Vegan MoFo 19: Carrot-Parsnip Soccattata

Socca: the chickpea pancake invading every vegan blogger’s kitchen. The gals at Pure 2 Raw first introduced me and many others to the garbanzo beany heavenliness, but since then, I’ve seen socca cropping up on a vast majority of my RSS feeds from YumUniverse’s Sweet and Savory Pumpkin Socca to The Vegan Chickpea’s Socca with Shallots and Onions to Sketch-Free Vegan Eating’s Green Pea Alfredo Socca Pizza to xGFx’s Socca Pizza with Kale and Red Onions to…the list continues on (and you can see how enthusiastic about discovering new socca recipes! We’re all one in the same, we vegan bloggers).

The bottom line? Nobody doesn’t like socca. And this time, a vastly healthier food can use that catchy slogan! (A certain woman’s white bread, anyone?) Lately, I’ve been experimenting with different methods, cooking times, and fillings for socca and so far, I prefer the “frittata” method (rather, the aptly named “soccattata”), introduced by Olives for Dinner: caramelize onions, saute in a mix of other veggies, pour into a circular baking dish coated in olive oil, add the chickpea flour batter, and bake for 20 minutes at 400°F. Obviously, this non-recipe allows for a ridiculous amount of variation, perfectly suited to fit almost anyone’s specifit tastes. A tiny fraction of the endless possibilities for socca mix-ins:

  • Spinach and cherry tomatoes.
  • Finely chopped broccoli and lemon zest.
  • Kale, garlic, raisins, and pine nuts.
  • Shredded brussels sprouts.
  • Quinoa or any other grain.
  • Sweet potato/pumpkin puree and tahini. (Inspired by my latest culinary epiphany.)

Last night, a socca craving bombarded me. I spotted a head of Peacock broccoli first in the refrigerator but, upon careful consideration, couldn’t select a vegetable with a complementing flavor to accompany the little crucifer. The carrots then spoke to me: “Grate us along with a parsnip and caramelize us with the onions!” How could I say no to their adorable beta-caroteniness? The socca that ensued amalgamated as a sweet, succulent, wonderfully autumnal dish and the addition of thyme would only intensify its already tantalizing flavors. (Unfortunately, I discovered an empty thyme jar in my pantry while concocting this recipe…I guess I’ll just have to make it again! Darn.)

Carrot-Parsnip Soccattata (Gluten Free, Nut Free, Soy Free)

Serves 1-4.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup garbanzo bean flour
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1/2 small onion, very thinly sliced
  • 1 medium carrot, grated
  • 1 medium parsnip, grated
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme, optional

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Heat 1 tsp oil in a small non-stick pan over medium heat. Add the onions and saute for about 10 minutes, then turn down the heat to its lowest setting and allow the onions to caramelize for 15-30 minutes, without stirring, until golden brown but not burnt.

Meanwhile, whisk the garbanzo bean flour and water together in a bowl and set aside.

When the onions have sufficiently caramelized, turn up the heat to medium and add the grated carrots, parsnips, and thyme if using. Saute for 10-20 minutes or until lightly browned and fairly juicy.

Pour the remaining 2 tsp olive oil into a 9-inch round baking dish. Layer the carrot-parsnip-onion mixture on the bottom and pour the chickpea batter on top. Slide into the oven and bake for 20 minutes.

Recipe submitted to Wellness Weekend.

Meal Checklist: Protein—chickpea flour. Whole Grain—none. (As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t feel the need to serve a whole grain when devouring an entire pan of socca.) Vegetables—onions, carrots, parsnips. Leafy Green—side of Peacock broccoli.

Local Ingredients: Rosso Milano onions and Peacock broccoli from Jones Valley Farm, carrots from JenEhr Family Farm, parsnips from Driftless Organics.

Comment Provoking Questions: Have you jumped onto the socca bandwagon? (Because if you haven’t, you would truly enrich your life by doing so.) If so, what is your favorite socca recipe? Do you like to add veggies/grains/herbs straight to the batter or pile them on top like a pizza?

