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






Mini olive & onion muffins (gluten free)

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I’ve written about chickpea flour before.  On the Côte d’Azur and over in Liguria it’s the common ingredient for delicious pancakes cooked in large, flat copper pans. Topped only with black pepper in Nice where it’s called socca, Ligurians often add herbs or thinly sliced onions to their farinata.

A pancake made with chickpea flour is something altogether different from one made with white flour.   The chickpea flour which is also known as gram, besan and garbanzo bean flour, gives a nutty flavour and a much denser texture, making the pancake more filling and tastier (in my opinion), plus it has the added benefit of being gluten free.  Given such advantages, this kitchen has witnessed a few experiments with chickpea flour this year, some more successful than others, but my latest creation was a triumph and I judge this by the enthusiasm shown for it by my husband and children.  They act as excellent barometers of what works and what doesn’t, so the recipe for mini olive and onion muffins is below.   The mixture makes about 30 canapé-sized mouthfuls and feel free to add finely grated parmesan to the batter should you wish.  These easy-to-make morsels would be perfect over the holiday season with a glass of fizz or a fresh, dry white.

Mini olive & onion muffins
You will need a mini muffin tin for this recipe.

200g chickpea flour
3 eggs
175ml greek yogurt
60g black olives, pitted and finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
50g parmesan cheese, finely grated (optional)
A good pinch of salt

Set the oven to 200°C.

Sauté the chopped onion in olive oil until soft.  Leave to cool.

Beat the eggs, add the yogurt to them and mix until combined.  Sieve the chickpea flour into the mixture to lessen the likelihood of a lumpy batter. To this batter add the cooled onion, the olives, salt and cheese (if using).  Give the whole lot a really good stir.

Using a pastry brush, grease a mini muffin tin with olive oil.  Pop it in the warmed oven for a minute or so to warm up the oil, then take it out and distribute the muffin mix evenly so that the mixture in each recess is level with the top of the tin.

Bake in the oven for approximately 15 minutes or until the muffins are browned on top and slightly risen.   Do watch them though as oven temperatures can vary.

Pop the muffins out of the tin and eat straight away while still hot.