In summertime, I crave simple, nourishing foods. Fresh, and vibrant and blessedly easy to prepare. And while in wintertime, I favor hardy stews and roasts, in summer I want for something decidedly lighter.
Lately, I've leaned heavily on socca, a thin flatbread traditionally served in the south of France (it goes by the name farinata in Italy). Like the best of foods, socca is wonderfully simple to prepare and contains only a handful of uncomplicated, nourishing ingredients: chickpea flour, olive oil, salt and water.
Its light, but nutty flavor, pairs well with the robust flavors of summer: ripe tomatoes, fresh herbs, roasted garlic and even more olive oil. Sometimes I'll serve it as a light lunch, like today, and other times I serve it as an appetizer before I bringing out the main dish and ample sidedishes for dinner party guests.
Chickpeas are as central to socca, as good flour is to wholesome artisan breads. Chickpeas are rich in chickpeas, folate, and thiamin as well as minerals like phosphorus, iron, zinc, and manganese. Of course, the minerals in chickpeas like the minerals in other pulses and in grains and nuts, are better absorbed when the chickpeas are prepared properly through sprouting, soaking or sour leavening. These traditional processes render the minerals found in pulses, grains, nuts and seeds more bioavailable.
Why Soaking and Sprouting Chickpeas Matters
Chickpeas, like all nuts and seeds, grains and pulses, contain food phytate. Food phytate can bind minerals, and prevent their full absorption. And, chickpeas, like other pulses, can be difficult to digest. The process of soaking, sprouting or souring can help to not only make the minerals they do contain more bioavailable, but that process also renders the bean easier to digest.
Sprouting, coupled with soaking or souring, can be particularly helpful in mitigating the effects of food phytate while ensuring the beans are easy to digest which is why I tend to work with sprouted chickpea flour (though this recipe also works with regular chickpea flour as well). More importantly, soaking the chickpea flour overnight, whether it is sprouted or not, also gives the final flatbread a wonderful, faint, tartness that complements the naturally earthy, nutty flavor of the chickpeas.
- Dump the chickpea flour into a medium-sized mixing bowl. Stir in the lemon juice and water. Cover the bowl, and allow it to rest at room temperature at least 12 and up to 24 hours.
- Set a 10-inch cast iron skillet in the oven, and heat the broiler.
- Whisk in olive oil and salt, until it forms a thin, smooth batter.
- When the skillet is nice and hot, swirl a glug of olive oil in the bottom of the skillet until it's completely coated, then pour in half the batter, swirling it if necessary so that it coats the bottom of the skillet. Broil the socca until its edges turn crisp, and it begins to blister - about 7 minutes.
- Gently remove the socca from the pan, continue with the remaining half of the batter. Cut into squares and serve with more olive oil, fresh herbs, tomatoes, anchovies, olives or whatever you happen to like.