Socca pizza

If you’ve looked at this blog before, and I know it’s a while since I last posted, you will be aware that I am a huge fan of socca, the thick chickpea flour pancakes commonly sold as a kind of street food in Nice.  It was while living in Nice in the 1990s that I first came across socca and started to investigate uses for its chief ingredient, the nutty, gluten-free chickpea flour.  A year or so ago I was intrigued to hear that a friend and fellow socca lover had tried to make pizza with the flour and I’ve been experimenting on and off with this idea ever since trying different ingredients for the pizza ‘dough’ and a range of options for toppings.

The cooking method for the gluten-free pizza base differs from the traditional wheat dough in that it is fried in a pan after which the topping is laid on the base, the whole mélange then being put under a hot grill for a few minutes to finish off.

My recipe is below and I hope you find time to give it a go.  My 18-year-old and I enjoyed a couple of pizzas topped with pesto, courgette and goat’s cheese for lunch today!

Socca pizza base
Using a 20cm frying pan, this will make 6 medium-sized pizzas, each one making a good helping for one person.

200g chickpea flour
50g comté cheese, grated
1 tsp ground cumin
A good pinch of salt
100ml olive oil
400ml water
Extra olive oil for frying

Sieve the chickpea flour into a bowl and pour in the olive oil and water.  Whisk the mixture to form a batter then add the remaining ingredients.  Stir to incorporate everything.

Heat a drizzle of olive oil in the frying pan on a high heat and when the oil is hot, add a ladle of the batter and tip the pan to ensure the batter covers the base completely.  Leave the batter to fry for a couple of minutes until the edges start to look browned and crispy.  Turn the pizza over and cook for a further two minutes.  Turn again to make sure the bottom side is nicely browned (see the final photo below).

Move the pizza to a baking tray and add your toppings.  I’ve set out some of our favourite combinations below.  Anything you would put on a wheat-based pizza dough would work here but if you’re using a traditional tomato sauce base, make sure it is nice and thick and not runny.

Our socca pizza toppings:

  • Very fine asparagus & red onion (griddled in advance to soften) with grated comté
  • Sundried tomato tapenade with sundried tomatoes and scamorza (smoked mozzarella)
  • Pesto with sliced, griddled courgettes and crumbled goat’s cheese






Courgette Flower Fritters

CourgetteFlower2For the last few years we have successfully grown courgettes here in Dorset and I’ve enjoyed putting them to good use in many a Riviera-influenced recipe. This year, however, I have yet to harvest even one courgette from my three plants, but the beautiful, yellow courgette flowers have been prolific.

Ideas for stuffing this delicate crop abound and I have tried various concoctions including ricotta with herbs, pesto and even mozarella and anchovy.  But stuffing these beautiful blooms can be a fiddly business and sometimes all I want is something quick, easy and tasty for my current (almost) daily supply.

So here’s what I’ve come up with, using one of my favourite ingredients, chickpea flour.  Quick, easy and so moreish.

Chickpea Flour & Saffron Courgette Flower Fritters
(no stuffing)

20 courgette flowers, washed and dried
125g chickpea flour
175ml sparkling water
A pinch of salt
A pinch of saffron strands
Olive oil for frying

Make a batter by whisking together the flour, water, salt and saffron.

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan.

Coat the courgette flowers in the batter and drop them, a few at a time, into the oil.  Turn them over and then remove them from the pan once they are lightly browned and crisp.  Drain on kitchen towel and serve immediately.

A great canapé idea!