Very Nice Chickpea Crepes (Socca)
Makes 4 to 5 crepes
American chef in Paris David Lebovitz, while not vegan knows his socca; socca is a simple pan roasted chickpea crepe, a Southern French speciality that’s effortless vegan and delightful as a snack, a specialty in Nice and typically served with a crisp glass of rosé wine. Socca is typically not filled like a crepe, but sometimes studded with onions or other goodies and enjoyed sliced into wedges or squares and nibbled on while hot. A friend of mine commented socca is a little like hummus in cracker form, and if this isn’t enough reason to win your vegan affections then I don’t know what is.
This recipe is an adaptation of his recipe which I love: it’s simple, delicate and delicious solo with a sprinkle of sea salt, olive oil and a twist of black pepper. Or enliven it with onions, olive, slivers of sundried tomatoes.
Tip: While socca is often plainly seasoned, a dash of Herbs de Provence dried herb blend is an elegant addition. Look for these Provence-style herb blends that often feature thyme, marjoram, rosemary and even lavender among many other herbs.
A super hot oven makes good socca, but a preheated broiler makes even better socca. If you prefer, preheat the oven broiler on high for at least 5 minutes to get really hot. Place the pan with socca batter directly under the broiler flame and watching carefully, broil each socca for 2 to 2 1/2 minutes. Take note on exactly how long it takes to bake the socca all the way through with slightly charred, crisp edges. Cooking socca this way is super fast, but don’t even think about taking a break and wandering away from the stove until the last socca is finished baking!
- 1 cup chickpea flour
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons of water
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon dried each thyme, marjoram and rosemary or 1 tablespoon of any Herbes de Provence blend
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- Olive oil for brushing the pan
- Sea salt and freshly cracked pepper
1. Pulse in a blender the chickpea flour, water, olive oil, ground cumin, dried thyme or marjoram and sea salt to form a thin batter. Pour into a container, cover and let stand at room temperature for an hour.
2. When ready to prepare, move a cooking rack to the top section of the oven and preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Place an ungreased 10 to 12 inch cast iron pan in the top part of the oven to preheat it inside the oven. When the oven has reached 475 degrees (about 20 minutes for an average home oven, but use a theometer just in case), stir the batter, remove the pan and brush generously with olive oil. Pour about 1/4 cup of batter in the pan and swirl to coat the bottom with a thin layer of batter. Use more batter for the next crepe if it doesn’t quite cover the pan, and stir the batter before pouring each crepe.
3. Bake the socca for 3 to 4 minutes on the top rack of the oven. The socca is done when dry on the edges and with dark browned spots on the edges and top. Watch carefully and take note how long it takes your oven to perfectly bake a crepe. Remove from the oven immediately and use a bent metal spatula to gently pry the socca from the pan. Slide the socca onto a cutting board and prepare and bake socca immediately.
4. To serve, slice the socca into wedges. Drizzle with a teaspoon of olive oil, sprinkle with salt and a twist of black pepper. Serve hot, making fresh socca while nibbling on the previous batch.
Peel 1 small red onion and slice into rounds as thin as possible, 1/8th of an inch or less. Scatter a few slices of onion on top of the socca before baking.
Tomato, Olive and Garlic Socca:
Stir 2 tablespoons of diced, pitted Kalamata olives, sundried tomatoes and 2 cloves minced garlic into the socca batter. Stir each time before ladling into the pan.
Chickpea flour crepes are equally at home in Indian cuisine. Stir in one or more of the following into the batter: 1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin, coriander, garam masala or curry powder. Scatter a tablespoon of chopped cilantro on each socca.