This spinach and pea socca/farinata is a simple savory chickpea flat-bread topped with a spinach pea pesto.
Since the weather is starting to warm up, I thought this would be a good time to share with you my spinach and pea socca recipe. It always reminds me of summers in France and is especially good with a cold glass of white wine or rosé.
If you’ve never heard of socca, it’s a simple but delicious dish that’s quite popular in Nice, as well as in parts of Italy where it’s referred to as farinata.
Part savory crêpe part flatbread, it’s a simple but delicious dish that’s destined to be your new summer favorite once you try it. Traditionally made from just chickpea flour, water and olive oil (with some freshly ground black pepper on top). It’s baked on a large round pan in a wood-fired oven, then rustically scraped off the pan into large slabs and served while still warm. It has a custardy interior and is golden and on top and crispy around the edges.
Of course, as usual, I’ve taken some liberties with tradition and put my own twist on the basic recipe. Not having a wood-fired oven available, I made mine in a pre-heated cast-iron pan in a very hot oven with great results. I also couldn’t resist dropping a few spoonfuls of spinach pea pistou into the batter and topping it with some extra spinach leaves before putting it in the oven.
Pistou, is pesto’s French cousin. Like pesto (only minus the pine nuts and parmesan), it’s an essential part of the classic French soupe au pistou but also makes an excellent sauce in its own. I’ve added spinach and green peas to my pistou for extra fresh flavor and bright color. Once baked the pistou creates flavorful pockets of green throughout the socca and the whole spinach leaves make for a pretty topping.
Unlike the original, I like to make my socca thick, so it’s a bit loftier and more foccacia-like than the traditional version. This makes it easier to pick up and eat with your fingers when sliced into neat wedges and also gives it more longevity out of the oven. As delicious as traditional socca is, it’s really best eaten right out of the oven or it tends to dry out and harden. A touch of baking soda in the batter is the secret to keeping this version so light and airy long after it’s come out of the oven. You’ll also want to plan ahead and make the batter the night before to allow it to rest properly. It comes together quickly but needs a good long rest before cooking which will both help with digestion and ensure that the flour is fully hydrated.
Serve it as an appetizer, or with some dressed salad greens, just don’t forget the wine!
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