Although I would have been happy to spend every weekend of my time in Paris exploring its various arrondissements, I had pre-purchased one of those rail passes, which put a variety of amazing European cities within reach for long weekend getaways.
I already knew I’d be visiting Florence (to see friends) and Barcelona (more friends), but I had a harder time deciding on a third destination. Amsterdam was almost the winner, but the thought of warm, early fall weather and swimming in the Mediterranean pushed Nice into the top spot.
These were the days before there were so many great travel sites and forums, which now allow us to easily compile a list of must-have food items and the best places to get them. So I know I missed out on a lot of gems and regional food specialties. In Nice? One of the gems I missed was socca.
There aren’t too many baked goods in France that are naturally gluten-free (although according to David, there are some gluten-free bakeries and restaurants opening up in Paris, like this one and this one), but socca is certainly an exception in the sea of glutenous baguettes, croissants and tartes.
Socca is made from a batter of chickpea flour (if you have a Vita-mix you can just grind some chickpeas/garbanzo beans into flour, otherwise a health food store will likely stock it), olive oil, salt and water that’s cooked into thick crêpe-like pancakes. Drizzled with a bit of olive oil and crunchy sea salt, it’s a classic street food from Nice.
And I love these little reminders now and again that gluten-free foods, and breads in particular, don’t have to be overly complicated or require funny ingredients like xanthan gum. It makes a great snack and was great as a side to some soup.
Socca- Chickpea Flour Crêpes with Olive Oil and Sea Salt
Yield: 3-4 servings
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 15 minutes
* 1 cup chickpea (or garbanzo bean) flour
* 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt, plus extra for serving
* 1 Tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for cooking and serving
In a medium bowl combine the chickpea flour, 1 teaspoon of salt and 1 Tablespoon of olive oil. Add just enough water to make a smooth batter that's just slightly thicker than a classic pancake (not crêpe) batter.
Heat a thin layer of olive oil in a medium frying pan over medium-high heat. Ladle in approximately 1/3 cup of batter and swirl the pan to evenly coat the bottom with the batter. Cook until the edges are firm and small bubbles have appeared in the surface and then flip using a spatula. Cook until the bottom is golden brown. Transfer to a platter and repeat with the remaining batter.
Cut the crêpes into wedges and drizzle with olive oil and some kosher or sea salt.
Adapted from The Essentials of French Cooking