The final entry in my Socca Palooza is the classic Margherita; roasted cherry tomatoes, buffalo mozzarella and fresh basil. Start with some sweet little tomatoes, assorted colours are pretty.Cut them in half, mix with olive oil, salt and a bit of minced garlic. Roast them for about 20 minutes. Top the soccas with roasted tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella. Pop it under the broiler to melt the cheese. Finish with fresh basil, a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of sea salt. This is a drippy messy socca. Serve with a knife, fork and lots of napkins and dig in.
This socca pizza is the creation of Gwyneth Paltrow. Regardless of your feelings for Gwynnie, this socca is pretty awesome! (For the record, I’m a fan) It was featured in this spring’s In Style Magazine. Bookmark this one for when you have to cook for those annoying vegan friends. (No judgement here!!)
Toss sliced carrots with olive oil, salt and za’atar. Bonus points if you can find some purple and yellow carrots to mix in with the orange ones. Roast them in a hot oven for about 20 minutes. Avocado, cilantro and lime join the party. A lemon-tahini sauce makes a fine accompaniment to drizzle on top.
Click here to print recipe for Za’arat Roasted Carrots with Avocado Socca Pizzas.
Socca is essentially a large chickpea flour flatbread. Similar in texture to a crepe, it has crisp edges and the sweet and nutty flavor of chickpeas, with a trace of smokiness from a trip under the broiler. They originated in Nice where they are cooked in wood ovens on copper disks. I thought they would be an excellent base for pizza.
I am not very skilled at drawing or painting, so I like to think of these socca crusts as my canvas and the toppings as my paint. It’s easy to create masterpieces when late summer markets are overflowing with gorgeous produce.
Mix up the socca batter; chickpea flour (I used Bob’s Redmill Garbanzo and Fava Bean Flour), water, olive oil and salt. Let the batter sit on the counter for at least 2 hours, or you can even refrigerate it overnight.Pour about 3/4 cup batter into a lightly oiled hot nonstick pan, and cook until golden brown on both sides.Channel your inner Picasso and top with whatever fills you with joy. For this version I shaved the zucchini and dressed the ribbons with fresh thyme, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. I sautéed some fresh corn kernels. Feta and olives for salt and some shredded mozzarella to create oozy cheesy goodness. Pop it under the broiler to melt the cheese and crisp up the edges.
Click here to print recipe for Zucchini, Corn and Feta Socca Pizzas.
Falafel? Forget about it. Shawarma? So over it. This year I’m all about Sabich, a pita sandwich bursting with fried eggplant, hard-boiled egg, shredded cabbage, hummus, Israeli salad and pickles. Drizzled with tahini sauce and pickled mango chutney (amba), this sandwich is a thing of beauty.
The origin of this sandwich is credited to Iraqi Jews who arrived in Israel in the 1950’s. Most of them settled in the Tel Aviv suburb of Ramat Gan. Since cooking is not allowed on the Sabbath a cold lunch of yesterday’s fried eggplant and hard-boiled eggs was often served for lunch. Natural born entrepreneurs, the Iraqi Jews rolled these ingredients into a pita and started selling them as street food. Cheap and filling, these sandwiches quickly became the country’s version of fast food.
I had my first sabich at Sarona Market, the stunning modern new food market in Tel Aviv. If you have not visited Sarona Market but are familiar with the Shuk (Machane Yehuda Market) in Jerusalem, suffice it to say that they are polar opposites! Not to say that the shuk does not have its charms, such as being elbowed by sabras in a hurry to get their marketing done before Shabbat. Each market is special and unique and both merit a spot as a must visit destination on trip to Israel. Even if food is not your passion, the people watching at both markets are a fascinating window into daily Israeli life.
I didn’t really know what I was ordering. My daughter and I just pointed to this beautiful stuffed pita sandwich in the display case. It looked fresh and promising. We were hooked from the first drippy, messy bite. Crispy, crunchy, soft, creamy, tangy, and spicy, this sandwich is an amazing fusion of textures and flavours. The addition of hard-boiled egg surprised me. My daughter explained that this is typical in some Israeli sandwiches.I knew I had to try recreating this at home. I have made it twice now since coming home. The first time I tried not to stray too far from the original. I was unable to find amba, the pickled mango chutney where I live. I could have ordered it online, but I was too impatient. I substituted in some pickled jalapeños for heat. I added some creamy avocado, which seemed like a perfect compliment.You may be tempted to bake or grill the eggplant slices, in order to keep the calorie count lower. I beg you not to do that. Yes, eggplant soaks up a ton of oil when you fry it. But it is precisely that oil rich flavour and squishy texture you want in this sandwich and only frying can achieve it. Since you’re just tucking just a few slices into the sandwich, so don’t stress about it.
Green cabbage is thinly sliced and simply dressed with salt and white wine vinegar. Sour dill pickles add additional crunch. Tomatoes, cucumbers, parsley, garlic, lemon juice and olive oil are combined in a classic Israeli salad. I jacked up my store bought Tahini sauce with some garlic, and lemon juice and added some hot water to thin it out so that it had the perfect texture for drizzling.
The second time I made it, I mixed up a batch of spiced ground lamb (cumin, coriander, sautéed onions and cinnamon) and formed mini lamb burgers that we grilled along side the fresh pita bread. The addition of the lamb sliders was a big hit at our table.
Click here to print recipe for Sabich.
Click here to print recipe for Spiced Lamb Burger Patties, if you want to add lamb to your sabich.
At this time of year I feel like I have one foot firmly planted in optimism about spring. However, the other foot is dragging quite slowly behind, unable to escape winter’s firm grip. We get a few warm days and the mountain of snow in front of my house melts a bit, and then wham, a mini blizzard.
This pasta bridges the gap between winter and spring perfectly. Representing winter we have browned Brussels sprouts. In the other corner, leeks and lemon lighten everything up. Everything comes together to create a deeply satisfying dish.Trim the Brussels sprouts and set aside the larger leaves that come off easily. Halve the sprouts, or quarter, if large.Slice half the leek into thin rings. Coarsely chop the other half of the leek. The leek circles and halved sprouts get browned in a pan. Place sprouts cut side down and leave them alone for 3-4 minutes, so they can get some colour on them. There’s flavour in the brown!Rigatoni is a great choice for this dish. Penne would also work quite well. Don’t forget to heavily salt the cooking water for the pasta. Just before draining the pasta, scoop off a cup of that starchy cooking water. You will need it to create the sauce for this pasta.An extra drizzle of olive oil and sprinkling of Parmesan cheese finish off this dish perfectly. A glass of wine is always welcome.