Sicilians love to fry things. Not like American southern fried chicken, but gently, like Japanese tempura. In Sicily, there is a rich culture of fried snacks, of which arancine (deep-fried rice appetizers) are the most famous. Panelle are a close second. They are sold at “fry shops” all over the island.
Panelle could not be simpler to make. The chickpea flour has a nutty taste that is really brought out by a little caciocavallo cheese (or provolone cheese) grated over the hot fritters and melted a little. Chickpea flour is perfect for your gluten-intolerant friends.
This recipe makes about 20 fritters: perfect for stand-up appetizers.
Ingredients and Direction:
- 1 cup chickpea flour (a.k.a. garbanzo bean flour)
- 2 cups water
- 2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley – separated into 1 tablespoon groups
- Salt and pepper
- Extra virgin olive oil for rolling out and for frying
- Caciocavallo cheese (or Provolone)
- A large-hole cheese grater
- A wooden board, a marble surface or a silpat to rollout the fritters
- A small whisk
- A wooden spoon
- Plastic wrap and a rolling pin
- Paper towels to drain the fritters
- Prepare the surface to roll out the fritters: oil a wooden board or marble surface so it is ready to go. A silpat would work great too, in which case, there is no need for the oiled surface.
- In a medium pot, add the water and then slowly whisk in the chickpea flour, breaking up any clumps as they form. Add 1 tablespoon of the parsley, a big pinch of salt and a smaller pinch of pepper; stir.
- Heat the mixture over medium heat and stir continuously with a wooden spoon until the mixture starts pulling away from the sides of the pot. About 15 minutes.
- Working quickly, scrape the fritter mixture out of the pot on to the prepared surface. Cover with plastic wrap and roll out with the rolling pin. The fritters should be about 1/16” thick. Remove the plastic wrap and let the fritters cool. When cool, cut the fritters into 2” x 3” rectangles.
- Fill a small shallow frying pan with extra-virgin olive oil. You don’t need much, just enough to fry the fritters on one side. Heat over medium heat until the oil is shimmering.
- Add a few fritters at a time and fry till golden brown. Carefully flip the fritters over and fry the other side. Remove to a paper towel and let them briefly drain.
- Place the fritters on a serving plate. Grate some caciocavallo cheese over the fritters and let it melt a little. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.