Until next time, Ali.

Vegan MoFo 12: Soccattata with Caramelized Onions, Spinach, and Tomatoes

My numerous apologies for dangling those socca pictures right in front of your face without a recipe to satisfy your instantaneous craving—I had just returned home from gymnastics and required a quick-fix to fulfill the Vegan MoFo goal of everyday blogging before collapsing into bed. A quick recap…

 

Anywho! Boy howdy, have I got an absolutely scrumptious round of recipe experimentation for you. This recipe for Soccattata (socca and frittata merged into one nummy dish), hails from the ever-classy Olives for Dinner blog and offered a complete culinary revelation: vegan frittatas no longer need rely on tofu! Here’s my beef (anti-pun?) with tofu frittatas—they’re basically glorified tofu scrambles. Frankly, such a concept is quite the oxymoron since I turn to tofu scrambles for a comforting meal. Thus, why overly fancify the simple yet wonderfully satisfying vegan culinary staple of scrambled tofu? Nuh-uh, ain’t happening.

However, thanks to Olives for Dinner, I discovered chickpea flour as a glorious substitute for eggs. Well…perhaps not discovered. Ricki Heller at Diet, Dessert, and Dogs also utilizes the ground garbanzos to create an eggy texture in her vegan Green Eggs and Ham recipe (which I’m dying to whip up). Even though I certainly can’t claim credit for inventing the chickpea-flour-as-eggs concept, I can praise it! And praise it, I will. Praise in the form of devouring an entire pan of soccattata by myself and relishing every moment.

While one usually bakes socca to firmness for about 30-40 minutes, the chickpea pancake need only bake for a mere 20 minutes to achieve the moist, decadent, and slightly runny texture of eggs. You could certainly augment this recipe with different vegetables, the addition of spices, or adding more olive oil to suit your tastes. I only implore of you one unchangeable element of the soccatta—PLEASE include the caramelized onions! They truly elevate the dish to catastrophic scrumptiousness.

Recipe Experimentation: Soccattata with Caramelized Onions, Spinach, and Tomatoes—Adapted from Olives for Dinner.

Tweaks:

  • Omitted salt.
  • Omitted olives. (Why don’t I enjoy olives in cooked dishes? Uncover the mystery here.)
  • Reduced olive oil to 1 tablespoon. (Used 1 tsp to caramelize the onions, then added the remaining 2 tsp to my glass baking dish before pouring in the spinach mixture and the chickpea batter.)
  • Replaced sundried tomatoes with fresh sungold cherry tomatoes.
  • Didn’t let the batter sit overnight—just for about 30 minutes.
  • Instead of using a cast iron pan, I caramelized the onions then sauteed the spinach and tomatoes together in a regular saute pan. I transferred the mixture to an oiled 9″ glass baking dish (see olive oil note above) before pouring on the chickpea batter and sliding it into the oven.

 

Lessons Learned for Next Time:

  • Make this every single day of your life for breakfast, lunch, and dinner and you will never be sad.

I guarantee that if you experiment with your own version of soccattata, or even if you follow either my rendition or the original recipe to a T, you will agree wholeheartedly with the statement above. Then come gush to me about how thrilled you are to have stumbled upon this godly culinary creation.

Local Ingredients: Rosso Milano onions from Jones Valley Farm, sungold tomatoes from the Plahnt Farm, and spinach from Driftless Organics.

Meal Checklist: Protein–chickpea flour. Whole Grain–none (when a whole pan of socca constitutes my dinner, I feel no need to include a grain in the meal). Vegetables–onions, tomatoes. Leafy Green–spinach.

Comment Provoking Questions: What is your view on the comfort vs. fancified aspect of tofu frittatas? What are your favorite ingredients to add to a tofu scramble? How about your favorite ingredients to add to socca? What is your number one favorite vegan egg replacer?

Until next time, Ali.

