Ah, the challenges of assembling a meal. Particularly vegetarian meals, because often there’s no focal point, but instead an amalgamation of various sides seeking harmony. Today I offer you a combination: three elements that are quite tasty alone, but perhaps not spectacular, yet together create a marvelous dinner.
Socca (also known as farinata, is a vegetarian staple I’ve been meaning to make for a while, and I would’ve done it much sooner had I realized quite how easy it is. Chickpea flour, water, a little oil, some time, and heat—very little labor. And so, so delicious.
Would your grandmother call this food? Either way, it’s definitely worth eating.
Other side note shareables: tips for container garden growing! Also, farmers are starting to use microbes (yep, the same organisms that are receiving accolades in the yogurt-kombucha-aged cheese-loving world) instead of pesticides! Keep working while we attempt to figure you out, nature.
The Creation of this meal Story: I had been thinking about socca, and then I got some beautiful purple and red radishes in my CSA this week, along with some mint, and figured radish salad would be a lovely fresh addition. I could be happy with that combination for myself, but I like to fill out the plate a little more when there are other people around (and also, leftovers). The little gray cells landed on lentils: easy, a flavorful accompaniment, but generally not terribly exciting as a main course. Here, they perform their role more than admirably, providing heft and spice and heartening out the other two dishes. As for the salad, the lemon on the radishes cuts their sharpness enough to enjoy a plateful, and the mint wonderfully brightens the warmth of the lentils when ensemble. All scooped up with aromatic socca, I was quite pleased, and I think you will be too.
Socca recipe from Mark Bittman, the rest I just threw together.
Socca, lentils, and lemon-mint radish salad Socca: 1 cup chickpea flour 1 cup lukewarm water Salt and pepper Rosemary 1/2 onion, if desired Red lentils, with plenty of spices: cardamom, cinnamon, cumin, turmeric, ginger Onions, chopped Oil 2 bunches radishes A few sprigs of mint 1 lemon Salt and pepper
If you have time to mix the batter for the socca ahead of time, do so. Put chickpea flour, salt, and pepper in a bowl, then add water slowly, whisking to avoid lumps. When smooth, add a couple tablespoons of olive oil and whisk again.
While that is sitting, cook the lentils: heat up dry spices until aromatic, then add oil and onions and cook until onions are soft. add lentils and stir until the lentils take on some color, but don’t let them burn—have water on hand. Add water, bring to a boil, then simmer until soft, around 20 minutes (red lentils disintegrate fairly quickly).
When ready to cook the socca, put a large cast iron pan in the oven and preheat to 450ºF. When hot, remove pan and add a little oil and some rosemary (you could also cook a few onions at this point, returning the pan to the oven until onions are brown, then adding them to the batter). Pour batter into hot pan (don’t forget oven mitts at any point in this process!) and cook for 10 or so minutes, until golden brown and set (actual length depends on how wide your pan is, which determines the thickness of the pancake; I admittedly burned mine a tad).
While the socca is cooking, wash and cut the radishes into quarters, or bite-size chunks depending on their size. Chop up mint and place both in a bowl. Squeeze the lemon (including pulp) over the radishes, add a little salt and pepper, toss, and taste. Adjust as needed.
Serve, and don’t worry if lemon juice from the radishes (it may even turn pink!) seeps into the lentils. Do try to avoid making the socca soggy though.