Socca, a crêpe made of chickpea flour, is the street food of southern France. Baked in wood-burning ovens on a copper disc, it’s rolled and wrapped in parchment paper to be eaten in shreds off napkins that blot up the peppery olive oil.
Socca is not something the French make at home. It’s what you eat after a day on the beach in the lingering sun as you lick your lips, salty from swimming, and sip a crisp, frosty rosé.
I lived off socca one summer as a student bumming my way through the Mediterranean countryside where the socca is cheap, delicious and satisfying. The recent surging temperatures here sparked memories of my footloose days in Nice, so I decided to try making socca at home.
Now, I won’t promise this recipe replicates the real thing. Purists will tell you that homemade socca is akin to making s’mores in an oven. But this chickpea crêpe is a fine canvas for garden-fresh herbs, sautéed vegetables or shredded cheese. Serve it plain for an appetizer; top it off for a light meal.
Socca dates back to the mid-1800s, when it was sold in markets and work sites in southern France for a morning treat. The sellers pushed along special wagons with charcoal warming ovens, crying out “Socca! Socca! Socca!”
The batter couldn’t be simpler — just three ingredients — chickpea flour, water and oil. The addition of chopped fresh herbs or cumin adds a nice, traditional touch. Once it’s whisked together, it needs a little time to rest before using.
Chickpea flour — aka garbanzo bean flour, gram flour, chickpea powder and cici bean flour — is popular in Middle Eastern and Indian cooking and baking, and used in dishes like falafel, farinata and papadums. Gluten-free, high in protein and low in carbohydrates, it’s ground from dried chickpeas. This bean’s slightly sweet flavor and creamy texture makes a soft, moist flour. Bob’s Red Mill garbanzo bean flour is widely available in supermarkets and natural food co-ops. You can also find other brands online.
Socca doesn’t store well, so eat it as soon as it’s made, drizzled with olive oil, a sprinkle of coarse salt and chopped fresh herbs. Or top it with roasted peppers, shredded mild cheeses, caramelized onions or a fried egg. But please don’t forget that frosty glass of rosé.
Beth Dooley is the author of “In Winter’s Kitchen.” Find her at bethdooleyskitchen.com.