One of the many things I enjoy about editing the In the Kitchen With column is the opportunity to learn about food from different cultures, or in today’s case, learn how similar foods are between certain cultures. Food blogger and cookbook author Phoebe Lapine’s Shallot Socca with Three Herb Pesto, Marinated Cherry Tomatoes, and Ricotta, has as its main feature a simple baked savory ‘flatbread’ made from chickpea flour, typical to Nice, and to the Italian region of Liguria, where it is called farinata di ceci. It is super simple to make, and while I would normally consider it more of a winter dish, Phoebe has expertly dressed it with the best tastes of summer. So if, in the blazing heat, you can stand to have your oven on, you will be rewarded with a wonderful taste of Mediterranean summer. -Kristina
Phoebe Lapine is a cookbook author, caterer, private chef, culinary instructor, competitive French fry eater, and owner of one too many frilly aprons. On her blog, Feed Me Phoebe, she chronicles her healthy comfort food, gluten-free finds, snap shots of her professional cooking world, and all the reasons why every dish tastes better when shared with family and friends. As a completely self-taught chef, Phoebe strongly believes in the dogma, made popular by Pixar’s Ratataouille, that anyone can cook. Her website and cookbook encourage people to cook smarter not harder, with feel-good food that merges comfort with health. She believes in eating a lot of good with a little bad, and that kale lasagna is better than no lasagna at all.
See Phoebe’s recipe after the jump!
Shallot Socca with Three Herb Pesto, Marinated Cherry Tomatoes, and Ricotta
Makes 4 servings
- 1 cup chickpea flour
- Sea salt
- Olive oil
- 1 large shallot, thinly sliced
- 1 pint assorted cherry tomatoes, halved
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1/3 cup three herb pesto (recipe follows)
- 1/3 cup fresh ricotta
1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Place a 12-inch cast iron skillet on a rack in the upper half of the oven.
2. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the flour and 1 teaspoon salt together until incorporated. Slowly pour in 1 cup of lukewarm water (you can test it on your forearm – it should feel slightly warm on your skin) while whisking. Stir until the liquid is absorbed and the batter is smooth. Allow to sit, covered, until the oven is hot. Note: the batter can also sit for up to 24 hours.
3. Stir in 2 tablespoons of olive oil and the slices of shallot.
4. Remove the hot pan from the oven and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil – enough to coat the bottom with a thin layer. Swirl the oil around the pan so it’s well coated. Pour in the batter and swirl the pan so it forms an even layer.
5. Bake the chickpea cake in the oven for 12 minutes, until firmly set. Remove the pan from the oven and brush some additional olive oil on top of the cake so it gets browned and crusty (you can skip this step if you like). Place the pan under the broiler for 3 minutes, until the top is golden brown.
6. Meanwhile, combine the tomatoes, ½ teaspoon salt, sugar, balsamic, garlic. and 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a medium-mixing bowl. Allow to marinate, tossing occasionally, until the socca is ready.
7. Serve the socca immediately. Cut it into wedges and drizzle with the pesto. Top each slice with a heaping tablespoon of fresh ricotta and the cherry tomatoes.
Three Herb Cashew Pesto
Makes about 1 cup
- 1 garlic clove
- 1/4 cup roasted cashews
- 1 cup tightly packed basil leaves
- 1 cup snipped chives
- 1 tablespoon thyme
- Juice of ½ a lemon
- ¼ cup olive oil
- ½ teaspoon salt
1. In a small food processor pulse the garlic and the nuts until finely chopped. Add the basil, chives, thyme, and lemon juice and blend until the herbs have begun to break down.
2. Add the olive oil, and puree until the mixture is smooth and at your desired consistency, adding more oil as necessary to break down the nuts and herbs. Add salt and extra lemon juice for acidity as needed.
Why Phoebe loves this recipe
The first time I was served socca was at my friend Emily’s house.It was some sort of revelation, and when I tried it out myself at home, nothing could be easier and more delicious straight out of the oven. She served it with fresh ricotta on top, which made for an amazing appetizer. During the summertime, I’m always looking for ways to use up herbs from the garden and tomatoes form the farmer’s market, and socca is as good an excuse as any for a simple lunch or dinner. No matter which direction you go, and whether you’re gluten-free or not, this might become your weeknight go-to dish, just as it is for Emily, to whom I am forever grateful for my new found addiction.