Panelle (chickpea fritters), a staple in Sicilian street food. Unfortunately, not a staple in my house. My Mom went through a brief period of just not quite being able to remember how to make them, resulting in very few memories of me actually enjoying them. My sister Jo took her recipe, researched and tweaked just a bit. As it turns out, it’s super easy. So while we mixed it up in the Test Kitchen, Mama told us about her memories of panelle back in Sicily.
In Capaci (a town of Palermo), across the street from my Mother’s home, were two sisters. They lived and worked out of their home (apparently this was a thing). From the ground floor, they had two windows. You could see them cooking in one, and the other is where you’d order your panelle… like a walk-thru window, I guess. On her way to school, she order a sandwich. They assembled the panelle on a bread called “faccia de vecchia” (old lady’s face?), which is kind of like focaccia. In just a few minutes, she was on her way to school with lunch (but if i know my mother, she was eating it on the way to school).
You would just about always eat it as a sandwich. Maybe if you had leftovers, you would cook it up with some eggs the next morning.
Makes about 20 fritters
2 cups Chickpea Flour (Garbanzo Bean Flour)
4 cups Water
2 tsp Salt
2 tbsp Parsley, chopped
Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a sauce pan and add 2 tsp salt. Remove from heat, whisk 2 cups of chickpea flour into water until smooth, stir in parsley. Then cover and place on medium heat for approximately 3-4 minutes or until it becomes a thick paste.
Pour into 8″ Loaf pan. Place in refrigerator for 2 hours or overnight to set. Remove from bread pan and slice into 1/4″ pieces.
Alternately, if you don’t have a loaf pan, you can pour mixture onto parchment paper and spread with spatula so that they form 8″ circles, about 1/4″ thick. Let cool (they’ll be a silicon-like texture, about 20 minutes) and cut into triangles.
Heat canola oil in a skillet (enough to let the panelle float on top, maybe 1/2″). Mom has this thing she does, put the stick end of a wooden spoon into the oil, if it starts bubbling, then it’s hot enough. Place a few pieces in, don’t overcrowd the pan, maybe 3-4 pieces. When the bottom side has reached a nice golden brown, flip them over, continue cooking until that side is also gold. Remove fritters, drain on paper towel and lightly sprinkle with coarse salt. Serve on a sesame seed roll. Try it with a squeeze of lemon or a dollop of fresh ricotta.