Recipe submitted to Wellness Weekend.

Vegan MoFo 11: Socca Recipe Tease

Well, I’m pooped. Much too pooped for a full-blown entry. Thus, I’ll leave you salivating with some tanalizing pictures of a socca-fied round of recipe experimentation. Socca with caramelized onions, spinach, and cherry tomatoes, anyone? Stay tuned for the recipe tomorrow…

 

Until next time, Ali.

Zucchini Cecina with Simple Guacamole, Baby Greens, and Cherry Tomatoes

If you recall my last cecina post, I fell completely head-over-heels in love with the crusty-on-the-outside, custardy-on-the-inside baked chickpea pancake. After two weeks at camp separated from civilization and my own kitchen, I felt that I well deserved another pan of creamy garbanzo beany goodness all to myself. With four more gigantesque zucchini hogging up my refrigerator, I hypothesized that my cecina craving could also eat up (get it? It’s a pun!), a fraction of the green veggie monsters.

Zucchini Cecina with Simple Guacamole, Baby Greens, and Cherry Tomatoes (Gluten Free, Soy Free, Nut Free)

Serves 2-4.

Cecina Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup garbanzo bean flour
  • 1 cup zucchini, shredded
  • 1 cup water

Guacamole Ingredients:

  • 1/2 small avocado
  • 2 tbsp cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tbsp lime juice

Toppings:

  • Cherry tomatoes, sliced
  • Mixed baby greens (I used a superb mix of baby mizuna, chard, tat soi, bok choy, arugula, and mustard greens from Harmony Valley Farm.)

Rub a 9″ round glass, metal, or ceramic baking dish with olive oil to prevent sticking. Pour 1 tbsp olive oil into the dish and slide into a preheating oven set to 400°F. Whisk the flour, water, and zucchini in a medium-sized bowl until very well mixed with no lumps. Once the oven is preheated, pour the batter into the pan and bake for 30 minutes.

Batter just poured into oiled pan.

In a small bowl, mash the avocado with a fork. Mix in the lime juice and cilantro. Voila! The simplest guacamole you’ll ever make.

After baking the cecina for 30 minutes, check the texture by lightly pressing on the middle of the pancake. You’re looking for a slightly springy touch. If it feels too soft, bake for another 5 minutes. Scrape around the edges of the cecina with a knife and invert pan onto a cutting board. If the pancake still sticks, flip the pan right-side-up, wiggle underneath it with a spatula to free the deliciousness from its glass prison chamber, and reinvert. If you care about how your food looks, then you can turn the cecina right-side-up again.

Cecina fresh out of the oven.

Spread the guacamole over the entire circle and layer on the mixed greens and cherry tomatoes. Marvel over the epoch of culinary mastery you have created and don’t even think twice about devouring the entire pan (I certainly find no shame in stuffing the whole pancake into my face).

 

Meal Checklist: Protein–garbanzo beans. Whole Grain–none. But frankly, I may have exploded from any brown rice after scarfing down a whole cecina. Vegetables–zucchini, avocado, tomatoes. Leafy Greens–mixed baby greens.

Local Ingredients: Zucchini from Dana’s garden, cilantro from my garden, mixed baby greens from Harmony Valley Farm, cherry tomatoes from the Hilldale Farmers Market.

Culinary Epiphany: Quinoa Cecina Stack with Grilled Eggplant and Zucchini

During my 5-week culinary tour in Florence, Italy this summer, my aunt introduced me to a simple yet superbly yummy classic Italian (and naturally vegan!), dish: cecina. Translated to “made of chickpeas,” the recipe contains only olive oil, chickpea flour, and water baked and served with a generous sprinkling of black pepper. I tasted my first cecina at a tiny restaurant in a quaint piazza on the Oltrarno called “5 e Cinque.” (See my review on HappyCow.net here.)

