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Mediterranean Socca

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It’s certainly not the first time I’ve shared a socca recipe, but as with so many of the culinary world’s simpler delights, socca lends itself to so many interpretations. Socca is the essence of social food (it’s classic street fare in Nice), so I love making this recipe when I have friends over. Everywhere you go in the city, you get a bowlful of olives to go with everything from your starter to your drinks – and it goes so well with socca. The peppers are equally popular, and a great addition to the dish that adds that extra touch of colour and unmistakable Mediterranean flavour. The wild card here is the Hollandaise sauce, which is not a typical socca accompaniment, and a bit of a challenge if you’ve never tried your hand at making it, but once conquered, it’s worth it for the sense of satisfaction alone – and puts an irresistibly elegant spin on this peppery streetside treat.

MEDITERRANEAN SOCCA

TIME: 1 hour | SERVES: 6

INGREDIENTS

for the roasted peppers

1 yellow bell pepper 

1 red bell pepper 

80 ml olive oil

5 ml whole grain mustard 

50 ml canola oil 

10 ml olive brine 

30 ml lemon juice 

salt

black pepper

for the socca 

250 ml chickpea flour 

30 ml olive oil 

250 ml water 

2,5 ml salt 

1 ml ground cumin 

olive oil 

for the olive hollandaise

180 g butter, salted 

80 ml white wine

10 ml white wine vinegar 

6 egg yolks 

1 egg     

10 ml  lemon juice (freshly squeezed) 

10 ml olive brine 

salt 

for the olives

1 jar mixed olives 

1 lemon (divided in half) 

1 sprig rosemary 

30 ml olive oil

METHOD

for the olive hollandaise

Place the butter in a medium saucepan over low heat and allow to melt. When the milk solids and fat separate, the milk solids will rise to the top. Spoon and skim off all the milk solids. Strain the remaining butter mixture through a fine sieve.  Use a medium-sized pot, fill halfway with water, and allow to simmer over medium heat. Place the egg yolks and egg in a medium-sized mixing bowl that will fit on top of the pot. Whisk the wine and vinegar together and place the bowl on the pot with simmering water. Reduce the heat to low. Whisk continuously. Once the egg mixture starts to thicken, slowly add the butter in a thin stream (make sure to incorporate the butter in small batches before adding more). Once the desired consistency is reached, remove from the heat, and whisk in the lemon juice and olive brine. Add more salt and lemon juice if needed. 

for the olives

Drain the olives from the jar and set brine aside for the hollandaise. In a mixing bowl add the juice of half a lemon, picked rosemary leaves and olive oil. Whisk until incorporated, then add the drained olives to marinade in the fridge for 2 hours. Use the other half of the lemon to make thin slices, that can be used for garnish later. 

for the roasted peppers

Heat the oven to 200°C and line a baking tray with grease proof paper. Slice the peppers into quarters and remove the seeds. Slice into thick strips, drizzle with 30ml of olive oil, season with salt and pepper and roast in the oven for 15-20min until tender. While the peppers are roasting in the oven, make a vinaigrette in which to marinade the roasted peppers. In a medium mixing bowl add the wholegrain mustard, olive brine and lemon juice and whisk until combined. In a sauce jug or measuring jug combine the remaining 50ml of olive oil and canola oil together. Add the oil in a thin stream while mixing continuously, once all the oil is incorporated season with salt and pepper and add more lemon juice if needed. Add cooked peppers to the vinaigrette and allow to marinade in the fridge for at least 2 hours. 

for the socca

Whisk the chickpea flour, water, olive oil and salt together in a bowl until smooth. Let it rest for 3 – 4 hours (or overnight) to give the flour time to absorb the water. In the oven, place the oven rack below the grill element and heat to 210 °C. Place a cast-iron or non-stick saucepan in the oven and turn on the grill. Remove the pan from the oven and add 30 ml oil to coat the bottom of the pan when the pan is swirled. Pour the batter into the centre of the pan. Tilt the pan so the batter coats the entire surface of the pan, if needed. 

Place under the grill for 5 – 8 minutes. The socca should be flexible in the middle but crispy on the edges. Move the pan to a lower oven rack if the top is browning too quickly. Use a flat spatula to work your way under the socca and ease onto your serving plate. Repeat with the rest of the socca batter. 

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