Socca (sometimes called Farinata) originates from Italy and is likened to a savoury pancake. The basic ingredients are a gram flour (which is made from ground up chickpeas) water and a splash of olive oil, making it both gluten free and vegan friendly, it can be eaten by pretty much everyone - hooray! It’s rather delicious and with such simple ingredients it’s the perfect starting point to create a whole range of flavours.
Here I’ve come up with a very Halloween appropriate, spooky dark red version using one of my favourite autumn vegetables, beetroot. The earthiness of the beetroot and chickpeas goes beautifully with the sharper freshness of the dill and lemon zest.
Socca would be delicious topped with poached egg and avocado for a fancy brunch (or any other mealtime if you’re not an aspiring yoga mum). Alternatively, with some sautéed spinach or kale and a crumble of feta cheese, or keep things simple and use them as a filling for sandwiches and wraps to give your packed lunches a creepy Halloween makeover.
Makes about 8-10 little pancakes (serves 2)
100g gram (chickpea) flour|
1/2 tsp salt
a good pinch black pepper
a few sprigs fresh dill, finely chopped
finely grated zest of 1/2 a lemon
1 large raw beetroot (roughly 200g)
4 tbsp olive oil
Start by making the socca batter. In a large bowl whisk together the gram (chickpea) flour, salt and pepper, lemon zest and chopped dill. Then gradually add the water followed by two tablespoons of the olive oil, whisking thoroughly until you have a smooth, fairly runny mixture. Next prepare the beetroot by cutting off any undesirable parts, you can peel them if you want to but it’s not necessary. Coarsely grate the beetroot and stir into the batter until evenly combined.
Now you're ready to cook the socca. Place a large frying pan over a medium high heat on the hob, add about a tablespoon olive oil. Once the oil is hot, take a heaped tablespoon of the mixture and drop it into the pan, spreading it with the back of a spoon until it’s in an even layer about half a centimetre thick and the size of those little american pancakes. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes on the first side, until tiny bubbles are appearing on the surface and the underside is crisp and starting to brown in places. Flip with a spatula and repeat on the second side. You can cook them a few at a time but try not to overcrowd the pan.
I would recommend doing a trial run first - it just seems to be a thing that the first pancake in a batch is always a bit ugly but it’ll still taste good!
Once you’ve cooked a few, keep them warm on a baking tray in the oven on a low heat while you cook the next batch, adding a little more oil to grease the pan if needed. You should end up with about 8-10 little cakes. And then you're ready to serve! Top with roasted vegetables, your favourite cheese, a fried egg... anything your heart desires. Any leftover socca can be wrapped in cling film and kept in the fridge for a few days, simply reheated on a baking tray in the oven on a low heat or eaten cold as part of a packed lunch or for a suitably scary late-night snack. Happy Halloween, and happy eating!