It has been a while since I’ve posted a recipe…This has become a favorite around our house. I make them over the weekend and we have them for a good portion of the week to munch on. They’re great heated up in the toaster oven for breakfast, and I love them as well in place of bread to go with my salad at lunch!
Let’s talk about chickpea flour, shall we? Matt and I discovered socca years ago when I got Mark Bittman’s “How to Cook Everything Vegetarian” book. I highly suggest it for anyone wanting to add more vegetarian recipes to their dining table; most recipes are simple, flexible and delicious! So, chickpea flour is also called garbanzo bean flour, gram flour and besan. You can find it in most grocery stores (Bob’s Red Mill is a popular brand), health food stores and international markets. This flour is made from…(you guessed it!) raw or roasted chickpeas. It has a higher protein content than regular flours and is gluten-free.
Chickpea flour is the main ingredient for the popular “Faranita” in Italy (where it originated) or “socca” in southeastern France where it is a popular street food. Traditionally it’s mixed with water and olive oil, then poured into a tin pan and cooked as a thin pancake over an open flame. It’s often enjoyed with fresh herbs and a glass of wine. A version of this chickpea pancake can also be eaten in places such as Algeria, Uruguay, Argentina, India and Spain.
We went though a phase where we were making socca in our cast iron skillet on a weekly basis as a “pizza” crust (thanks for the recommendation, Mark Bittman), topped with pesto, onions and olives. Yum. The texture was always hard to get right without that open flame to really get the top to crust over though. We’ve made them crepe-style and tortilla style. I tried a muffin version after that, and it worked okay, but then I got distracted by other recipes like cauliflower crusts and broccoli flat breads…
Focus, Amber, focus! A few years later and I’m back to chickpea flour. After some test cooking and taking tips from this recipe by the mostly vegan and Mark Bittman’s recipe, I’ve finally come up with my own, which I describe as a savory pizza-muffin for any time of the day. Although, I find that hot out of the oven, this tasty treat begs to be had with a glass of wine!
Savory Socca Muffins
This recipe is gluten free. If you omit the cheese, it’s also dairy-free.
Makes about 16 muffins; see bottom of page for veggie + cheese combos
3-4 Cups fresh veggies of your choice, chopped small
1 1/2 – 2 Cups cheese of choice, optional
Fresh or dried herbs of your choice
2 Cups Chickpea flour
1/4 Cup nutritional yeast*
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp sea salt + pinch for roasting veggies
1 TBS red pepper flakes to taste, optional
3 cloves of crushed fresh garlic
1 TBS olive oil + extra for roasting veggies
2 1/2 Cups water
First, whisk together the flour, baking powder, nutritional yeast, salt, pepper, water and olive oil. Make sure all the lumps are out. Add chopped herbs of choice. Set aside. It’s great if you can leave this batter for a few hours, but let it rest at least for 30 minutes.
Pre-heat oven to 400°.
You can do one of 3 things with the veggies:
1) Roast the veggies (my recommendation): Toss veggies, olive oil, garlic and a pinch of salt in a bowl and mix well. Place veggies on a cookie sheet and roast in the oven at 400° for approximately 25-35 minutes.
2) Steam the veggies in a steamer basket on the stove top until just cooked.
3) OR sauté veggies with garlic and a bit of oil on the stove top in a pan.
After the veggies are cooked, grease your muffin tin (or add parchment paper liners or use a non-stick pan) and fill your cups with veggies about halfway.
If using cheese, add about 1 TBS per muffin cup, on top of the veggies. Then pour batter over the cups to almost-full. Wiggle each cup by sticking a spoon in there to get the batter to the bottom.
Bake in the oven for 35 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool before removing from pan.
This is a super loose recipe in the regard that you can use any veggie, any cheese, any herb, etc. I think along the lines of what’s fun on pizza. Here is my #1 favorite combo:
Roasted broccoli, kale (or spinach), baby tomatoes (halved) and zucchini mixed with feta cheese and fresh basil + oregano.
Roasted green chiles, cheddar cheese and optional ground beef or bacon would be good for meat eaters….
What about gorgonzola or blue cheese, sautéed mushrooms, thyme and carmelized onions? Yum.
Roasted red onions, chopped kalamata olives and feta muffins smeared with pesto upon serving…
You get the idea now, right?
*Nutritional yeast is a deactivated yeast commonly used by vegetarians because of its nutty, “cheesy” flavor. It’s a source for B-complex vitamins and is a complete protein. “Nooch” is found in the form of powder or flakes, usually in the bulk section or “health food” section of grocery stores. (Natural Grocers has it placed near their vitamins/supplements and it’s a few dollars for a bag.)
If you are interested in a good, basic vegetarian recipe book, especially if you’re just beginning to go down that road, check out Mark Bittman’s book here. I’m quite sure you can find a vegetarian version of almost any dish. I love his approach to cooking and the ease of substitutions in his recipes!