When Max was in kindergarten and Una was just starting to walk, we went backpacking in Europe. We flew into Rome, out of Dublin, and took buses and trains in between. It was on that trip that I discovered both farinata and socca.
I think there is a certain amount of confusion about the differences between farinata and socca, mostly because they are both made with chickpea flour. However, they are not the same thing.
Farinata was on the menu at a pizzeria in Torino. The tourist-friendly English translation described it as “chickpea gruel” and it came with a variety of toppings. It wasn’t the name that caused me to order it as much as the novelty of trying something new.
I was served a thick, soft flatbread baked in a deep-dish pizza pan. I had ordered the butternut squash and blue cheese farinata, and it was absolutely delicious. If you’re keen to try it, check out the recipe on my foodie focused blog.
I bought socca from a food truck at a not-very-posh flee market in Montematre, Paris. Most of the other stalls were selling cheap and overly cheerful clothes and toys. As pretty much the only tourists there, we were able to get a good deal on some Paris kitsch: fridge magnets, keychains and a 4″ tall cast metal model of the Eiffel Tower.
However, a recipe for socca was definitely the BEST thing we brought home with us. I first made it in the tiny kitchenette of our Parisian apartment, and it has been a favourite ever since.
Socca is not the same as farinata. It is, in fact, a grain-free crepe from the South of France. Like all crepes, it can be served with savoury or sweet fillings. However, it is also delicious hot and fresh without any filling at all.
The trick to making delicious socca is to let the batter soak. It takes a while for chickpea flour to fully hydrate, which is necessary for a nice smooth batter.
I usually mix up socca batter in the morning and leave it in the fridge until dinner. It’s a pretty quick dinner and takes less than 30 minutes to cook the crepes and prepare the fillings.
I admit that the traditional recipe doesn’t involve an egg, however, it really makes it easier to flip the crepes. If you want to make a vegan socca, then replace the egg with an additional 1/4 cup of water. Not only will it be egg-free, it will also be traditional!
- 1 cup chickpea flour
- 1 cup of water
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 egg
- 3/4 tsp salt
- 1 tbsp minced rosemary
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- Mix all of the ingredients together. Beat it well to whisk the egg and break up any clumps of flour. It is quite a thin batter.
- Leave the batter to sit in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or up to 24 hours.
- Heat a cast-iron griddle on medium.
- Lightly season with olive oil, then pour on a 1/4 cup of batter.
- Cook for 2-3 minutes, until the middle is firm. Flip the crepe and cook for one more minute.
- Either serve immediately or set the crepes off to the side to fill and reheat for serving all at once. See the bottom section for more serving details.
Socca can be filled with pretty much anything your heart desires. Una likes hers with melted cheese and slices of fresh tomato. Max loves anything with brie. And Brad likes sauteed mushrooms and crumbled goat cheese.
I chose to write this recipe with braised greens because it is pretty much the only food that is inspiringly fresh this time of year.
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 3 cups of fresh greens (kale, spinach, chard, leeks)
- A pinch of salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Wash and trim the greens. Rip them up into bite-sized pieces.
- Dice the garlic.
- Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large frying pan.
- Gently saute the garlic for 1 minute, then add in the greens.
- Add a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Saute for 2 minutes, tossing to ensure even cooking, then turn off the heat. You only want to just wilt the greens, so you don’t need to cook them for very long.
Either serve the socca individually or set them aside for reheating. Here’s how you can easily reheat all of the socca at once:
- As you cook each crepe place it on a cookie sheet and fill it with a few tablespoons of wilted greens and a slice of Emmental.
- When all the crepes are finished, pop the cookie sheet in the oven and broil on low for a few minutes. They will all come out nicely warmed at the same time.