Socca

While flipping through my most recent edition of National Geographic Traveler I came across this 1-page article on Socca (chickpea flour crepes).  Seeing as the picture indicated that this Socca (which I had never heard of before) was a food, I decided to read on.  The ingredient list was simple: chickpea flour, water, olive oil, salt.  The intent seemed ideal: to be in rough shards, eaten with your fingers.  How could I go wrong?  So I tried it.

The batter is fairly thin- much like crepe.

Socca batter

Socca batter

There are several options for cooking these- under a broiler (in a fry pan), on a very hot baking stone, stove top.  I opted to make my first three on a baking stone, preheated in a 500 degree oven, and the last in a cast iron pan so that I could see the difference.

Broiled socca: crispy edges and nicely cooked center

Broiled socca: crispy edges and nicely cooked center

I served these as a gluten-free flatbread type of side to lemon-pepper chicken and green salads topped with crispy-fried mushrooms, roasted red peppers and cheddar cheese.

Socca makes a great app or accompaniment

Socca makes a great app or accompaniment

Ingredients:

2 cups chickpea flour
2 cups water
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, pressed
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 teaspoon salt (or more if you really want to taste it)

Directions:

  • Whisk together the chickpea flour, water, olive oil, garlic, thyme, and salt. Let stand for at least 30 minutes and up to several hours
  • Preheat your oven to 500 degrees with a baking stone in it
  • Give the batter a quick whisk and ladle a quarter of it into the skillet
  • Switch the oven to Broil and let it go for 5-10 minutes, until the top is browned and the socca is cooked in the middle (yet still tender) and crispy around the edges. Use a spatula to remove it from the stone
  • Repeat to make the additional flatbreads
Socca- ready for cutting

Socca- ready for cutting

Mushroom, White Bean and Collard Green Stew

Do you typically avoid vegetarian recipes because you assume that they will be bland, possibly lacking in protein, and just not your favorite type of fare?  Many folks do.  I would like to change your mind with this recipe.  It is flavorful,  hearty, colorful, packed with protein (17 grams per serving),  low in saturated fat, and just fantastic.  Tender mushrooms, creamy white beans, crunchy collards, a sweet and earthy base- I just can’t say enough wonderful things about this dish.  Try it- you’ll like it 😉

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 1/2 cups chicken broth, divided

1 large white onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, chopped

1/2 cup Marsala

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

4 teaspoons dried rosemary

1 tablespoon dried thyme

12 ounces fresh mushrooms (I used 6oz. of button and 6oz. of Portobello) trimmed and thinly sliced

2 teaspoons tamari

2 tablespoons whole spelt flour

4 tablespoons nutritional yeast

1 (15oz.) can Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained

1 bunch collard greens, tough stems removed and leaves thinly sliced

Salt & pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Bring a soup pot up to temp over a medium heat and add the olive oil
  • Add the onion and cook for about 5 minutes, or until you see the blaring white color begin to diminish
  • Add the garlic, red pepper flakes, rosemary & thyme and sauté for another 2 minutes (you will begin to really smell the herbs)
  • Add 1/2 cup broth and cook 7 to 8 minutes or until the onions are all tender
  • Stir in the Marsala, turn up the heat to medium-high and cook about 2 minutes or until the wine evaporates
  • Add the mushrooms and reduce the heat to medium, cover and cook for 5 minutes or until the mushrooms release their liquid and start to get tender, stirring once
  • Stir in remaining 1 3/4 cups broth and bring to a simmer over medium heat
  • While that’s warming up, in a small bowl whisk together tamari, flour, nutritional yeast and 1/4 cup of hot broth to make a thick paste
  • Whisk (do not attempt to stir with a spoon no matter how good you think you are as you will end up with lumps which will cook into dumplings- trust me) the paste into the simmering broth mixture, stirring constantly
  • Bring the stew back to a simmer and cook for a minute, whisking constantly
  • Stir in the beans and greens, cover and cook for 5 minutes
  • Season to taste with salt & pepper and serve

We chose to have our stew with a nice loaf of French country bread baked by El Jardin and purchased at the Northampton Tuesday Market (which is still on through next week).  A sourdough loaf with whole grains and toasted sesame seeds on top.

