Socca is the French word for it, it is a specialty around Nice, across the border in Italy too, but there it is called farinata. As a tasty snack or starter it’s simple, quick, and nutritious. It’s also completely gluten free. Simple and made from simple things it is an ideal quick meal after Christmas when one needs no more rich food, but wants something tasty and special.
Socca is a breadless ‘flatbread’ of chickpea flour (gram flour from an Indian shop works nicely) and water with a little oil cooked in a cast iron pan. (You could use another ovenproof pan, but cast iron is great because of its heat retention.) Socca has many variants, two I love add: rosemary and onions (chopped fine and mixed into the batter prior to cooking), or some chopped fennel seeds.
Mix equal parts (one cup of each will feed two for a light lunch) chickpea flour (gram flour) and water for a not too thin or too stiff batter, add two tablespoons of oil, a little salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper. (At least as much pepper as salt, but probably more. Be brave and you will find even pepper-shy people like it! Be brave, socca is a simple dish for culinary extremists as I’ll explain again below.)
When the batter is mixed, let it rest. Half an hour is great, but at least while you warm the oven and pan. Heat the oven to at least 230⁰C on grill setting and put the pan on the hob to get it smoking. This is another place to be extremist, get the pan and the grill as hot as you can, the extra crispness of the crust will repay your extremism!
Place two tablespoons of oil in the pan and tip to coat. Pour in the batter and place in the oven (probably 4-5 mins depending on the thickness of the bread and just how hot your pan and grill will go).
You could eat it with olives and small tomatoes for a healthy snack or starter. Ideal when chatting with friends.
Actually socca, like soccer, is not immune to national rivalry. The Italians call it ‘farinata’. But the name doesn’t change the taste. So, I’m content to credit both the nice people from Nice and the generous people from Genoa!
Recipe for socca
One frying pan size, serves two as a light lunch or four as a snack.
- 1 cup chickpea/gram flour
- 1 cup water
- 1 tsp fresh ground pepper
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- diced onions or rosemary if you want more flavours
Mix and leave to stand. Pour into a frying pan as hot as you can, with a little oil round the base. Place under the grill, again as hot as you can. Ready when the top is nicely browning.