Chickpea flour has to be one of my favourite gluten-free flours out there. It has a lot of character (don’t even try tasting it raw, by the way) but it is, at the same time, very versatile. I make crêpes with it, savoury pancakes, use it in small amounts in cake batters (its high protein content mimics that of eggs, making it the perfect egg replacer) and many other preparations.
It wasn’t long ago that I’ve heard of socca, a chickpea flatbread typical of Nice, France. I came across a recipe for it in Ottolenghi’s Plenty, but haven’t tried it out as it called for egg whites. However, and after some research on the internet, I found out that most socca’s recipes don’t use eggs at all, requiring only three basic ingredients (chickpea flour, water and salt) and, optionally, a few dried herbs and olive oil. In this recipe, I used za’atar to flavour the batter because it goes well with the pesto and all, but you could definitely build different flavour profiles by adding different spices and herbs.
Regarding the slow roasted tomatoes: I quite like raw tomatoes, but I like them even more when slow roasted. They’re sweet and tangy at the same time and can totally transform an otherwise boring leafy salad into something out of this world.
The recipe(s) for the slow roasted tomatoes and the pesto make way more than what you will need for this particular dish but that’s the point, really, so that you have plenty to play around and use in different meals (salads, sandwiches, and so on).
Slow Roasted Tomatoes + Arugula-Tarragon Pesto over Socca
slow roasted tomatoes:
- 1 kg / 15 medium sized vine ripened tomatoes, quartered
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 4 garlic cloves, lightly crushed
- 40 g / 1/3 cup laminated almonds, preferably toasted
- 30 g / ½ cup packed arugula
- 30 g / ½ cup packed arugula
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 60 ml / 1/3 cup olive oil
- 130 g / 1 cup chickpea flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ teaspoons za’atar
- 250 ml / 1 cup water
- 1 teaspoon olive oil, to grease the pan
- extra arugula and silvered almonds, to assemble
- Pre-heat the oven to 140 C / 284 F. Line a large baking tray with greaseproof paper. Add the tomatoes, salt, olive oil, balsamic vinegar and garlic to a bowl and mix to combine. Arrange the tomatoes, cut side up, on the baking tray and slow roast for 1 ½ to 2 hours. They’re done when wilted and lightly brown around the edges.
- For the pesto, finely chop, separately, the almonds, arugula and tarragon. Mix everything together in a bowl and add the salt, garlic clove, lemon juice and olive oil. Mix well to combine. Have a taste and adjust the seasonings if needed be. Alternatively, and instead of chopping up the ingredients by hand, you can use a food processor to blend them up.
- Raise the oven temperature to 200 C / 390 F.
- Sift the chickpea flour, salt and za’atar to a bowl. Slowly pour in the water, whisking vigorously to avoid any lumps. Let the batter sit, covered, for 30 minutes to 1 hour at room temperature.
- In the meantime, grease one 25 cm / 10 inch round baking dish with olive oil and put it in the middle third of the oven for at least 10minutes. After that time take, very carefully, the pan out of the oven and pour the batter into it. Return the pan to the oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the chickpea pancake is golden brown on top. You can finish it (as I did) on the broiler for the last 5 minutes of cooking to encourage even browning.
- To assemble, cut the socca into 4 or 6 equal slices. Spread the pesto on each of the slices, add a generous amount of arugula on top as well as 2 to 3 tomato quarters. Drizzle a bit more pesto on top of the tomatoes and finish off with plenty of toasted silvered almonds.