A simple flatbread made with simple ingredients but with a toasted garlic twist.
One of our family’s favorite quick sides is socca, a simple chickpea (garbanzo bean) flour flatbread (or is it a pancake?) that can be as simple as just the flour, water, and salt. Cooked in a hot oven or griddle in a well-oiled pan, socca has a unique flavor and crunchy edges that we all crave.
It’s also one of the easiest and fastest dishes to make, and you can adorn it with countless toppings.
A long history
While the origin of this pancake is long lost, it has a history in both France and Italy, with dozens of cooking methods and ingredient variations. Whatever its ancestry, it is a simple and rustic dish, peasant food at its best, often cooked unapologetically with lots of olive oil, its crispy edges, almost to the burnt, a delight. But you don’t have to travel to the south of France to enjoy this dish, it is a breeze for the home cook!
Just a few additions
I usually add finely minced garlic to my batter, and often some herbs as well: basil, rosemary, or chives are my favorites. Sometimes I sprinkle on a little Parmesan, sometimes not, but I’ll often add a little topping. Caramelized onions are great.
Naturally gluten free, high in protein, and if you omit the cheese, it is vegan as well.
A little twist
In this version, I’ve toasted the garlic slices in olive oil and used that same oil to bake the cake. It adds more of that lovely toasted garlic flavor to the pancake.
I stripped my last cherry tomato plant today and have a huge bowl of these colorful fruits that will be used in the next few days or frozen for soups later in the year. In they went!
Socca with Toasted Garlic and Cherry Tomatoes
- 1 cup water
- ¾ cup chickpea flour
- Pinch of salt
- 5 cloves of garlic, divided
- 1 tsp. each basil and parsley, minced
- ¼ cup fruity olive oil
- 10 or 12 cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1-ounce Parmesan cheese, grated
- Basil to garnish
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. For this dish, I used an oval cast iron baking dish, but you can use any heavy bottomed baking pan, roughly 8” X 10”. Place this in the oven while it heats; you’ll want the pan piping hot.
In a medium bowl, combine the water, flour, salt, two crushed garlic cloves, and the herbs. Set aside for half hour, longer is fine. The batter will be thin.
While the batter is resting, warm the olive oil over medium heat and slice up the remaining three garlic cloves. Add them to the hot oil, and keeping a close watch on them, toast until they are a medium brown and smell fragrant. This happens fast, so don’t let them go too far or they will be bitter. Immediately remove the pan from the heat and scoop out the garlic to stop it from cooking.
Once the oven and baking dish are hot, remove the pan, pour two tablespoons of the garlic oil in it, and immediately pour in the batter. It will start to sizzle around the edges.
Dot the top with the tomatoes and sprinkle with the cheese.
Bake for 25 minutes or so, until the edges are crispy and the cake is set.
Remove from oven and sprinkle with torn basil leaves, the toasted garlic, and a little more of the flavored oil if you like. Cut into six wedges and eat while it’s nice and hot!
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