November is a month of many moments including bonfire night, fireworks and, of course, the start of Christmas shopping for many! But living in Monaco, we have another reason to celebrate this month, Princes Day – or National Day, as it is also known.
The date is decided by the reigning Prince and is usually the day of the Saint they were named after. National Day, this year November 19, is a public holiday in Monaco and celebrated with fireworks and mass at St Nicholas Cathedral.
For an expat in Monaco, it’s a pleasure to witness this historic tradition and join in on the celebrations of the Principality. As everything comes back to food for me, National Day provided the perfect inspiration for this month’s recipe. I began to think about new foods I’ve come across since moving here and one of the first things that came to my mind was socca.
My first experience with this pancake-type food was at Monaco’s Christmas fair (this year in the Port from December 2 Dec until January 2, 2017). I came to learn that socca was a savoury food made from chickpea flour and as my interest in health and nutrition blossomed, it soon become a dish that I made at home for myself with the kids always adding in some exciting variations!!
Chickpea flour is also known as pois chiches (in French) or garbanzo bean flour. You can find it easily in all the organic (bio) stores in and around Monaco. The recipe itself couldn’t be easier – one part flour: one part water, a little olive oil and a pinch of salt – yet it’s highly nutritious due to chickpeas, which are a high protein and fibre food. Chickpea flour is gluten free and made from just one ingredient – chickpeas that are either raw or roasted before grinding into flour.
Five Fast Facts about benefits chickpea flour
- Chickpeas are a great source of dietary fibre, packing in 12.5 grams per every one cup of cooked chickpeas. For a flour, this is highly nutritious when you consider that refined flours have been stripped of nutrients and are very low in fibre
- Chickpeas are nutrient dense and help to improve heart health by balancing unhealthy cholesterol levels and offering protection against heart disease.
- High-fibre foods like chickpeas are low in calories especially as your body doesn’t digest carbs from fibre therefore this can aid in weight loss.
- Chickpea flour contains a form of complex carbohydrates – aka starch – that the body is able to slowly digest and use for energy over time which then helps to stabilise the blood sugar and can even help with the prevention of diabetes.
- Chickpeas are gluten-free and highly beneficial for the digestive system and immune response.
Since my introduction to socca years ago, I’ve had a lot of fun experimenting with various recipes by adding in herbs, spices – and even grated cheese for my children; I’ve made super-size socca and mini ones (again for my children).
Try this delicious socca variation and let us know how you get on. Share with us your favourite traditional Monegasque foods on Instagram monacolife_ and naomis_kitchen. Head to Bouchon to try my delicious beetroot hummus Buddha Bowl on the lunchtime weekday menu.
Naomi’s Spicy Socca
1 cup (250 ml) water
1 cup (130 g) chickpea flour
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil, plus a little more for cooking
2 sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped
2 small spring onions, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1 tbsp basil, chopped
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp of chilli powder (use less if yours is hot!)
pinch of salt
Naomi’s TIP: For a kiddie-friendly version, try the basic recipe of chickpeas, water, olive oil and salt and add 1/4 grated cheese. We love Comte or Emmental.
- Prepare the chickpea batter. Whisk together chickpea flour, water and olive oil in a small bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir well. Leave to rest for at least 1/2 hour to give the flour time to absorb the water.
- Add a little olive oil (1 tbsp) to a large pan and heat to medium heat (don’t heat too high to a point that the oil smokes).
- Pour in half the batter, tilt the pan so the batter coats the entire surface of the pan.
- Cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until you see the top of the socca begin to blister and brown. Either use a large spatula to flip the socca or put under a hot grill for a few minutes until browned. The socca should be fairly flexible in the middle but crispy on the edges.
- Slice and Serve. Repeat with any remaining batter.
This recipe should make 2 individual socca, depending on the size of your pan.
Join Naomi’s Mamma’s SOS workshop on Wednesday November 16 at the Monte Carlo Munchkins Club. Learn how to combat fussy-eating kids with some deliciously healthy recipes. Non-members can also attend. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more info and to register.