Soccas South American Style

April 7th, 2007 yum Posted in Cooking Light, French, Low Carb, South American, Vegetarian 13 Comments »

soccayum.jpg Some time back on the Celiac Bay Area yahoo group , there was a buzz around a new restaurant called “Socca Oven” that opened in Berkeley, California. A chef in the area had opened a sister restaurant to his flagship restaurant Gregoire- but the best part was that everything at this new restaurant was gluten free! The concept was based on the French Socca, “a local speciality of southeastern French cuisine, particularly in and around the city of Nice. It is very similar to the northern Italian farinata, as its primary ingredients are chickpea flour and olive oil.” (Source: Wikipedia) This crepe type flatbread is naturally gluten free, healthy, and friendly to the low carb diet. The restaurant also catered to dairy free dining, with no dairy toppings. We were all excited to try the restaurant, which turned out to be located in a small gourmet food court with outdoor dining. Reports came back- most of us loved the socca crepe itself, although some of the toppings left a little something to be desired. Personally, I tried the rather bland bay scallop topping and the vegetable topping, which was topped with Aioli, a mayonnaise type of sauce. Despite my ambivalence towards the toppings, I loved the chance to eat a gluten free pizza hot out of the brick oven at a real, live restaurant. I was greatly anticipating trying other toppings, such as the favorably reviewed salt cod topping, when the restaurant abruptly closed. Luckily in the meantime, members of the Celiac Bay group had been experimenting with making their own soccas, with delicious results. GlutenFreebytheBay came up with an especially delicious version of the socca, and blogged about it. After making my own, I found that I loved the easy to make chickpea crepe topped with delicious hummus, roasted vegetables, and kalamata olives. This layering of chickpea on chickpea creates a high energy, high protein powerhouse dish that is extremely tasty and satisfying. Ever since the socca has been part of my cooking repertoire. The other day I was reading though a recent issue of Cooking light magazine, and came across a recipe for a wheat flatbread topped with a black bean spread. Of course, their flatbread recipe was out- but it occurred to me that a chickpea socca just might work with a tasty black bean topping. So, I got busy with my cast iron pan. These (modified) recipes are the delicious results. The best part is that this recipe is very flexible and easily dairy and egg free. For a dairy free socca, I recommend adding avocados and pine nuts for a truly luxurious dish. Enjoy!

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Black Bean Parsley Topping
Ingredients
Black Bean Sauce:
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 15 oz can low sodium black beans (OR 2 cups homemade black beans, well rinsed)
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes (with or without green chilies)
1 or 2 chipotle chilies, deseeded, in GF adobe sauce (read label!)

Good with the following “pizza” toppings:
1 red bell pepper (or 1/2 jar roasted red peppers)
kalamata olives, sliced
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese or other sharp cheese (optional)
1/2 cup canned fiesta style corn(optional)
1/2 chopped avocado (optional)
1/4 cup pine nuts or pumpkin seeds

Cilantro Parsley drizzle:
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup chopped cilantro (you can change proportions of herbs to taste- I used way less soap, I mean cilantro, than parsley)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
2 tsp minced garlic

Directions
Blend black bean sauce ingredients in food processor or blender.

To prepare Red Bell Pepper for toppings: broil red peppers (or roast over open flame until charred on all sides), then place in thick plastic bag (freezer quality) for about 10 minutes. Remove skin, then slice or chop (depending on your taste) and reserve.

To make “pizza”, select pizza crust of your choice. I used a chickpea socca because it is so thin and crispy. I seasoned it with cumin seeds and marjoram. I removed it from the oven after 10 minutes rather than the usual 12 minutes, and topped it with a layer of black bean sauce. I then placed any toppings which taste good hot- the optional cheese, red pepper, kalamata olives, pine nuts, and put it back in the oven for a few minutes until the cheese is melted. Put under broiler for a minute or so if desired. (Watch that the socca doesn’t burn!) After you take it out of the oven, drizzle some of the Cilantro Parsley vinagrette on it, any other cold toppings such as avocado, cut, and serve. Enjoy!

Celiacbayarea Group Soccas
Ingredients
1 cup garbanzo bean flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup warm water
2 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 diced onion
freshly ground pepper
Additional olive oil

For South American flavor:
1 tsp marjoram or oregano
1/2 tsp cumin seed

For Mediterranean flavor:
minced fresh rosemary (needles from 1 stick)

Directions
Heat cast iron pan in oven set to 450 degrees.

Mix bean flour with salt, whisk in warm water and olive oil. Let the
batter sit for at least 30 minutes, then add diced
onion, freshly ground pepper to taste and seasonings (minced rosemary OR marjoram and cumin ETC). Whisk one more time.

