One thing I'm always in the mood for is pizza. Good pizza. Like a child, I wish I could eat it every day. If it weren't for the obvious changes to my physique that a daily pizza diet would trigger, I probably would. That's why I made it my mission to find the best homemade gluten-free, vegan alternative to one of my favorite foods, and I did just that. Prepare to have your mind (and your palette) blown when you try these savory socca pizzettes.
What makes these pizzettes so special is the "crust" or "flatbread" base called socca. A specialty of Provence (and Liguria, where it's called farinata), socca is made with only a few ingredients: chickpea flour, water and olive oil. You can also add your favorite herbs to the mixture, such as rosemary or thyme. Once you combine the ingredients to make a loose batter, bake it in the oven until it forms a blistered crust that imparts a unique smokiness to the base. After only a few minutes, the result is a savory chickpea base that can be sliced and eaten on its own (like a chip or pita) or with your favorite dips and sauces. You can also make a stovetop version if that's more your style, but you won't get the same crispy, smoky effect.
As with traditional pizza, the crust is the foundation and therefore it's important, but so are the toppings. Socca is no different. You can create any number of amazing combinations with ingredients such as roasted red peppers, mushrooms, caramelized onions, artichoke hearts, tomato sauce, pesto or a cashew cheese sauce to name a few.
Fig, Arugula & Caramelized Onion Socca Pizzette
makes to 4 5-inch socca pizzettes
For the base
2 cups chickpea flour (gram flour)
2 cups water
1 sprig fresh rosemary, chopped
1 tablespoon fresh garlic, crushed
sea salt & black pepper to taste
For the toppings
4 large figs, quartered
2 cups arugula
1/2 red onion, caramelized
2 cloves garlic
4 cups Daiya mozzarella shreds (vegan)
Whisk together all of the ingredients for the base and let it stand for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.
When ready to make, set an oven rack six inches below the oven broiler and turn on the broiler. Pre-heat a 10-inch cast skillet or other heavy bottomed pan for five minutes, then remove it and coat the skillet with a teaspoon of olive oil. Whisk the batter again, and pour a quarter of the batter into the skillet. Note: I prefer a thinner, crispy socca, so I put in a little less batter to make it as think as I like it. As with any new recipe, you'll have to experiment to find the consistency that you prefer.
Broil for 5-10 minutes (check the broiler to watch your progress to avoid burning) until the top is browned and the socca is fully cooked, yet soft in the middle and crispy around the edges. Remove the socca with a spatula and let rest, while you prepare the next one.
Top the flatbreads with the cheese and return to the broiler for 30 seconds, just to melt the cheese. Remove from the oven, and top each pizzette evenly with the arugula, figs and caramelized onions. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste and serve.