Chives and asparagus are among our earliest sprouts here in New England, dancing together nicely at this time of year!
This is the season of lilacs in our village, and what a year it is! There isn’t a street where one does not inhale this incredible scent of spring, and their luscious color as well. In another week, it will rain petals, so fleeting a season. The chive blossoms are also lending their lavender tones to the landscape, and freshly snipped chives appear in many of my recipes.
With last weekend’s heat, the asparagus is now coming fast and furious, and we’re using these tender spears in just about everything as well – soups, salads, stir-fries, and by its own grilled, roasted, and steamed.
Simple, but unique flavor
One of our favorite quick lunches is a simple chickpea flatbread, socca, which has just a few ingredients and infinite possibilities. While I love this little pancake with just a bit of garlic and maybe a few herbs, it is also delicious decorated with whatever is in season, or in season in your refrigerator.
From street food to home kitchen
This unique, chickpea pancake, crunchy on the outside and creamy on the inside, hails from the south of France, a rustic Niçoise street food. Made simply with chickpea (garbanzo bean) flour, water, and olive oil, there are also versions of this dish in Italy.
The bread is done when the edges are nice and crisp (the best part) but still a bit creamy in the center. It is perfect in its simplicity, but that doesn’t mean street vendors and home cooks alike haven’t added their own twists along the way, so think about what you’d like to create, whatever you season.
Chickpea flatbread with Asparagus and Chives
- Scant cup chick peaflour
- 1 cup water
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tbsp. fresh snipped chives, minced
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tbsp. fruity olive oil
- 16 spears of asparagus
- 2 tbsp. Parmesan or vegan Parmesan, grated
Whisk together well the chickpea flour and water. Mince the garlic cloves and add to the bowl along with the chives, and set everything aside for a half
Heat the oven to 450 degrees F. and place a 10-inch iron frying pan or other heavy frying pan on a lower rack.
Meanwhile, steam or boil the asparagus for a couple of minutes, just until starting to soften, and rinse under cold water to set the color. Trim the spears to fit into the pan like spokes on a wheel.
Once the batter has rested and the frying pan screaming hot, remove the pan from the oven, drizzle in the olive oil, and add the batter immediately. It will sizzle and start to set on the edges. Return to the oven and set the timer for five minutes.
Remove the pan from the oven; the batter should be set. Sprinkle with the cheese and place the spears in spokes around the pan. Gently press in, and return the pan to the oven.
Continue baking for 20 minutes, or until the center is set and the edges crispy and browned.
Remove from the oven and let sit for five minutes, then, using your largest spatula, gently loosen the bread out onto a cutting board. Garnish with edible spring flowers if you have them, why not? Wait another five minutes, then slice into desired portions.
If you have a bounty, gather the lilac blossoms and make Lilac Syrup! Recipe here!
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