Saturday, April 21, 2018

Italian Panelle (Chickpea Fritters) with Pecorino Cheese

 I need these scrumptious and insanely addictive Italian panelle in my life
Don't you?! 

If you're looking for the perfect appetizer to start off your dinner.
Or an irresistible finger food for your next party.
Or a mouthwatering snack to comfort you when life happens. 
Look no further!
These Italian chickpea panelle are just what you need. They are scrumptious and insanely addictive. Slightly crispy on the outside, delicate and soft on the inside. The recipe is easy, quick, and requires only require very few ingredients.
Don't you need these in your life too?!?

If you've never had one of these before, panelle are a traditional Sicilian snack or appetizer. They are made from chickpea flour, cooked into a polenta, flavored with freshly ground pepper and lots of chopped Italian parsley, cut into wedges when cold, and fried until golden and puffy.
If you were in Palermo right now walking around town, you'd be enticed by the aroma coming for street vendors of fried panelle, generally served in a delicious-smelling sandwich bun with sesame seeds on top.
Here in Los Angeles you can for sure find them at Sotto Restaurant (one of my favorite dinner spots), served piping hot, sprinkled with lots of pecorino cheese, and lemon wedges on the side. A must-have for my boys to kick-off dinner. 

Did you check out my video recipe?!? Now you can recreate these mouthwatering chickpea fries right in your kitchen! 

As I mentioned the recipe is pretty easy and quick. The hardest part is actually finding the chickpea flour. Bob's Red Mill is the most common brand around here that makes it. I found it at my local Whole Foods store. I guess... not that hard to find after all :)
Once you have the chickpea flour, your job is almost done. