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Try something different this Pancake Day!

Today is Shrove Tuesday and there will be a lot of pancake flipping in everybody's kitchens! But rather than the normal breakfast pancakes which many people love at the start of the day, I would like to encourage you to try something different: the Niçoise socca which is a pancake made from chickpea/garbanzo flour and street food at its best – warm, fragrant, herby, crisp around the edges, soft in the middle, and gluten-free as well.

It is made on the streets of Nice in the south of France in great big iron pans and the cook tears away slices with an enormous spatula before handing it to you in a piece of greaseproof paper. It is fabulous on its own, or it can be drizzled with tapenade, aïoli or rouille, whatever is on offer at the stall. It is simple, pretty much foolproof, to make, both in a frying pan or in a roasting tin in the oven, and although the batter has to rest for an hour, there is virtually no preparation involved. I serve mine with an olive salsa and a cherry tomato salsa, and if I have the time, I also add some plant-based rouille – so if you fancy the idea, you can find the recipe here.

Chickpea/garbanzo flour is also known as gram flour or besan. It is widely used in Indian recipes and makes a regular appearance in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine. It is gluten free and incredibly useful in vegan cookery as it can take the place of eggs as a binding agent. It can be found in health shops and in the world food and baking sections of most large supermarkets.

La Socca Niçoise

Serves 2 for lunch with a salad

For the socca:-

150 g chickpea/garbanzo flour

1 tsp fine sea salt

375 ml water

2 tbsp finely chopped parsley, chives, rosemary or thyme

Olive oil, to brush the frying pans

2 x heavy non-stick frying pans, about 25 cm in diameter

For the olive salsa:-

25 g red onions, peeled and finely chopped

1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed

15 black olives, stoned/pitted and coarsely chopped

5 g flat leaf parsley, coarsely chopped

2 tbsp olive oil

1 lemon, grated zest and juice

Freshly ground black pepper

For the tomato salsa:-

25 g red onions, peeled and finely chopped

1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed

150 g cherry tomatoes, quartered

2 tbsp sun-dried tomato purée

2 tbsp capers, rinsed and squeezed dry

5 g fresh basil, shredded

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Place the chickpea flour, salt, water and herbs in a mixing bowl and whisk with an electric beater to make a smooth batter. Set aside to rest for an hour.

Make the olive salsa by mixing the onions, garlic, olives, parsley, olive oil, lemon rind, 1/2 tbsp of fresh lemon juice and some black pepper in a small bowl. Taste and add more lemon juice if it is a bit bland – it all depends on how briny the olives are.

Mix all the ingredients for the tomato salsa in a small bowl.

Heat the two frying pans over medium heat until the heat radiates from them.

Brush generously with olive oil and divide the batter between them, swirling them around to spread the batter out. Lower the heat and leave the pancakes to cook until the edges start to brown – this will take three to four minutes. Flip them over with a wide spatula and cook the underside for about two minutes.

Slide the socca on to two warm plates, fold if you wish, and serve immediately with the salsas and the optional rouille.

And now for La Socca’s nutritional talents, because it does possess some: chickpeas are packed with protein as well as folate, phosphorus, iron, copper, potassium, magnesium and manganese; they have a low glycaemic load and their high fibre content helps keep blood sugar levels stable and the microbiome happy.


Apart from their wonderfully rich and salty flavour, they offer powerful anti-inflammatory properties, healthy fats, iron and copper and lots of antioxidant polyphenols.


Vitamins C and K, potassium, folate, strongly antioxidant lycopene and beta carotene.


Full of essential oils and phytochemicals, anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, lowers blood glucose, triglycerides and cholesterol.

What a nutritional profile!

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