on the Socca bandwagon, there’s no better time than the spring! With wild ramps, fresh garlic, and leeks all ready to harvest and plentiful at the farmer’s markets, there are lots of alternatives if asparagus isn’t your thing.
I added some freshly cut chives from our garden, but use what you have. Or use dried herbs. Or don’t use any at all. “Plain” socca isn’t plain at all in flavor. It tastes rich (though it’s cheap), buttery (I can’t believe it’s not), and complex (but it’s so easy)!
Socca is street food from the Ligurian Sea coast so the name will vary depending on whether you’re in Nice, Genoa, or Tuscany. I assure you, no matter what you call it, it tastes like a dream! Close your eyes when eating for the full dream-like effect.
The recipe is simple. Really simple. Chickpea flour, water, and salt are really all you need. Chopped herbs and seasonal veggies are for looks and added texture. I recommend keeping the flavor combinations fresh and minimal. The chickpea flour is the star. No divas trying to steal the show please!
If you don’t have chickpea flour (also known as garbanzo bean flour, gram flour, and besan), I’ll wait for you to go get it. No joke. There are no substitutions for this starlet. I prefer to let the batter sit for a couple hours before baking a la David Lebovitz, but if you don’t have the time to wait I’m sure it will turn out great regardless. Just make sure that you whisk the flour well so there aren’t any clumps.
Being street food this clearly did not originate in an oven, but as you can see this recipe is so obliging that it works splendidly in a hot oven finishing with a quick broil. You can use a cast iron pan, a nonstick tart pan, or really any other metal baking pan (I shattered my Pyrex pie plate last time–whoops!).
The hardest thing about writing recipes for me is deciding how many they serve. A lot of times I’ll see recipes that say they serve four, but that’s only if it’s part of a 5-course meal. My husband and I often joke that the reason we don’t have kids is because there wouldn’t be enough food for them. We cook a huge meal and eat it all :) I guess what I’m trying to say is that this socca is cut down the middle–half for Audun and half for me. If you’re more generous with your kids or guests, kudos to you!
I’m hungry. Onto the socca!
1 cup chickpea flour
1 cup water
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (the good stuff please!)
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp chopped chives (or other herb, optional)
2-4 asparagus stalks, sliced in thin rounds (or other spring veggie, optional)
Start by making the batter. Whisk together the chickpea flour, water, oil, and salt until no clumps remain. Cover and set aside to rest for 2 hours or so (or use immediately at your own risk!).
Preheat the oven to 450°F. Place your pan of choice (I use a metal cake pan but see the options earlier in the post) in the oven while it comes to temperature.
Add the chives and asparagus (or variations, if using) to the batter and give it a quick stir. Grease the pan with additional oil or cooking spray. Add the batter to the pan and return to the oven for 15 minutes. Then turn your oven to broil and leave for just a few minutes for a delightfully crispy (and potentially freckled) top.
Remove the socca with a spatula, cut in half, and eat with the good olive oil you’ve been using. Or French butter. Everything is better with French butter.
Totally optional: Cut into wedges and share.
Either way there won’t be leftovers.