Socca, farinata, cecina — whatever you call it, a savory chickpea pancake is a great back-pocket recipe for entertaining. Popular along the Côte d'Azur in France and Ligurian Coast in Italy, this flatbread may be enjoyed in its simplest form of nutty chickpea flour, water and olive oil, or you can liven it up with herbs, spices and other ingredients. In this recipe the socca is studded with olives, rosemary, preserved lemon and plenty of good salt and pepper. I like to serve it as an hors d'oeuvre or a light meal with a salad. Bonus: it's naturally gluten-free and vegan!
If you don't have homemade preserved lemons, you can find them at Middle Eastern markets and specialty food stores like Sur La Table and Williams-Sonoma. Look for the chickpea or garbanzo bean flour at Indian and Middle Eastern markets, natural foods stores or grocery stores with a good gluten-free flour selection (Bob's Red Mill is a common brand).
Socca with Olives, Rosemary and Preserved Lemon
Makes 1 (10-inch) flatbread
1 cup chickpea flour
1 cup water
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
5 oil-cured black olives, pitted and quartered
1 tablespoon finely chopped preserved lemon rind (see Recipe Notes)
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary leaves
Flaky sea salt
Coarsely ground black pepper
Whisk together the chickpea flour, water and 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil. Let stand for at least 30 minutes. (Can leave overnight at cool room temperature or in the refrigerator.)
Preheat the oven to 450°F.
Place a 10-inch cast iron skillet or equivalent baking dish in the oven for 5 minutes. Remove the skillet from the oven, add a tablespoon of olive oil and swirl to coat the bottom. Give the chickpea batter a whisk and pour it into the skillet.
Working quickly, sprinkle the olives, lemon, garlic and rosemary on top and return the skillet to the oven. Bake until the socca is cooked in the middle (yet still tender) and crispy around the edges, about 20 minutes. Halfway through baking, brush the top of the socca with a little olive oil.
Remove the pan from the oven. Brush the socca with a little more olive oil and sprinkle a generous amount of salt and pepper on top. Use a spatula to lift the socca from the pan. Cut it into wedges or squares and serve immediately.
• To prepare the preserved lemon, rinse it to remove excess salt and scrape away any pulp (you only want the rind). Pat it dry and proceed with chopping.