guys! you know how i was just complaining about aching for a vacation – i got my wish! in 24 days i will be laying on a beach in rio, with a beer in my hand, finally not looking translucent. i can almost feel the sun on my skin already! i wasn’t expecting to go away until the summer, but the opportunity to go to brazil for carnivale came and i couldn’t pass it up! it’s totally random and irresponsible, but i’ve decided that this is the year where i just say YES to everything and figure out the rest later, because i have lots of time to act like an adult when i’m old.
so unfortunately, that means for the next month i’ve gotta eat a lot less pasta and a lot more salad, since my diet lately has been a loooot of indulging and telling myself i’ll work it off at the gym in march. as much as i moan about “clean eating”, it doesn’t have to be that bad. pizza slices and burgers still float through my brain all day, but i’ve come up with some pretty damn delicious meals that i’ll keep eating after this diet is over.
we all know there’s no way in burning hell i’d ever be able to cut carbs completely (i’m convinced that the people who do are robots), so i’ve turned to some healthier options, like socca! socca is this delicious chickpea flour flatbread that originated in genoa, and is eaten as street food in places like nice. it’s crispy and salty, with a slight nutty flavour from the chickpeas that i can’t get enough of and i like to flavour mine with chilli flakes and a bit of cumin for a smoky taste. one of the things i’ve eaten at least 4 times since i started this temporary diet, is this hearty bowl of lentils, portobello mushrooms and arugula – it’s filling and flavourful and light all at the same time. i use the socca as a base, pile on the layers of ingredients and instantly have a healthy meal i actually want seconds of!
socca + lentils & portobello mushrooms
1 cup chickpea flour
1 cup water
1 hearty glug olive oil
1 pinch sea salt
1 pinch each cumin and chilli flakes (optional)
1 cup dried green or brown lentils
2 cup water
4 cloves garlic, smashed & skins removed
1 bay leaf
sprig of rosemary (if you have some on hand, or other herbs like thyme work as well)
3-4 portobello mushrooms, cleaned and sliced into 1 inch pieces
2 big handfuls arugula
juice of 1 lemon
combine the chickpea flour, water, olive oil and spices if using to a large bowl. set aside until it begins to thicken, about 30 minutes to an hour (if you have the time).
add the lentils, water 1 clove of garlic, the bay leaf and the other herbs to a pot (make sure to use one large enough, as the lentils will at least double in size). bring to a boil, and then turn heat to low, and very gently simmer, uncovered for about 20-30 minutes. once cooked through, remove from heat and stir in a pinch of salt, then set aside.
while lentils are cooking, heat about 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a cast iron pan over medium heat until shimmering. add the remaining smashed garlic and swirl around, until aromatic and the garlic is beginning to colour just slightly. add the sliced mushrooms to the hot garlic oil season well with salt and pepper, and cook, turning occasionally until crispy on the outside and juicy in the centre.
in the last 10 minutes of cooking the mushrooms and lentils, turn your oven on to broil. heat a cast iron pan over high heat and coat with a neutral oil. when very hot, pour the socca in and swirl to spread around, a little thicker than a crepe. pop in the pre-heated oven and let cook until blistering and crispy. remove and let cool very slightly on a wire rack.
toss the arugula with lemon juice, then add the socca to a large plate topping with warm lentils, mushroom slices and arugula (don’t forget those delicious cloves of garlic). season with sea salt and enjoy!