My love affair with chickpea flour took flight on a recent trip to the sun-drenched Côte d’Azur. There, In the middle of an outdoor market in Nice, I saw it: a makeshift restaurant advertising “socca.” I’d heard of this savory crêpe before, but had never experienced an authentic taste of it. All I really knew was that for generations, it was the snack food of choice among dock workers on this stretch of the Riviera. Made simply with chickpea flour, olive oil, salt, and water, socca is not only cheap and filling, but—as it turns out—extremely tasty.
Chickpea flour is a common ingredient in many parts of the world, including the Mediterranean, where it is transformed into a variety of crêpe-like breads (in Toulon it’s called “cadé,” and in Italy, “farinata”). In India, it’s used as a batter for deep-fried vegetables known as pakora, and in different sweet and savory cakes. Though chickpea flour is higher in fat than most flours, it’s also gluten-free and adds a rich, moist consistency to baked goods. The best way to experience it for the first time, though, is with this simple socca recipe. Serve it the traditional way, with a dusting of black pepper, a shake of salt, and a glass of chilled rosé.
1 cup chickpea flour
2 cups water
2 Tbs. olive oil, divided
1 tsp. salt
1. Combine flour, water, 1 Tbs. olive oil, and salt in a bowl. Whisk until smooth and frothy, then let rest for at least 1 hour. The batter will retain a very wet consistency.
2. Preheat oven to 450°F. Grease a 10.5-inch pie pan with 1 Tbs. olive oil, and warm in oven for 1 minute. Remove pan from heat and gently pour in chickpea batter. Bake 45 to 60 minutes, or until the top begins to brown. To serve, let cool, then slice into wedges and season with salt and pepper to taste.