There is nothing more rewarding than making a delicious meal out of the little odd's and end's kicking around the kitchen. Although I work in a health food store and can easily pick up whatever I want after work, sometimes I like to challenge myself by using up whatever I have at home. Now, I'm not one of those people that has a well stocked pantry, mainly because I tend to avoid pre-packaged and canned food and I only buy fruits and vegetables, as needed for a recipe. I could probably tell you everything in my fridge and cupboards, meaning the list isn't very long. So, the challenge of making something out of nothing isn't always easy.
It's especially not easy when you didn't make it grocery shopping last weekend, pulled your back out, have been out of work for several days and can't make it to the store. The challenge of cooking is also there. It has to be made it less than 20 minutes, and not involve any heavy lifting.
Luckily, I had some farmers market loot leftover from the weekend so I was able to throw together a couple of decent salads. I'm still thanking sweet baby Jesus that I remembered to pick up some eggs at the market because they probably saved me from near starvation. Poached, scrambled, fried or hardboiled, served with some toast, and you've got one hell of a half assed meal.
When I attempted to throw something together last night, things were looking slim. REALLLLL slim. Of course my husband volunteered to get me whatever I wanted at the store, but I was cranky and indecisive and told him I would find something around the house. He ended the call with a reluctant ohhhh kayyyyy, knowing there wasn't a dang thing in the house to eat.
So, I accepted this challenge, and dammit I won.
I wanted something high in carbs. You gotta coat your stomach with starch when you're downing pain killers and muscle relaxants like it's your job. All I had kicking around was a stale loaf of sourdough and I had already had toast for breakfast.
Then a lightbulb went off.... SOCCA!
Huh, you say...
Socca is a chickpea flour pancake cooked in a skillet, much like a crepe. Basically, you combine chickpea flour, water, salt, pepper and a little olive oil to make a thin batter. Let it rest, then pour it into a hot cast iron pan and bake until lightly browned. It's kinda chewy, kinda crispy, and really delicious.
I usually eat socca straight up, cut into pieces drizzled with olive oil with flurries of black pepper and flaky salt, but I've also seen it used as a "pizza crust" all over the internet, so I figured I would try something new.
Since I primarily follow a vegetarian diet, I always have a variety of nuts or seeds in the house, for snacking, adding to salads or for making my own nut butters or nut cheeses. Inspired by this recipe from Love and Lemons, I decided to whip up a quick almond spread to use as a base. Almonds, garlic, lemon, a little miso and nutritional yeast and some fresh herbs.
I topped it with some quickly sauteed leeks that were lodged in the back of my fridge and the last of the pea shoots from the farmers market and I had dinner.
Socca with Leeks and Herbed Almond Spread (serves 2-4)
Slightly adapted from from Love and Lemons
1 c. chickpea flour
1 c. lukewarm water
1 t. sea salt
1/4 t. cracked pepper
2 T. extra virgin olive oil, plus more for cooking the socca
1 clove garlic, grated
Mark Bittman will talk you through making socca here. You can see I used his recipe, but omitted the onion and rosemary and added garlic. This will either make one thick 12" round or two thin 10" rounds.
Almond Herb Spread:
1 c. almonds, blanched or soaked overnight, skins removed*
1/2 garlic clove, coarsely chopped
1 t. miso paste
Juice and zest of one small lemon
2 t. nutritional yeast
1/2-3/4 c. water (less water if you soaked your nuts, more if you blanched them or used them raw)
1 T. olive oil
1/2 c. mixed chopped herbs, I used scallions and parsley, but I inagine dill or chives would be good too
salt & pepper, to taste
To blanch almonds, bring a small pot of water to a boil. Add almonds, cook for 30 seconds and drain. When cool enough to handle, slide the skins off with your fingers. If you are planning on making this the following day, you can also soak almonds overnight in enough water to cover, drain and rub the skins off.
Place all ingredients (except the water and herbs) in a food processor and blend. Slowly stream in water (you may not use all of it) until the mixture is well combined, scraping down the sides as needed. Transfer mixture to a bowl and stir in 1/4 c. herbs, saving the remaining 1/4 c. for topping the socca.
2 Small leeks, sliced into rounds
Heat a little olive oil in a sautee pan. Add leeks, a pinch of salt and some cracked pepper and cook for a couple minutes until soft.
After your socca has cooled a bit (about 5 minutes), slather on some of the almond herb spread (you won't use all of it). Top with the sauteed leeks, some fresh herbs and pea shoots or your favorite sprouts.