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






Socca Chips (Panisses / Panizzie)


One of our rituals on a visit to Nice is a wander down the winding, narrow streets of the Old Town in search of a plate of socca.  Known as farinata across the Italian border, socca is a thick pancake made from chickpea flour and in Vieux Nice it’s great fun to see it being deftly cooked in the street in large, flat pans.  Once it’s ready, this delicious street food is roughly cut and sprinkled generously with black pepper (essential).

As with all things culinary in this part of the world, there are endless arguments about the correct ratio of chickpea flour to water and many people believe it is not a recipe to be cooked at home but one to be brought back to the house as a takeaway.  I tend to agree as it’s not easy to produce something as good as what’s on offer in Vieux Nice so maybe it’s one of those local specialities that should only be enjoyed in situ.

Socca chips however are an entirely different matter and my family go mad for them.  These little chickpea flour fries are called panisse in Nice and panizzie in Western Liguria where they are also made.  Simply make a thick chickpea flour paste, leave it to cool, slice the mixture into batons and fry these batons in olive oil.  I like to add a little grated cheese and some cumin to the batter, ideas pinched from Hilary Davis’ recently published book ‘Cuisine Niçoise’.  Serve the chips on their own as a snack or a hearty canapé with the obligatory twist of the black pepper mill and a pinch of sea salt.

Socca Chips

175g chickpea flour
1 ½ tsps ground cumin
1 ½ tbsps extra virgin olive oil plus extra for frying
25g gruyere cheese
675ml water
Pinch sea salt


Whisk the above ingredients together in a large bowl, then transfer to a heavy-based saucepan and heat until thick, stirring constantly.  This should take about five minutes.

Pour the thickened mixture into a greased baking tray and leave to cool.  I use a 22cm square tin which gives quite thin chips. Cut the mixture into slices and fry in olive oil until crisp and browned on the outside.

Serve the chips straight away with salt and pepper sprinkled over them as desired.