Vegetable Socca

Read more about hearty vegetable-based fare in "Where the Vegetables are the Stars."

(chickpea flour pancakes made with your choice of zucchini, carrot, or winter squash)

Imagine latkes spending the fall in the south of France and you’ve captured the taste of Jessica Koslow’s pancakes. Prepared with colorful grated vegetables and thickened with a little chickpea flour, they are packed with fragrant fresh herbs and savory spices. Topped with tart greens and creamy labneh, these pancakes make a center-of-the-plate (and gluten-free) treat any time; on Rosh Hashanah, they’re also a delicious way to showcase one or more of the symbolic vegetables. For a dairy-free version, fry in oil instead of butter and omit the labneh.

Serves 4

photo by Jaime Beecham

photo by Jaime Beecham

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pound (455 g) zucchini, carrot, or winter squash (see Notes), peeled and coarsely grated
  • Fine sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cumin seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon coriander seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • ⅔ cup (80 g) chickpea flour
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Pinch of ground cinnamon (optional; use with winter squash)
  • Pinch of ground ginger (optional; use with winter squash)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more as needed
  • ½ cup (120 ml) labneh
  • 3 cups (60 g) spicy greens (such as watercress, arugula, or baby mustard greens)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

DIRECTIONS

  1. Toss the grated vegetable with a few big pinches of salt, then put it in a fine-mesh sieve and let drain, squeezing every so often so that the vegetable releases its water, for at least 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, combine the cumin, coriander, and fennel seeds in a dry skillet over medium-low heat. Toast the spices, shaking the pan often, until fragrant but not burned, about 3 minutes. Using a mortar and pestle or a spice grinder, grind the toasted spices to a powder.
  3. Crack the eggs into a large bowl and whisk to break them up. Add the drained vegetables, along with the garlic, oregano, mint, cilantro, chickpea flour, and toasted spices. Season with ½ teaspoon salt and a few grinds of black pepper, and mix well. If you are using winter squash, stir in a pinch each of ground cinnamon and ground ginger. (The pancake batter can be made up to 2 days ahead and stored, covered, in the fridge.)
  4. Heat a large skillet, preferably cast iron, over medium-high heat for a minute or two. Add the butter, then spoon in two overflowing ½ cupfuls (120 ml) of the pancake batter, pressing each to ½ inch (12 mm) thick. Cook, rotating the skillet occasionally for even browning, until the pancakes are nicely browned. Flip, then cook the second side for another few minutes. Transfer the pancakes to a plate. Repeat to make two more pancakes, adding more butter to the skillet, if needed.
  5. Season the labneh with salt.
  6. Just before serving, toss the greens with the lemon juice, oil, and some salt and pepper. Top each socca pancake with a huge dollop of labneh and a tangle of greens.

NOTE ON THE WINTER SQUASH
You can use any kind of winter squash that you like. We usually go for kabocha. If you’re having a hard time grating the squash on one of those handheld box graters, try cutting the squash into 2-inch (5-cm) pieces and then shredding them in a food processor.

WANT TO MAKE IT HEARTIER?
Add a fried egg on top.

SPICE UP THE LABNEH
Have fun with the seasoning. Try mixing in ras el hanout or za’atar.