The panic that sets in when you go gluten free should never be underestimated. In a society where most of our convenience and comfort foods are based upon gluten grains, you find yourself craving everything you ever ate with wheat in it, from Yorkshire puddings and oven hot crispy croissants to just cooked crepes.
Rest assured: whether you're just cutting gluten out for a while or if it's something you have to do for the long haul, there's a whole new gluten free world out there when it comes to grains and seeds that will bind in much the same way as wheat. Buckwheat has long been used by the French for their Gallettes and gram, or chickpea, flour is another, used widely across India and Northern Africa to bind everything from Onion Bargis to this Socca recipe.
Socca, like pissaladiere, can be found in Nice, France and uses the city's close connection to North Africa for its inspiration. Turmeric, chickpea flour and olive oil are combined with water and served simply with green salad, onion, parsley or as I like it, olive tapenade.
This recipe came along from the super talented Jourdan Bourke, aka the Guilt Free Gourmet. and it will cheer up any rainy day or winter lunch with its punchy, earthy Mediterranean flavours. Once you get the hang of making the batter and figuring out its cooking times, it's incredibly easy.
Socca from The Guilt Free Gourmet by Jordan and his nutritionist sister Jessica Bourke
1 cup plus 2 tbsp gram/chickpea flour
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1 red onion, freshly diced
Handful pitted black and green olives, chopped into small chunks
Good handful chopped parsley
1. To make the socca, sift the gram flour into a bowl and add 1/2 tsp salt and the turmeric. Slowly add 12/3 cups water, whisking quickly all the time until the water has been added, breaking up any lumps as you go. Add 3tbsp olive oil and stir.
2. Heat a little oil in a non stick frying pan until hot. Pour a ladleful of batter into the pan, swirling it so the mixture spreads to the edges. Reduce the heat to low-medium and cook gently. It takes a good 6-8 minutes on the first side. Resist the temptation to stick your spatula underneath until the edges have dried out and the middle has tiny little bubbles. At this point, take the pan and shake it from side to side. The pancake should move but if it sticks you can help it along with a spatula. However if it doesn't budge at all, leave it another minute then try again. Flip the pancake and cook for a further 1-2 minutes. Repeat until you've used all the batter, wrapping each finished pancake in parchment paper and keeping them warm in a low oven.
3. For the topping, liberally scatter the olives, parsley and onion over the pancakes, season with a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice.
4. Cut the pancakes into wedges, as they do in the South of France, or you can roll them into big cigars. Hummous on top works well too.