My sister just moved to Boston and bequeathed me a couple cookbooks that she didn’t want to lug there from St. Louis. One is Ottolenghi’s Plenty.
I actually already own a copy of the cookbook but it’s buried in a box that I brought back from D.C. So I decided to make this copy my own. When I leafed through and saw a recipe for socca, I knew that I had to make it.
I saw pictures of socca semi-recently online and the concept intrigued me. They’re savory pancakes topped with roasted vegetables. I’m a big fan of sweet pancakes and I like most fried things, so I thought that I would enjoy this recipe.
I wasn’t wrong. Socca are like blini, or Russian pancakes. They’re thin, light, and crispy, so you can eat a bunch of them and not feel sick afterward. My favorite part about them is how crispy they get around the edges but how soft they are inside. They texture is even better than regular pancakes, which sometimes feel too heavy.
Ottolenghi called for topping the socca with roasted tomatoes and caramelized onions with thyme, and serving the pancakes with crème fraîche. I forgot to buy thyme so I omitted that, but otherwise I followed the recipe.
The caramelized onions make the pancakes. Adding a little white vinegar in right before they’re done cooking makes the onions even sweeter and brings out the caramel flavor. It also contrasts well with the tomatoes, which get layered on top of the pancakes and onions.
I would also *highly* recommend the crème fraîche as a garnish. If you don’t have it on hand, Greek yogurt or sour cream would also work well. It cuts through the sweetness and adds some tart flavor, and it pairs well with the crispy chickpea pancakes.
ANYWAY. Make these pancakes as soon as possible. I’m not going to lie: They take some time and effort. It’s a little torturous flipping pancakes and waiting for them to be done. But, if you’re like me, you’ll find a solution to that problem, like eating one, or two, or five pancakes directly from the skillet.
Socca with Caramelized Onions, Roasted Tomatoes, and Crème Fraîche (adapted from Ottolenghi’s Plenty)
for the grape tomatoes:
2 cups grape tomatoes, sliced in half
salt and pepper for sprinkling
for the onions:
2 large yellow onions, thinly sliced into rounds
2 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper for sprinkling
1/2 tsp white wine vinegar
for the socca:
1 3/4 cups chickpea flour
2 cups water
1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
3/4 tsp salt
2 egg whites, whipped
more olive oil for frying
crème fraîche for serving
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F. Line a small baking sheet with parchment paper and arrange the tomatoes, cut-sides up. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Put in the oven and cook for 20-25 minutes, or until the tomatoes are starting to break down but haven’t completely done so yet.
Meanwhile, make the onions. Heat the 2 1/2 Tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the yellow onions, stir, and then reduce heat to low. Cook the onions for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they’re golden brown but not too dark. Add the vinegar in right before they’re done cooking and stir to distribute. Remove from heat and set aside. Once you take the onions out of the oven, increase the heat to 325 degrees F.
Make the socca batter by combining the chickpea flour, water, olive oil, pepper, and salt in a bowl. Whisk together until the batter looks uniform. Whip the egg whites into soft peaks in a metal bowl and then use a spatula to gently fold in the egg whites to the socca batter.
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and brush with olive oil. Set aside. Brush a nonstick skillet with olive oil and heat on high for a couple minutes. Then, reduce the heat to medium and pour in about 1/4-1/2 cup of batter. Wait until the pancake gets bubbles on top before flipping. This will take about two minutes. Cook on the other side for a minute, then remove the pancake and set it on the prepared baking sheet. Do not layer the pancakes; place them side by side.
Continue to cook the pancakes until both baking sheets are full. Then, place the baking sheets in the oven for about 5 minutes to heat up the pancakes. Remove them from the oven and top with the onions and tomatoes. Place the baking sheets back in the oven for about 4 minutes, or until the ingredients are heated through.
Remove the sheets from the oven and serve the socca warm with a dollop of crème fraîche. Enjoy!