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

Southwest Salmon & Black Beans

This dish was the best way that I have ever had salmon prepared.  It’s zesty and flavorful, has a great variety of textures, and is super-healthy.  Grilling the fish avoids stinking heating up the house on these days of 90+ degrees and ridiculous humidity, and it allows it to get a great crisp on.

I can honestly say that I was weary of using all of the herbs called for in the dressing.  I love mint, but I love it in desserts, and sometimes it weirds me out to have it in a savory dish.  Well not this time.  The cilantro, basil and mint meld together and you taste none of them individually, but the combination is smooth and wonderful.  Now if I can only figure out how to use of the remaining 4 lbs. of mint in my back yard, I’ll be all set….

I opted to take creative liberties with the recipe that I followed (of course) and served the beans on the side with some jasmine rice that had been cooked in chicken broth.  It was probably unnecessary as both Neil and I were so stuffed by the end of this meal that is was silly, but I was initially worried that a piece of fish on top of lettuce wasn’t going to cut it with our appetites.

Ingredients:

1 ½  lb salmon

1 small onion, minced

1 small red bell pepper, diced 1/4 inch

4 medium cloves garlic pressed

1 TBS +  ½  cup chicken or vegetable broth

2 cups or 15 oz can black beans, rinsed & drained

1 ½  TBS ancho chili powder

2 cups chopped lettuce (like butter or romaine)

Dressing:

4 TBS fresh chopped cilantro

2 TBS fresh chopped mint

2 TBS fresh chopped basil

5 TBS fresh lemon juice

4 TBS olive oil

1 TBS chopped pepitas

salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Season salmon with salt and pepper and set aside
  • Heat 1 TBS broth in a skillet and when it begins to steam add the onion, bell pepper and garlic and sauté over a  medium heat for about 5 minutes
  • Add 1/2 cup broth, black beans, and ancho chili powder. Cook for another 10 minutes and season with salt and pepper to taste
  • While the beans are cooking, preheat your grill
  • In a bowl mix together cilantro, mint, basil, lemon juice, olive oil, pepitas, salt and pepper
  • Grill the salmon for about 10 minutes (your grill should be between 400 and 500 degrees)
  • Serve the salmon on a bed of lettuce, topped with the dressing, with beans on the side

J

Moroccan Eggplant with Garbanzo Beans

This is a vegetarian dish where there is so much going on flavor-wise, you never even realize that there’s no meat.  Sweet chunks of red bell pepper meet with tart pieces of eggplant and meld together in the spices for a fantastic stew that is rich in vitamin c and fiber.  The chewy little raisins reconstitute in the sauce and add yet another level of texture.

Ingredients:

1 large onion, cut in half and sliced thinly

5 medium cloves garlic, minced

1 medium red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch chunks

1 medium eggplant, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes

pinch of red pepper flakes

2 tsp turmeric

1/2 tsp garam masala

1 15 oz. can garbanzo beans, rinsed & drained

2 cups cooked lentils

1/2 cup tomato sauce

1-1/4 cups + 1 TBS chicken or vegetable broth

1/2 cup raisins (I used a variety of golden, Thompson & red flame)

1 TBS chopped fresh cilantro

salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Heat 1 TBS of broth in a large skillet and sauté the onion over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring frequently
  • Add garlic, red bell pepper, eggplant, garam masala, and turmeric

  • Stir to mix it up, and add remaining broth and tomato sauce
  • Stir again, cover, and cook over a medium-low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally
  • Add garbanzo beans, lentils, red chili flakes, and raisins and simmer for another 5 minutes
  • Season with salt and pepper. Serve topped with chopped cilantro

This recipe was inspired by a post on World’s Healthiest Foods.

J

Black Bean Soup

In my ongoing quest to discover recipes low in fat and high in protein, fiber and nutrients, I came across this one.  While it’s not necessarily what I would term “soup weather” in New England right now, this really doesn’t heat up the kitchen all that much, and it’s packed with flavor.  The yield on this recipe is such that Neil and I each had heaping bowls of soup for dinner and there was equally as much left over so I froze it (which will come in handy this weekend when I’m running around like a lunatic prepping food-stuffs to co-host a baby shower with my sister) so it will easily feed four.

Ingredients:

1 medium onion, minced

4 cloves garlic, chopped

2 TBS ancho chili powder

3 cups + 1 TBS chicken (or vegetable) broth

1 small zucchini, quartered and diced

1 cup chopped collard greens

1 15 oz can diced tomatoes

1 15 oz can black beans, rinsed

1 cup frozen yellow corn

1 4 oz can diced green chili

1 roasted red pepper

1 tsp dried Mexican oregano

1 tsp ground cumin

1/4 cup pepitas

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Heat 1 TBS broth in a medium soup pot. Sauté onion and garlic in broth over medium heat for about 5 minutes
  • Add red chili powder and mix to coat
  • Add broth, zucchini, collard greens, and tomatoes and cook for another 5 minutes
  • Add beans, corn, green chili, roasted red peppers, oregano, and cumin
  • Bring to a boil on high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes
  • Add chopped cilantro, pumpkin seeds, salt, and pepper

We decided to have a nice fresh green salad with our soup.  It was a great combination because there was something cool to pop in our mouths when the heat of the soup got to be a bit much.

J

Black & Pinto Bean Salad

Looking for an easy, low-fat side dish to bring to a party?  Or something that could be either a salad or a dip for tortilla chips?  Maybe a make-ahead dish that will be fantastic as left-overs for lunch for the week?  Or a vegetarian main?  I’ve got all of your bases covered.  Creamy beans, sweet red pepper chunks and corn niblets, crunchy pepitas, bangin’! cilantro flavor.

Ingredients:

½ cup minced onion

2 medium cloves garlic, pressed

1 15 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 15 oz can pinto beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup frozen corn, thawed

8 cherry tomatoes, quartered

½ cup diced red bell pepper

2 TBS pumpkin seeds

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

2 TBS extra virgin olive oil

3 TBS fresh lemon juice

salt and black pepper to taste

Directions:

  • Mince onions and press garlic and let sit for 5 minutes
  • Mix all ingredients together and serve

We had this as a side to some ribs that I’ll post about another day 😉  The salad really added to the color pallet.

Inspired by this post on World’s Healthiest Foods.

J