What speaks more of summer than ratatouille? It’s the perfect dish to make when zucchini, eggplant and tomato are at their sweet, juicy peak. Unfortunately for me, it’s January. Perhaps I’m jumping the gun a little, or perhaps I’m just overly excited about having just planted this year’s tomato seeds and in anticipation of a bountiful harvest in my urban roof-top garden this July. On the other hand, I did spend several years living in the southern hemisphere and always thinking of my Argentine friends, now is the perfect time to enjoy a delicious summer ratatouille, southern people!
Now, you don’t really need me to teach you how to do a ratatouille – you can find a recipe anywhere. What I’m proposing is an interesting twist inspired by Rachel Khoo’s Cosmopolitan Cook: Socca topped with ratatouille.
So what is socca, you ask? It’s a sort of chickpea flour and olive oil crepe from Provence normally baked in a wood oven until browned and smoky. I’ve gone a step further than Rachel by baking the socca to a cracker-like consistency and topping the ratatouille with vegan pesto, lemon zest and fresh basil leaves. Using a muffin tin to bake your socca makes them all perfectly uniform in size for when you’re feeling extra anal.
I’ve been in love with chickpea flour ever since learning that it makes a great Spanish omelet and is also amazingly nutty after being toasted and added to curry. Socca is another great and easy way to use chickpea flour and something great to have on hand for those days that your pantry is running low.
- For the socca
- 1 cup (90 grams) chickpea (garbanzo) flour
- 1 cup (250 ml) water
- 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- For the ratatouille
- Olive oil, for frying
- 1 eggplant
- 1 zucchini
- 1 red onion
- 1 red pepper
- 2 tomatoes
- 2 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
- 200 grams (7 oz) whole canned tomatoes with their juices
- 1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- For the mini socca with ratatouille
- Zest of one lemon
- Vegan pesto
- Fresh basil leaves
- Whisk together all the ingredients for the socca and mix well to dissolve all the lumps. Set aside while you prepare the ratatouille.
- Chop all the vegetables into small chunks about 1.5 cm (0.6 inches). Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large pan over medium heat. Starting with the eggplant, zucchini and pepper, place as much as will fit in a single layer in the pan and fry until soft and slightly browned. Remove to a bowl and continue with the remaining eggplant, zucchini and pepper. Remove to the bowl.
- Add another tablespoon of oil and add the onion and garlic. Fry until transparent and fragrant. Stir in the oregano and thyme and fry for another minute. Return the eggplant, zucchini and peppers to the pan and add the whole canned tomatoes with their juice and the fresh tomatoes. Squash the whole tomatoes with the back of your spoon, add the balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper to taste. Cover and reduce heat to medium low. Simmer for 35 – 45 minutes until the liquid has reduced and the vegetables are soft. Allow to cool before assembling the mini socca bites.
- While the ratatouille is cooking, heat your oven to 200°C (390°F). Oil each cup of a muffin tin with olive oil. Spoon a small amount to the socca batter into each muffin cup. My muffin cups measure 4.5 cm (1.75 inches) in diameter and 1 tablespoon was the perfect amount to get a crispy socca cake without burning. Adjust amount depending on the size of your muffin cups. Bake the socca until crispy and browned – about 10 to 15 minutes. Watch them carefully to prevent burning. Remove to a plate and repeat with remaining batter.
- Top each socca with a small amount of cooled ratatouille. Top with a dollop of pesto, a sprinkle of lemon zest and a small basil leaf.
For the socca batter
For the ratatouille
For the socca cakes
For the mini socca with ratatouille
Adapted from Rachel Khoo's Cosmopolitan Cook
Nutrition Information:Yield: 10 Serving Size: 5
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 843Total Fat: 23gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 16gSodium: 4732mgCarbohydrates: 158gFiber: 78gSugar: 107gProtein: 36g