Socca: An Easy, Naturally Gluten-Free Flatbread

I have a weakness for all things garbanzo bean. Garbanzos (or chickpeas, if you prefer) are the basis for my beloved falafel. And, of course, the highly addictive hummus. Baked or fried (I prefer baked) garbanzos are, I believe, the snack of the future. Give me a salad with garbanzo beans, and I will leave and extra tip.

As I’ve been thinking about gluten-free breads, I’ve been researching naturally gluten-free breads. And by naturally, I mean breads that don’t require a mix of five different flours before they’re added to a mix of five different flours. Simple, minimal ingredient breads that just happen to be gluten free.

As I started researching these breads, I was reminded it had been a long time since I’d made socca. Socca is a French bread, originally from Nice, made with chickpea flour, olive oil (lots of olive oil), salt, water, and a bit of seasoning. It’s thin, a bit crispy, and perfect alone or as a vehicle to move cheeses, roasted peppers, or other tasty foods to your mouth.

You may also know socca by other names. In Italy, it’s called farinata or cecina. In Spain, they’re known as tortillitas, and the batter is mixed with shrimp or other seafood and bit of onion and seasonings. If you’re in South America, look for fainá.

In India, pudlas are relatives of socca, though with more seasoning. There are many more versions to be found worldwide (this Wikipedia article gives you a sense of how popular this flatbread is!)

Next up in my socca experiments: learning to make them on the grill. I worry that many garbanzo beans will be sacrificed in process.

What is your secret favorite food?

Tip of the Week

When making pancakes, flatbreads, or crispy socca with chickpea flour, let the batter rest for at least thirty minutes; two hours is generally the rule of thumb. This gives the flour plenty of time to absorb water.

Menu of the Week

Some nights, a dinner of appetizers seems just right. Socca, with its savory and crispy texture works as flexible appetizer ingredient because you can change the flavor to suit your mood: Italian herbs, French rosemary, a bit za’atar for a Middle Eastern flavor. For me, I like socca with some cheese, a rose wine, olives, and maybe salami.

This week’s menu is designed for noshing in the backyard on a summer night or for standing around the kitchen island when friends are over. This flatbread is one of my favorite ways to make a gluten-free bread that doesn’t seem like it’s gluten free!

  • Socca (2 – 3 flatbreads cut into wedges, strips, or squares)
  • A mix of good olives, pitted, or tapenade
  • A creamy cheese and a salty hard cheese (like Manchego)
  • Roasted peppers
  • Salami
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