Provençal Socca with Shaved Fennel & Aïoli
March 26, 2020
By Elizabeth Palmer Califano

Though its origin is often disputed, you’ll find socca, or chickpea flour pancakes in abundance throughout France, Italy, Spain, and even as far as Argentina. Whether called socca, farinata, or panisse, you’ll be happy to know you can easily recreate this delicious street fare in your own kitchen.

Chickpea flour, made from dried and ground chickpeas, is naturally gluten-free, low in carbohydrates, high in protein, and rich in folate, iron, magnesium, and zinc. Fennel is the ideal accompaniment, helping to cut through the rich olive oil, and boosting digestion with its high fiber content and concentration of beneficial phytonutrients. Aïoli is a traditional ingredient in the South of France and adds an extra kick of garlic flavor to this dish. Feel free to top these up with whatever greens, vegetables, or sauces you like; they’re very adaptable and easy to mix and match.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup chickpea flour
  • ¾ cup water
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for cooking
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper
  • 1 cup chopped mixed greens (try spinach, arugula, kale)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced, divided
  • ¼ cup chopped fennel fronds (from the fennel, below)
  • 1 bulb fennel, sliced very thinly, or shaved on a mandolin
  • Juice of ½ lemon (more or less to taste)
  • Cherry tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup mayo
  • 1 tablespoon fennel fronds, minced, plus more to garnish
  • Flaky sea salt, to serve

Socca and shaved fennel with aioli on a blue plate from above.

Directions:

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the chickpea flour, water, egg, 1 tablespoon olive oil, a pinch of salt and pepper, the chopped mixed greens, 1 minced garlic clove, and the ¼ cup chopped fennel fronds until you have a smooth batter.
  2. In a skillet, heat a splash of olive oil over medium heat. Add 1/3 of the prepared batter, and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side, until slightly puffed and golden at the edges. Cook them in 3 batches and set aside.
  3. Mix the shaved fennel bulb with the lemon juice, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and a pinch of salt and pepper.
  4. Whisk together the mayo, minced fennel fronds, 1 minced garlic clove, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Thin it with a splash of water if necessary so you can drizzle it.
  5. To assemble, plate the socca on a platter, arrange the shaved fennel on top, with the cherry tomatoes, and drizzle over the prepared aïoli, any extra fennel fronds, and a sprinkling of flaky sea salt. Enjoy!

Note: To make this recipe vegan, simply omit the egg from the batter- your socca will rise slightly less but still delicious! Omit the aïoli or swap in your favorite vegan mayo.

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About the Author

Elizabeth Palmer Califano
Elizabeth is a graduate of Hamilton College and The French Culinary Institute, as well as an avid world traveler and dinner party hostess. For more information, visit her website: www.elizabethpalmerkitchen.com