Socca (Farinata) with Rosemary, Halloumi, and Fig Jam

Today’s world tour of flatbread takes us to…France! Or Italy. Or Turkey. Let’s just go cruise the Mediterranean, yes? And while we’re at it, let’s eat some chickpea flatbread.

Socca (pronounced SOCK-a, not SO-ka) is a wonderfully easy flatbread to make. You just mix it up and bake it, and for the most part…that’s it. It’s adaptable to a range of spices and additions (like sauteed onions? Toss ’em in!) and can serve as an appetizer or dinner. Adjust slice size accordingly.

So what is it? Socca, a French word, is also known as farinata in Italian. It’s a flatbread made entirely of chickpea flour, so it’s got a flavor unlike most of the other flatbreads we have known. It’s gluten-free (because chickpeas), so you celiac folks can dig it. Socca has literally been a food item for a millennia. Origin stories credit its development to Roman soldiers in Nice, France, circa the 1st century BCE. Or as the result of invasion by Turkish forces. Or that it was developed in Sardinia. And so on. Food travels along trade routes as well as the trade, so it’s difficult to determine who made socca first. We’re just glad someone did. Thanks, ancient smart foodie!

Here’s a link to a .pdf file of Socca with rosemary halloumi fig jam, so click to print, for the ingredient list, or for a straightforward how-to.

And so. Let’s get going.

Preheat the oven to 450°F (230°C) and put your oven-safe pan in to heat with it. I used cast-iron for this, mainly because I have one and I’ve used it so much it’s practically a non-stick pan on its own. If you don’t have cast-iron, stainless steel is perfectly fine, so long as your pan doesn’t have a rubberized handle or anything. Anyway, let that heat. Chop that rosemary.

Mix your flour, rosemary, salt, and pepper. Then add the water.

Mix it all together thoroughly. It should have the consistency of a heavy cream. With, you know. Chunks of rosemary floating in it. Set it aside until the oven is ready. You can let this sit for however long is necessary. You can even let it rest for up to a day, if for some reason you need to mix your socca immediately but don’t have the extra 15 minutes to bake it off.

Meanwhile, dice your halloumi. Your ha-what-i? Halloumi.

Halloumi comes to us from the island of Cyprus, and it’s primarily known because it doesn’t really melt. It’s grillable. You can set it on fire. It will survive, intact, under a broiler. And when you bite it, it issues an adorable squeak. I mainly chose it for this dish because it wouldn’t melt and I wanted the pockets of cheese for texture. Try to find a non-melting cheese if halloumi is hard to come by. Ricotta salata would be a good second choice.

When the oven is ready, pour one tablespoon of olive oil into your hot pan so it coats the bottom. Pour in the batter and then put the diced cheese into the pan so it bakes along with the flatbread.

And then it all goes into the oven, where you’ll leave it alone for 10 or 12 minutes. When you do check the socca, it should look cooked through and dry along the top. Not dusty-desert dry but rather, cooked-all-the-way-through dry. Switch your oven function over to broil. Take that remaining tablespoon of olive oil and coat the top of the socca, then put small dollops of fig jam all around the cheese. I used an insanely delicious fig butter that I may or may not have gotten from Trader Joe’s, but I will neither confirm nor deny the source until I have their sponsorship.


Put this beautiful thing back under the broiler for a minute or two, just to get it nice and brown and gorgeous, and to set the jam a little. Take it out and cut it into wedges. You can halve each of the full-size wedges if this is party food or an appetizer.

Oh, man. The fragrance of the rosemary. The sweetness of the fig jam. The salty squeaky snap of the halloumi. This dish is a party unto itself.

And then serve it with…

BONUS RECIPE! Click here for the .pdf for Kale with Garlic and Oranges.

This is another trip through the Mediterranean. The first time I heard of this recipe, the chef used fresh spinach. I’m sure it was delicious but I couldn’t see putting spinach through a 20-minute cook time, and you can’t make it a flash in the pan because you need to cook the orange rind. I decided I wanted something a little more hearty that would stand up to a bit more heat. Hence, kale. I swear by all that is holy that some day I will sit in a little taverna in the Peloponnese region and eat this while overlooking some ruins, or olive groves, or a crisp blue sea. For now, I have to make do with my little kitchen in central PA and a travel app on my Fire TV. At least the eating is good here.

Briefly, chop everything and put it in a large saute pan.

Cover and cook for 20 minutes. Et voila!

I know, cooked oranges are weird, right? Wrong! It’s only weird because we’re not used to it. The bitterness of the orange pith mellows, the kale gets sweeter and soft, as does the garlic, and there’s a wide range of textures from the ruffles of the kale to the chewiness of the oranges to keep you entertained through your meal.

