An Elaborate Plan to Begin Vacation
As we are nearing our first wedding anniversary, I want to share a story of admiration for my not-exactly-newlywed husband. He is wonderful at many things, cooking included, but besides that he is extremely generous in both instances of his time and willingness to cook whichever recipe I find, or dinner idea I dream up. I have a lot of vision for the meals we make, the way I want foods to appear on a plate, and how I want our dinner "stories" to turn out, but he is the primary chef, and for that I am forever grateful. And well fed (the first meal he ever made for me is a cute chat for another time!).
On the first night of our first bit of time off this summer, I decided it would be fun (hopefully?) to make a new recipe I found in the book Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi, which I perused for dinner ideas on the deck of my in-laws home one June afternoon. Delightful!
My favorite element of a cookbook is the photos, so naturally I am drawn to the images in any of the Ottolenghi books due to their vibrancy and "so pretty you can taste it" quality. Seriously, the more drool-worthy a photo, the more likely I am going to want to make it at home. I assume that's common for many of us, right? How great can a cookie be if I can't see the "results photo" before I bake it? How will I know how delicious it will be if the photo doesn't make me pre-heat the oven and find my ingredients? :)
So, back to the story at hand. I looked through Plenty, noticed a recipe for Socca, read about it in detail, and realized the recipe was naturally gluten free and consisted of many items we buy regularly anyway! Awesome! I showed it to my husband and said "we need to make this!" And he heartily agreed (editor's note: searching for dinner recipes while hungry is dangerous! Ha.) Socca appeared to be small chickpea flour pancakes topped with caramelized onions and roasted grape tomatoes. Yum. I'm sold. How difficult could it be?
Fast forward to the first night of our vacation, as mentioned above, which turned into the night we made Socca, AKA a wonderful recipe that is actually a bit more involved than I anticipated. None of the steps are too difficult, but there are many of them, and each one does take time. Thankfully, we didn't have to work the next day, and our vacation mindset allowed us to relax somewhat despite the Socca-making process being lengthy. And we had a glass of wine.
As stated before, my husband joyfully greeted this new recipe with no trepidation, as usual, and set to work making this delightful meal. Creating the chickpea pancake batter, the slow-cooking of the caramelized onions, and preparing/roasting the grape tomatoes, each step was a little time consuming, especially the waiting for ingredients to finish and be "ready" for the assembly. I'd say the lengthiest aspect was properly caramelizing the onions, and even now we look back and say that they could have been cooked longer. Next time, I suppose!
Otherwise, we followed the recipe pretty much to a T, save for the size of the pan we used for the pancakes. Ordinarily Socca could be considered an appetizer, but due to the fact that we only had a 9" pan, we made them dinner! The pancake batter fills the bottom of whichever size pan you use, so ideally a small (6") would be used. I'm on the lookout for that smaller pan!
Once each element was done: chickpea pancakes, caramelized onions, and roasted tomatoes, we layered them all together and popped them back in the oven for the final warm up. Dinner was (finally) ready!
Socca was a wonderful dish to begin our vacation, if not slightly more time consuming than either of us anticipated. However, given our lack of time constraints, my husband's fantastic can-do cooking attitude, and my attempt to clean the dishes along the way (are you done with that? Can I wash it now?), I'd say it was a great success and start to some well-deserved time off.
Of note, for the following five days, we did not cook even once and ate our weight in fresh Maine lobster. Now that's a vacation! :)
Comments: You can find this recipe in the book Plenty, and easily online as well. I found it on the following websites:
However, I recommend buying the book because of the gorgeous photos and plethora of other wonderful vegetable dinner ideas. ;-)