We’re thrilled to have another installment of Secrets of an Astoria Chef, a column written by Astorian chef Clare Langan. This time she’s brought us a recipe for socca, a seriously delicious chickpea pancake, one of the world’s best snacks. It also happens to be vegan and gluten-free. Bon appetit! -Meg
What did we do before hummus? Creamy, tangy and the perfect vessel for pita; I practically lived on Sabra in college. In fact, I love a chickpea in any form. My roommate and I often boil up bags for salads, soups and Indian-inspired stir fires. They’re inexpensive, filling and healthy.
Chickpea flour is an ingenious, naturally gluten-free creation used throughout the world. It’s a staple in Indian cuisine (think pappadum) where it’s sometimes labeled ‘gram flour’ or ‘besan’. While visiting my friend and (and current Astorian) Tim in Buenos Aires a few years ago, I had a pancake-like version served, curiously, on top of pizza (fainá). One of my favorite chickpea flour creations is socca, a crepe with roots in southern France and Italy’s Ligurian coast.
Street vendors in Nice serve up socca for a snack or late-afternoon nibble with a glass of wine (mais oui!) Like tortillas and pitas, socca makes a great foundation for mostly anything. I’ve been known to make silver-dollar-sized socca as a base for eggs Florentine or larger ones sliced into triangles and served with soup. But my favorite way? Topped with peppery arugula and tangy vinaigrette.
I had some dill lying around from Elliniki Agora, and a handful of baby arugula from a Wednesday trip to Brooklyn Grange. I always buy my tahini at Titan Foods because the ladies at the pastry counter always give me 2 or 3 baklava when I ask for one. It’s the small things in life.
Chickpea Crepes with Arugula, Tahini and Dill Salad
1 cup chickpea flour
1/2 tsp salt
4 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup lukewarm water
2 tbs finely chopped fresh dill
Juice from 1 lemon
1 tbs red wine vinegar
2 tbs tahini, stirred
2 tbs olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
Topping extras (optional): slow-roasted tomatoes*, roasted red peppers, cucumber, nicoise olives, chives
Sift together the chickpea flour, salt and pepper. Whisk in the water and olive oil until smooth. Cover and let sit for a few hours (or overnight in the fridge).
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Place a small-to-medium oven-safe skillet in the oven for about 10 minutes. Remove from oven and pour in a few tablespoons of grapeseed oil. Pour in about 1/4 cup batter, and swirl to coat the pan. Return to the oven and bake for about 10 minutes. Heat the broiler and broil for about 1 minute until top is browned.
Whisk together the dill, lemon juice and red wine vinegar. Slowly whisk in the tahini and olive oil, adding more lemon, vinegar or olive oil to taste. Season with salt and pepper.
To serve, toss together arugula with a little dressing. Place on top of warm socca. Garnish as you wish.
*To slow-roast tomatoes:
Heat oven to 250F. Place a bunch of sliced tomatoes on a parchment-lined baking sheet with a little olive oil and sprinkle of salt. Roast for 3-4 hours until ‘melted’ and slightly dry in parts. Store in a sealed container in the fridge with a drizzle of olive oil for up to a week.
This recipe is naturally vegan and gluten-free.
Clare Langan is a graduate from The Institute of Culinary Education and a personal chef and food enthusiast. She interned in the Test Kitchen at Every Day with Rachael Ray magazine and developed and tested recipes with Top Chef contestant Candice Kumai, the “Stiletto Chef”. Along with her work as a personal chef, she is a teaching assistant at The Brooklyn Kitchen and Haven’s Kitchen. You can sometimes find Clare slingin’ pork buns at Smorgasburg or practicing my downward dog at Yoga Agora. She’s also proud member of Kitchensurfing.