All I need is a glass of rosé to make this dinner…merveilleux. Eccelente? Mükemmel. Enjoy it however you see fit! There’s a lot of latitude here.

Eat on, friends.

Whole-Wheat Pita Bread

I grew up in a white-bread household, and I mean that literally as well as metaphorically. The bread of choice from my childhood was generally super-white and super-squishy, which occasional nods to loaves like rye or pumpernickel.

Hence my surprise when my mother came swanning in from the grocery store with this crazy flat bread with a pocket. It was, like, diet bread, and IMAGINE! We could stuff it with vegetables and lettuce and just the tiniest bit of dressing and it would be like eating a sandwich only more diet-y. What will they think of next, I wondered?

Hence my further surprise when I learned that they’d thought of it long ago. Nascent forms of pita have been around for more than 14,000 years and by 4,000 years ago, flat pita bread (maybe minus the pocket) was a staple in Babylon and Mesopotamia. This easy to make, easy to transport kind of bread then spread through the whole Middle East/Balkan/Mediterranean region because deliciousness transcends borders.

I’m making whole-wheat pita primarily because I prefer the taste, and this is my kitchen. We will get to all white flour pita in another post.

[Click here for a printable .pdf file of whole wheat pita bread]

Here’s what you need:

  • 1 cup warm water, shoot for around 105°F
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 Tablespoon honey or agave
  • 1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour plus extra if needed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, plus more for proofing

Here’s what you do:

Mix your water and honey so the honey is thoroughly dissolved in the water. Pour your water and honey into a large mixing bowl (if you have a stand mixer, feel free to use it), and add yeast. Combine it all together, and the mix will look cloudy and unappealing. Just wait. In a matter of minutes it will start to look like Bayonne Beach at low tide, as the yeast starts to bloom.

The good news is, it’s supposed to look this way. The better news is, you should start to smell that yeasty, bready smell as the yeast wakes up. I always get ravenously hungry at this point because it’s a Pavlovian and that smell triggers my nom response.

Add the flours, salt, and Tablespoon of olive oil, and stir it all together.

I am new to the dough hook and it has become my favorite thing, particularly because I have some mild carpal issues in both wrists. Inverted yoga positions are pretty much off the table for me at this point, but I digress. What is this device that wants to help knead on my behalf so I may enjoy homemade baked goods without crippling myself? I’ll use it!

Anyway. Knead for five minutes or so by hand, or two minutes or so if by hook, on speed 2. Remember, you’re looking for a fairly smooth ball. If you’re using the mixer, it’s pulled away from the sides of the bowl and if you’re kneading by hand, it stays generally together and doesn’t want to remain attached to the table. Don’t be afraid to add flour as you’re mixing if it’s too sticky. It should still have a little bit of stick, and a pretty good amount of elasticity. Put your ball of dough in the proofing bowl you have waiting, that’s coated in olive oil.

Cover with a plastic wrap or towel and place your dough in a steady-temperature, draft-free spot in your home for one hour. It should double. Also the smell will likely drive you insane with hunger. Or is that me, again?

At the end of that hour, start heating your oven to 450°F (230°C) and of course, if you proof in the oven take the dough out before preheating. Put your baking sheet in the oven to get hot, too. The mystical bread reaction that creates the pocket requires a very hot oven, which will turn the moisture in your dough into steam and cause the signature puff. So you want everything–the oven, the baking surface–to be as hot as you can get it. You can even use a pizza stone with your baking sheet if you’d like, but I always find them hard to manage. That’s just me. You do you.

Take your big puffy mound of risen dough, deflate it a bit, and turn it out once more onto your floured work surface. Cut it into 8 relatively equal chunks (I tend to gently roll mine into kind of a log and cut in half, and then cut the halves in half, and so on) and roll them into a ball. Try not to fold the dough together, because then you’ll get folds on the insides of your pockets. Then roll them all out into rounds about 1/4 inch thick, and try not to roll them thinner than that or they won’t puff properly while they cook.

When your oven is hot, put your pita rounds on the baking sheet. I usually bake them off three at a time, and they don’t need any oil or anything on the sheet. Just lay them on so they don’t overlap each other, and close the oven door. Four minutes, or maybe five later, you’ll have beautiful, fresh, hot pita. Set them on a cooling rack and bake off the remainder. Eventually, you’ll end up with a glorious stack of bread that, if you’re anything like me, won’t last more than a few days in your house.

I’m not kidding when I say I am going to make a fresh batch of these as soon as I finish this post.

And what can you do with these pitas? Enjoy them with hummus. Top them with sauce and cheese and enjoy personal pizzas. We served them stuffed with a lentil salad a la Yotam Ottolenghi, and it was…


Enjoy the pita! Have fun in the kitchen! Flatbreads and pancakes are your friends, especially when they’ve been around for 4,000 years or so.