5 e Cinque

Cecina originated in Genoa, a city in northern Italy, but quickly spread throughout southern France where it is known as “socca,” which is also what the Pure 2 Raw twins refer to it as and they absolutely swear by this dish. Being the vegan and food experimenter that I am, I felt it absolutely necessary to attempt making my own cecina/socca in tribute to my summer in Florence and one of my favorite blogs. However, like the twins, I opted to tweak the standard chickpea flour/water/oil recipe by adding cooked quinoa to the batter and layering juicy grilled zucchini and eggplant between the cecina slices. So sue me for changing the recipe, but it turned out pretty darn well (a complete understatement, by the way.)

Quinoa Cecina Stack with Grilled Eggplant and Zucchini (Gluten Free, Soy Free, Nut Free)

Serves 2.

Cecina Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup garbanzo bean flour
  • 1 1/3 cups water
  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa (linked to a how-to.)

Grilled Vegetable Ingredients:

  • 2 medium zucchini
  • 2 smallish eggplant
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 4 tsp fresh thyme
  • Black pepper to taste

Pour 1 tbsp olive oil into a 9″ round glass, metal, or ceramic baking dish and stick into a preheating oven set to 400°F. Whisk the flour, water, and quinoa in a medium-sized bowl until very well mixed with absolutely no lumps. Once the oven is preheated, pour the batter into the pan and bake for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, slice the zucchini and eggplant into 1/4-inch rounds and toss well to coat with the olive oil and thyme (it may seem like you need more olive oil, but as long as you toss the vegetables in a large enough bowl, they will grill perfectly and save you a whole lot of calories in the fat department). Grill vegetable slices on a regular grill or a preheated stovetop grill pan for about 7-10 minutes on the first side, then flip and grill for another 5 minutes.

Zucchini and eggplant pre-grilling.

After baking the cecina for 30 minutes, check the texture by lightly pressing on the middle of the pancake. You’re looking for a slightly springy touch. If it feels too soft, bake for another 5 minutes (mine felt perfect after 30 minutes, but my oven is also superb, sorry to have to brag). Wiggle the cecina in the pan and scrape around the edges with a knife if it looks particularly sticky, then invert the pan onto a cutting board.

 

Clearly, some of my cecina got left behind in the pan! No worries, I had a field day stealing bites of the messy, stuck-on cecina while assembling the rest of my dinner. Next time I make cecina, I plan on rubbing the entire baking dish with an oiled paper towel before pouring the tablespoon of oil in. Most recipes for cecina do call for up to four tablespoons of oil, but if I’m the only one eating the entire pan, I surely do not want an entire 1/4 cup of olive oil in there. If you’re worried about the cecina sticking and don’t mind more olive oil, go ahead and use two tablespoons instead of one which should suffice.

Cut the cecina into eight wedges. Lay a couple slices of eggplant and zucchini in a single layer on one cecina wedge and repeat until you have an eight-tiered stack of cecina, grilled veggies, cecina, grilled veggies, etc. with four layers of each. Repeat with remaining vegetables and four wedges of cecina.

 

Recipe featured on Finding Vegan.

Only two words can describe this: CRAZILY ORGASMIC. The cecina forms a crunchy outside crust while the inside remains soft and custardy. Paired with the smoky grilled eggplant and zucchini and the nutty quinoa addition, this meal inspired a vegan epiphany. The only way I could improve this recipe is by replacing the grilled eggplant with sundried tomato roasted eggplant spread slathered on each cecina wedge and adding sliced avocado to layer with the zucchini. I’m 100% positive that numerous more cecina creations will end up posted on my blog and devoured by me.

Meal Checklist: Protein–garbanzo bean flour and quinoa. Whole Grain–quinoa. Vegetable–zucchini, eggplant, and sungold tomatoes (tossed in side salad). Leafy Green–swiss chard (chiffonaded into side salad with tomatoes and liquid gold dressing).

Local Ingredients: Swiss chard from JenEhr Family Farm, sungold tomatoes from Snug Haven Farm, zucchini from Pleasant Springs Orchard, and eggplant from the Hilldale Farmer’s Market.