I love these. Pretty much anything with chickpea flour is going to be a winner with me. And we’re throwing greens on top? Heck yeah! In Provence, these simple, thin flatbreads are called socca. Just over the border in Liguria, they are called farinata. You can make small socca like I do for this recipe, or you can make large pieces that you slice up for sharing. On their own, socca are relatively simple in flavor, and given that, the addition of any herbs or spices really stands out. In this case, just a few grinds of black pepper are easy to notice, as is the chickpea flavor and the little bit of tumeric. All the flavors get to shine in this dish.
Making the socca is a breeze. Chickpea (a.k.a. garbanzo) flour, olive oil, water, tumeric, salt & pepper. Whisk. Make in a skillet like pancakes. You’re done. You just made socca. You can walk around all day bragging to your cats that you made socca. The original recipe instructs you to make each piece in an 8-inch pan. This will ensure nearly perfect circles, 5 of them. I wanted smaller pieces, so I poured out the batter freestyle, two at a time, in my 10-inch skillet. They weren’t perfect circles, but the little fingers sticking out made for lovely, imperfect pieces.
The greens are simple enough, too, and the flavor combination of cumin and allspice come together so well! Allspice. We talked about that back in the tomato soup recipe. That little spice boss is truly underutilized here in the states. As far as the chard goes, I always go for rainbow because I like the way it looks. The pinks, yellows, oranges, and other colors in between look like the spring that’s supposedly coming any second now. The other day, out of sheer curiosity, I tried this recipe out with plain green and white chard, and I thought the flavor lacked the tiny bit of sweetness I’m used to with the rainbow chard. Was it all in my head? I don’t think so, so if you’re asking what I’d advise, I say go rainbow!
If you take a bite of the socca without the greens and feel underwhelmed, don’t worry! I happen to love earthy, simple flavors (think beets, grainy brown breads), but if you don’t, please trust me when I tell you that the chard topping is an excellent flavor match for the socca. They go together deliciously. Have you seen those tee shirts or greeting cards that say things like, “You’re the dill to my pickle…the mac to my cheese,” etc.? Well, these flavors go together so well, there should be a tee that says, “You’re the chard to my socca.”
Socca with sauteed rainbow chard
Adapted from Socca with swiss chard, pistachios, and apricots from Vegan for Everybody from America’s Test Kitchen
1 1/2 cups (6.75 ounces) chickpea flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon tumeric
1 1/2 cups warm water
3 tablespoons plus extra for frying
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
salt & pepper
1.4 teaspoon allspice
12 ounces rainbow chard (or other chard), stemmed and chopped
1 teaspoon white wine vinegar (plain white vinegar is fine to substitute)
Heat oven to 200°. Place a wire rack on a baking sheet and set it inside.
Whisk together dry ingredients: flour, salt, pepper, tumeric. Make a well in the center of the mixture and pour in the warm water and 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Whisk until all ingredients are smoothly incorporated. There may a few lumps you have to work out with a fork.
If using an 8-inch nonstick pan, heat a couple teaspoons of oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Pour 1/2 cup of batter onto the pan and tilt the pan around to evenly coat the bottom. Lower heat to medium and cook until golden brown with crispy edges (about 3-5 minutes). Flip the socca and cook until the second side is golden brown (about 2-3 minutes). I found the browning definitely takes some pressure from the spatula to make it happen.
If you plan to make smaller (and more) socca, use a bigger pan and cover the bottom with oil. I used a 10-inch cast iron pan and a little over a tablespoon of oil to start. About 1/3 cup of batter worked well for me when poured slowly. You won’t get a perfect circle, but careful pouring can make it come close. I managed to get 2-3 in my pan depending on my pours. The same timing and flipping as described above worked. Really, you’re just making a crispy chickpea pancake. You can do it!
As socca are done, place them in your warm oven on the wire rack. Keep repeating the process above until you’re out of batter.
For the chard topping
Heat oil in a large skillet (I jammed everything into a 10-inch; 12 would be easier if you have it). Add the onion and cook until softened.
Once the onions are ready, add the garlic, cumin, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and allspice. Stir and cook until fragrant, about 30-45 seconds.
Add the chard and cook until wilted, about 4-6 minutes. If you’re using a smaller pan like I did, you can do this in two additions.
Off heat, mix in the vinegar and season with salt and pepper to taste. I sometimes end up adding more cumin and allspice. There is no rhyme or reason to when I do and don’t. Sometimes I want more, sometimes I don’t. Flavor it as you like it, but add any extras sparingly and taste after each new addition! Have you ever over salted or over seasoned at the very end? I have. It’s the worst.
Now…top each socca with your chard mixture and serve! Slicing optional, but I love to just pick it up with my hands and get a little messy. Bon appétit and buon appetito!