Posted by: A Part of the Solution | June 2, 2010

Socca are so tasty

I worked as a vegan chef for about a dozen years. I enjoyed the challenge of finding ways to duplicate or replace certain key ingredients without using anything derived from the animal kingdom (the eggs in brownies, the butter in danish, the beef in carbonnade &tc). Along the way I became a big fan of a few ingredients which often aren’t familiar to more ‘mainstream’ cooks, though they’re not difficult to obtain.

Ground flaxseed meal, when blended with a little water, does practically everything our friend the egg does. Powdered wheat gluten turns into homemade seitan with incredible flavor. Tofu and miso are still go-tos for an entire range of solutions. And then there’s chickpea flour (aka garbanzo bean flour or besan).

Besan can be cooked up just like polenta. But it’s higher protein content gives it a ‘richer’ mouth-feel. I used it in highly-flavored mini-tartlets (a staple of catering appetizers) where it acted like a rich paté base. I used it between sheets of fillo dough with sweeteners to make a variant of the dairy-rich greek dessert galaktibourikos (galakti = milk, so I called mine ‘antigalaktibourikos’). Both of those uses of besan are fairly labor intensive. But when you’re working with enormous batches, it’s not too much trouble.

However, for down-and-dirty eats that are fast, vegan AND gluten free, I love besan in socca. Socca are crispy, crepey flatbready things eaten most of the way around the Mediterranean as street food. They’re fried up fresh on the spot, sliced and munched right there. Some cultures make them thicker or larger, or with lots of additional ingredients. For simplicity, I like the Monegasque version best. And it makes rockin’ crepes, ready to fill with any savory veggy combo you might throw together.

Socca

2 c. besan

2 1/4 c. water

3 TBSP olive oil

2 tsp salt

Blend these four ingredients in a food processor or blender. Get a griddle or large frying pan hot, brush it with oil and pour a quarter cup of the socca batter on it in a rough circle. Wait until the center of the socca is dry in appearance, and the rest of the surface is covered with tiny bubbles. Flip it and give it another couple of minutes on the other side. Repeat.

Sauteed mushrooms and leeks with minced parsley.

Sauteed summer squash and onion with basil micro-greens.

Julienned carrots sauteed with garlic and finished with tarragon.

Thin sliced tomatoes and cucumbers, lightly salted and drained.

You get the picture. Now get cooking!

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Responses

  1. This sounds so delicious! I’ve been in a cooking rut lately, but this will help break me out of it. Yum!

    • Not just tasty, but so simple. Keep the besan in the fridge (or freezer). It will go off if you don’t use it quickly. Bob’s Red Mill makes a nice one–Park Slope should have it, or they can get it.

  2. I like the Italian version that has rosemary mixed in and LOTS of olive oil.

    • Cool. The subcontinental asians do a thick version, with all kind of spices and veggies in–good but kind of a hassle.


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