Have you been to Southern Spain? If so, you've likely heard of Coca. No, it's not a soft drink but a savory flatbread hailing from Mallorca. We're recent transplants from New York (we moved here to start a private chef business) and it's pretty much our favorite part of Mallorca (aside from the beaches, the people, and the history). At its best, a Coca is a crisp olive oil-dough topped with seasonal vegetables.
But, before we get into it, you should know its background. Usually, it's made for big parties, family events, what have you, and they kick of with this slice of local flavor! And, usually, coca dough is made with pork fat, but I love using flavorful extra virgin olive oil instead as it makes a more tender crust. Oh, and around here, we use a whole wheat (aka xeixa flour) that is locally milled from anancient wheat, only found in Mallorca, it adds a very rich, nutty flavor and, well, is super particular to Mallorca. If you can't find it (you likely won't), don't worry, because white whole wheat flour will do in a pinch.
Around late spring time the markets in Mallorca are stocked with local ingredients tha range from artichokes, asparagus, swiss chard, to baby zucchini flowers. They are at the height of freshness and combine to form a lighter take on this dish usually made from rich sun ripened tomatoes and peppers in the summer. Any combination of toppings can be used, as long as you have a nicely balanced crust and only use a great young, verdant olive oil!
plus more for garnish, divided
divided, plus more to taste
peeled, trimmed, and finely chopped
minced or grated
touch stems removed
cleaend and ends trimmed
For the dough: Combine the 4 cups of bread flour, 1 cup of white whole wheat flour, 1 cup of olive oil, water, 1 egg, and 1 1/2 teaspoons of hte kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, and mix until dough comes together and pulls away from the side of the bowl, abotu 10 minutes. Place doug in an oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside while you assemble the sauce and toppings, at least 30 minutes.
You can also kneed the dough by hand until the same consistency. The dough can be made through this step or even parbaked (see below) up to 2 days ahead.
For the artichoke bechamel: Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil over high heat. Meanwhile, trim and clean the artichokes until only the hearts remain. Add the artichoke hearts to the water and boil until knife tender, about 10 minutes. Drain the artichokes then set aside. While artichokes are boiling, heat the milk in the microwave or in a small saucepan until just hot. Melt the butter in another medium saucepan over medium low. When the butter foams, add half of the chopped shallot, season with 1 teaspoon of the salt and pepper, and cook until translucent and soft, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of flour over the melted butter then whisk until all the flour has been incorporated and the flour taste has cooked off, about 3 minutes.
For tips on cleaning the artichokes, check this tutorial out. The sauce can be made through this step then stored refrigerated in an airtight container up to 2 days ahead.
Whisk in the warm milk, add the bay leaf and thyme leaves, and continue whisking until the mixutre comes to a simmer. The sauce is thick enough when you draw your finger across the spoon and it leaves a mark through the sauce that does not run back in on itself. Remove the sauce from heat and discard the bay leaf. Mash the cooked artichokes until smooth then mix into the reserved white sauce. Taste and add more salt and pepper as desired.
Assembly: When ready to bake the coca, heat the oven to 400°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface, then, using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll the dough to a 1/2-inch thickness. Coat a quarter sheet pan with a thin coating of olive oil then press the pressing the dough into the pan, leaving an overhang. Trim the edge of the dough so there it a 1/2-inch overhang, then, using a sharp pair of scissors, cut the dough at an 1/8-inch intervals to create a decorative edge. Bake the crust until it is just set and the edges are starting to get golden brown, about 15 minutes.
You can blanch the chard and saute the vegetables up to 2 days ahead of time. Store refrigerated in an airtight container until ready to use.
Meanwhile, bring a small saucepan of water to a boil then blanch the stemmed chard until just wilted, about 10 seconds. Set aside to drain then finely chop. Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a medium frying pan over medium heat. When the oil shimmers, add the remaining shallots and garlic and cook until soft and just starting to color, about 5 minutes. Add the chard and asparagus and just cook until the asparagus is bright green, about 2 minutes. Add the paprika (if using) and the parsley, season with salt and freshly ground pepper, and set aside.
Remove the crust from the oven then spread the white sauce evenly along the inside of the baked crust. Arrange the chard-asparagus mixture over the artichoke sauce then drizzle with olive oil and season with sea salt and pepper. Return to the oven and bake until the bechamel is set, about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove coca from the oven, top with zucchini blossoms, cut into 8 to 12 pieces, and serve.
Food styling and photography by Aida Mollenkamp