Over the years I have become an ardent admirer of the humble chickpea and I use it in every way I can. Recently we have been visiting southern France and western Italy and one crop that grows in abundance in that region is the chickpea and it is a key ingredient of the local diet.
In Italy they make a very large pancake of chickpea called farinata. Farinatas come with various toppings but in my opinion the classic and most humble zuchinni farinata is the best of the lot. Courgettes are another vegetable that is in abundance in Italy and it is an excellent use of the vegetable. I was determined to eat farinata during my trip and fortunately on the very first evening of our stay we walked into a shop that did excellent farinatas. It was indeed a stroke of luck because later I realized that very few pizzerias in Italy continue to do farinatas. We, or safe to say I, ate farinatas at least once everyday. On one evening we decided to make a farinata meal a little special.We bought some farinatas and a bottle of Chianti Classico and walked to the top a cliff in Riomaggario.There after dusk we sat, on the top of the cliff with the ruins of a church behind us and the open sea glittering under a clear full moon sky in front of us, eating Italian food drinking Italian wine and breathing the sweet air of the salty Ligurian sea.
In France a similar dish is called socca. I liked socca though not as much as farinata which I felt was a delicate version of the two.
I am not sure I will ever be able to or want to make a Farinata. But I tried socca using Yotam Ottolenghi ‘s recipe. Yotam is also a fellow admirer of chicpeas. I love the flavours that he designs and I often create a cut down version of his recipes sans all expensive and exotic ingredients. For the socca recipe there is little I could or needed to take away. It is really that simple.
I worked with 80 gms of chick pea flour and 200 ml of water and the results were very satisfactory. Do not worry if you do not have a oven as I have tried it without using one and that works well too. Just toss the socca and keep it for a extra few minutes to allow it to cook. Just remember the pan needs to be very hot when you pour the batter for the first time.