Dribble a small amount of olive oil in hot cast iron pan and spread
around to cover using basting brush. Pour about half the batter in
pan. Swirl the pan so the “Crepe” covers the entire surface of the
pan. Make sure it’s not too thick- the thinner the better! Place cast
iron pan back in oven for 12-15 minutes and edges are crisp but not
burnt. Remove from oven, separate crepe from pan with a metal spatula (so it’s easy to remove later), baste top lightly with olive oil and place any toppings you’d like to have heated- place under broiler for about 3 minutes, watching closely to make sure it doesn’t burn.

Cut into triangles with a pizza cutter and enjoy. If toppings make it
messy, fold over the triangle to eat. Yum! I’d give it a 10/10, it was
that good. DH gave it a 7/10, saying it was good for a socca. (Soccas
aren’t totally his thing).

Example of toppings:
I basted the socca with olive oil and put some kale on top and
broiled it until the kale wilted. Then I took it out of the oven and
topped it with homemade hummus, sliced black olives, and chopped
organic tomatoes. Totally yummy. For the second one I added pine nuts
and fresh basil. Next time I’ll try it with basil or sundried tomato
pesto….

Or, you could do a traditional “pizza” with veggies, meat, and even
cheese. Basically, the sky is the limit.

Notes
On a GF board I’m on (http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/celiacbayarea/) people have been experimenting with making soccas, a French “pizza” made from chickpea flour. This recipe would probably be great for diabetics or anyone doing low carb diets- and is egg, soy, and dairy free as well.
—————————————-
I was heavily influenced by GlutenFreeBytheBay’s post. Her blog entry about the socca experience can be found here:

http://glutenfreebay.blogspot.com/2006/10/joy-of-socca.html

I love her hummus topping! The woman’s a culinary genius, I tell ya.

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Light and Flavorful Mexican Soup- with dumplings!

March 31st, 2007 yum Posted in Cooking Light, Low Cal, Mexican, Vegetarian 4 Comments »

Forbidden RiceI decided to make a healthy, lazy weekday dinner recipe for a tomato Chickpea soup with dumplings from the March issue of Cooking light . I love soups, but for some reason I rarely make them. This recipe was vegetarian, though, and it had the added bonus of dumplings- which always intrigue me. And the recipe was already gluten free! What more could I ask for. I decided to serve it with some healthy, whole grain rice- Lundberg’s mysterious black Japonica, a Gourmet field blend of Black and Mahogany rice. Sounded good to me! But what is black rice, you may ask. Good question. Wikipedia has a great blurb about it.

“Black rice is one of several black-colored heirloom plants producing rice variants such as Indonesian Black Rice, forbidden rice, or wild rice. High in nutritional and medicinal value, forbidden rice is rich in iron and considered a blood tonifier. This grain is high in fiber and has a deep, nutty taste. The deep color of black forbidden rice, and the deep purple color when cooked, suggests the presence of phytonutrients. It has a relatively high mineral content (including iron) and, like most rice, supplies several important amino acids.”

corndumplings.jpgIt goes on to explain that black rice was originally reserved for the ancient court of the Chinese Emperor, “and since it was probably shared with the emperor’s consorts, as well as other members of his family and the court at his discretion it was thus called forbidden rice.” (source: Wikipedia) Since I’m sure mahogany rice can’t compete with anything called Forbidden Rice, let’s ignore it for now. The cool thing was, as it simmered, the whole blend intensified in color so it looked like it was simmering in black ink, and by the time I was ready to serve it, it was a uniform, beautiful black color. Mmm… forbidden rice. And it went perfectly with the healthy, seasonal soup. And nothing is better than fishing dumplings out of soup and chomping them.

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Mexican Tomato- Bean Soup with Corn Dumplings
Soup  Corn  Mexican  
Ingredients
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 tbsp chili powder (I used Whole Foods brand)
2 tsp crushed garlic (or minced)
2 cups veggie broth (Or GF veg boullion, or homemade broth)
1 cup water
1/2 tsp dried oregano or marjoram
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 15 oz cans chickpea or 2 cups homemade chickpeas (drained, rinsed)
1 14.5 oz can no salt added diced tomatoes, undrained

Dumplings:
1/3 cup masa harina or cornmeal
1/8 tsp salt
3 tbsp hot water
1 tsp olive oil

Other ingredients:
2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro (or less, optional)
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
1/4 cup (1 oz) crumbled queso fresco OR Cotija cheese

Directions
Heat oil in dutch oven over medium-high heat. Saute onion 3 minutes or until soft. Add chili powder and garlic, saute for 30 more seconds. Add broth and ingredients through tomatoes, bring to a boil, and then cover, lower heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

To make dumplings, combine masa harina and salt. Add hot water and oil, stir until you have a soft, somewhat dry dough. Divide dough into little balls- try to make 24 if possible. The smaller the dumplings, the better. Add dumplings to soup and cook uncovered for 3 minutes until dumplings float. Stir in cilantro and juice. Ladle 1 cup soup into 4 bowls, and top with queso fresco or other crumbled cheese.

Notes
215 calories, Fat 5.5g
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