I can’t remember how my garden obsession started, or where it came from, but one day, about 4 or so years ago, it just happened. I haven’t given gardening much thought prior to that, so it came as a surprise, but there I was, going straight from uninterested to nearly obsessed. Unfortunately, our NW facing balcony was a bit of a problem. I tried so hard to grow something…anything. But the best we got were some dinky herbs, one little deformed cucumber, and a few years ago I think we had one tomato.
I felt so sorry for my plants, like I was bringing them into existence only to let them suffer with minimal sunlight. While things did seem to “grow”, nothing was thriving. Those poor little guys didn’t stand a chance and I kept having to remind my crazy self that plants don’t feel pain. But year after year, I was irrationally optimistic and persisted to plant another balcony garden.
Last spring my husband and I started looking for a house but I knew that we couldn’t be too picky about the yard space. Buying a (first) house in Toronto is kind of nuts, so we didn’t have high expectations. I guess that optimism hit me again and before you know it, I’m bringing home stacks of library books on gardening and permaculture and getting lost in seed catalogues and websites like this, dreaming of the day I can plant 342354 different varieties of tomatoes. I hear that going tomato crazy is like the typical thing of amateur gardeners, and that it will pass, but the current obsession is real.
We finally got a place and moved in August. And guess what? We have a yard!!!! Like a normal, urban plot of land with SUN!!! But it was August, so with many limitations on what could be grown in the last two months of the season, I decided to experiment with a small fall garden.
The lettuce failed to germinate and the spinach seedlings were eaten by slugs. We did manage to get some delicious arugula and lots of kale. We also grew some amazing radishes that took less than a month from seed to maturity, a nice surprise! While this little garden is only the beginnings (BIG plans for next year ), it felt so good to finally get in the dirt.
As our kale was in its prime, Bon Appetit’s pizza issue came out and there was an amazing-looking kale and ricotta pizza recipe. That pizza happened almost immediately and it was delicious. I never thought of putting kale on pizza before (thinking burnt kale chip thoughts), but the secret that BA shared was to marinate the kale in lemon juice and olive oil for a few hours, which worked really really well! The thing that immediately came to mind after having it was this socca pizza from Cookie and Kate. I really love the chickpea crust. It doesn’t taste like a pizza crust, nor should it. It’s delicious in its own way. I modified the toppings a little bit – less cheese, more lemon kick – and it worked perfectly with the chickpea crust. Hope you like it!
- about 2 cups loosely packed shredded kale
- 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
- generous pinch of salt
- 1 cup (120 grams) chickpea flour
- 1 cup water
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 minced garlic clove
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1/4 cup ricotta cheese
- ~ 1 Tbsp. grated grana padano (or p.reggiano)
- ~ 1 tsp. lemon zest
- chilli flakes, to taste
- Combine kale, olive oil, lemon juice, and salt in a bowl and massage the kale. This will need to rest for 2 hours, but 1 hour in, start preparing the crust.
- In a bowl, whisk together the chickpea flour, water, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, garlic and salt. Let the mixture rest at room temperature for 1 hour.
- Turn on the broiler and position a rack in the middle. Place a 9 or 10 inch ovenproof skillet (cast iron’s awesome) in the oven to preheat.
- Once the skillet is hot, carefully (with oven mitts) remove it from the oven. Coat the pan with 1 Tbsp. of the olive oil. Pour in the chickpea batter and return the skillet to the broiler. Cook for about 8 minutes, until the crust is set and the edges are browning. Remove from oven, turn off broiler and turn oven to 425°F.
- Spread the remaining 1 Tbsp. of olive oil and top with marinated kale and ricotta cheese. Bake for about 10 minutes, or until the kale is starting to dry out at the edges.
- Remove socca from the oven and top with grated cheese, lemon zest, and chilli flakes.