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Socca Chickpea Flatbread

Socca Chickpea Flatbread

Most dinners in my house are cooked on the fly, started when the kids and I are tired and ravenous and wish that dinner was already on the table. I try my best given the tiny time frame, cost, and what all of us will actually enjoy eating, to create a good balance of veggies, protein and grains in our meals. It's so easy to end up with a huge pile of rice, pasta or potatoes in our bowls, tasty, but not great for our waistlines (or my hereditary high cholesterol). So, I'm grateful when I discover a new ingredient or recipe that I would happily chow down on and helps to balance out all the starchy stuff. Enter: chickpea flour.

For many years I have been enjoying delicious snacks from our local Indian Market, Bharat Bazaar, all made from Chickpea flour (gram flour). Chickpea flour is high in protein, gluten free and tastes good. I started buying it to use in my vegetable pancakes, but hadn't really found a great use for it in other recipes. When luck sent this socca flatbread recipe flying across my computer screen a few years ago, I knew I would love it, and this simple recipe didn't disappoint. Chickpea flour, caramelized onions, olive oil and rosemary, how could it be bad?! Usually I try a recipe, modify it and make it my own, but this one is perfect as is, so I'll share it as I found it. 

Check out this interesting bit about the history of socca in France. It doesn't go back quite far enough to tell us if the chickpea (in France from at least the 1500's) was originally imported from India, or another country, or if it's native to France, but apparently socca, made as a crisp crepe has been a popular street food in the south of France, and in parts of Italy since the 1920's. While it's a fairly new to our diet on this side of the Atlantic, it's delicious and versatile so a welcome addition! 

Socca - chickpea flour flatbread
As printed in the New York Times - recipe by Mark Bittman

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup chickpea flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 to 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ large onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary

Preparation:

  1. Heat the oven to 450. Put a well-seasoned or nonstick 12-inch pizza pan or cast-iron skillet in oven. (If you have a socca pan, obviously that will work well also.)

  2. Put the chickpea flour in a bowl; add the salt and pepper. Slowly add 1 cup lukewarm water, whisking to eliminate lumps. Stir in 2 tablespoons olive oil. Cover and let sit while the oven heats, or for as long as 12 hours. The batter should be about the consistency of heavy cream.
  3. Remove the pan, pour 2 tablespoons of the oil into it and swirl. Add the onions return the pan to the oven and cook, stirring once or twice, until they’re well browned, 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in the rosemary. Stir the onions and rosemary into the batter, then immediately pour the batter into the pan. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the pancake is firm and the edges set.
  4. Heat the broiler and brush the top of the pancake with 1 or 2 tablespoons of oil if it looks dry. Set the pancake a few inches away from the broiler, and cook just long enough to brown it in spots. Cut it into wedges, and serve hot or warm.
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