This recipe was adapted from one by Whole Foods Market.

Squash Soup with White Beans and Kale

Well, here in New England we are mostly all back online from the October snow storm that broke our trees into pieces.  Friends and family have been keeping their frozen goods in coolers, heating water in beer brewing equipment, and cooking on gas grills for a week or more.  On the flip side of all of the stress and anxiety caused by lack of heat and power, folks really pulled together, reached out to one another, shared their homes, their showers, hot meals.  Out of the bad came some good.

This recipe is good for New Englanders this week  on two counts: 1) it’s vegetarian, so if you lost all of your meats in the great non-electric thaw you can still make dinner and 2) if you’ve still got CSA veggies coming in (like me), this is a great way to use them.  A bit of herbs (dried can certainly be substituted for fresh), a can of beans, a container of broth/stock, and your squash & kale and you’ve got a hearty soup that’s packed with flavor and nutrients.  If you’re still cooking on the grill, and you’ve got a side-burner, you’re in luck.

Ingredients

2 sprigs parsley

2 sprigs thyme

2 bay leaves

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 yellow onion, chopped

6 cloves garlic, chopped

1 cup apple cider

1 quart chicken broth

4 cups chopped kale

2 cups white beans, rinsed & drained

Salt and pepper to taste

1 pound peeled and seeded winter squash, cut into 1-inch chunks (I used a combination of acorn & butternut)

Directions

  • Heat the olive oil in your soup pot over a medium heat. Add the onion and herbs and cook until the onions are just beginning to soften
  • Add the garlic and continue to cook until the onions are translucent
  • Add the cider and broth and bring to a boil
  • Add the kale, beans, salt and pepper.  Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes
  • Add the squash and cook until just tender, about 10-20 minutes more depending on which varieties of squash you used

This recipe was inspired by a post on Whole Foods market’s site.

Polenta “pizza” with Caramelized Onions and Gorgonzola

Not that anyone ever needs an alternative to pizza, but if you were looking to go about it in a very different way- this could be your answer.  You use polenta to make the base, rather than a standard white flour crust and I thought it rather lovely.  In fact, instead of serving this as a meal, you could cut the polenta with a biscuit round once it’s set and make minis to serve as an app at a party.

Because there is warm and bubbly gorgonzola cheese on the top, the polenta has no need for the likes of milk or cream and is made simply with water.  For an additional twist, you could cook it with chicken or vegetable broth instead.

Ingredients:

1 ½  cups polenta

5 cups water

1 tablespoon salted butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 medium onions, cut in half and sliced thin

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon fresh thyme

4 oz. gorgonzola cheese, crumbled

salt and pepper

Directions:

  • Heat the butter and olive oil in a cast iron skillet and sauté the onions over a low heat  until they are light brown in color, stirring occasionally (this will take upwards of 30 minutes)
  • Bring salted water to a boil in a medium sauce pan
  • When the water comes to a boil, add the polenta slowly- while stirring, and reduce the heat to low
  • Continue stirring and cook for about 10 minutes, until it thickens
  • Spread the thick porridge into a 9″ tart pan and set it aside
  • Preheat the oven to 350°F
  • Add the garlic to the caramelized onions and continue to sauté for another minute, stirring constantly
  • Season with salt and pepper, add the chopped thyme and mix
  • Spread the onion mixture over polenta and top with gorgonzola
  • Bake this in the oven for about 10 minutes, then move under a broiler for 2 minutes to put the final bubble on the cheese, and the last crisp on the onions

This recipe founds its inspiration at World’s Healthiest Foods.