My cousin was coming over for dinner, and I was trying to figure out what I wanted to make for her- she's a foodie like me, so I wanted to essentially use her as a guinea pig to try out a new recipe I hadn't made before...*mischievous laugh*
I knew the farmer's market was on my commute the day before (not that I need another excuse to go), so I wanted something that I could use as many seasonal vegetables on as possible- because, 'tis the season. I settled on socca, which I have had bookmarked on my cooking bucket list for some time.
Socca is kind of a dough you make out of chickpeas. It's traditionally Italian, coming from Ligurian roots (Genoa), and is sometimes called Farinata. A lot of people avoiding gluten will use this as a sort of pizza-dough stand in- it definitely serves a similar purpose of being a base for toppings, but it is softer so you need to use a fork and knife to eat it.
This was my first time using chickpea flour- I had heard it can taste a little too "bean-y," but that freshly ground chickpea flour usually eliminated that issue. I freshly ground mine in under a minute (thank you, trusty Nutribullet!), and I didn't think that it was bean-y at all- although, I like beans so that wouldn't have been an issue.
As for nutritional content: with the chickpea content (2/3 cup raw uncooked) in this whole socca, it contains 26g protein, 80g carb (23g of fiber), 8g fat. Let's say two people eat it (which my cousin and I did), you'd get 13g protein, 40g carb (11.5g fiber), 4g fat. Chickpeas are known for being high in fiber, and this provides about half of your daily recommendation of fiber. A serving also has about as much potassium as a small banana. Much is said about the protein content of chickpeas, particularly for non-meat eaters, but it's honestly not that amazing of a protein source considering the ratio of carbs that come with it.
After deciding on socca, I perused the farmer's market for toppings to put on there. While I was there, I saw squash blossoms, which I had for the first time last year during my birthday dinner at one of my all-time favorite restaurants, Jean-Georges' ABC Kitchen. I had the squash blossom pizza, and it was one of the most delicious things I've ever had- the squash blossom leaves are tender when cooked (like squash) and are just so gorgeous to look at.
I drew inspiration from there, and made it into a squash pizza affair- convenient too that I had some grated parmesan reggiano left over from making my basil pesto (recipe coming soon for that!), then I decided to throw the pesto and random leftover veggies I had onto there too. It might also be the prettiest spread of veggies I've had all together- upcycling for the win, yet again!
This ended up being one of my favorite meals I've made to date. Whenever you use seasonal produce, you really don't need fancy seasoning or anything at all. The flavors shine out all on their own. The socca was also a hit! We were nibbling at every last crumb.
Seasonal Socca Skillet
*recipe makes enough to fit in a 10" cast iron skillet
1 cup Chickpea (Garbanzo Bean) Flour
*instructions below for freshly ground-
2/3 cup dried uncooked chickpeas= ~1 cup flour
1 cup Water
1/4 cup EVOO
1 clove Garlic
1/4 tsp Sea Salt
*you can really use anything you want, but here's what I used:
1/3 cup shredded cheese (I used asiago)
5 pieces of Mozzerella Ciliegine
Sprinkle of grated Parmesan Reggiano
4 Squash Blossoms' leaves
1 small Zucchini, peeled/ribboned w/julienne slicer
1-2 Heirloom Tomatoes, sliced
1 small Spring Onion, sliced
2 Fairytale mini Eggplants
2 tbsp Basil Pesto
Basil leaves and Microgreens to garnish
Special tools needed:
10-in cast iron skillet
*if using store-bought chickpea flour, skip to step 2. Also, reserve an hour to let "batter" stand before you plan to start cooking!
1. Place dry, uncooked chickpeas in a high-speed blender and blend until consistency is a finely ground consistency and evenly fluffy. Sift with a fine-mesh strainer to eliminate any rogue chunks.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk chickpea flour, water, 2 tbsp of the EVOO, salt, and garlic together until smooth. Cover loosely and let "batter" rest for 1 hour.
*While you're waiting for the batter to thicken, this would be a good time to chop/prep whatever veggies you plan to throw on the socca!
3. Turn on your oven's broiler and set the rack about 6-8 inches away from the top, then place your cast-iron skillet inside to pre-heat for a few minutes.
4. Remove skillet from oven, and add 1 tbsp of the EVOO in the pan to evenly coat the surface. Pour the batter into skillet, and put it in the oven for 6-8 minutes or until sides begin to brown/pull away from the edges and socca starts to set.
5. Remove skillet from the oven. Turn off the broiler and switch the oven on to 425ºF.
6. Evenly spread remaining tablespoon of EVOO on the surface of socca. Spread vegetable toppings on top of the socca.
7. Return skillet to oven for 8-10 minutes or further if you want a crispier consistency.
8. Remove from oven, let cool for a few minutes, then serve.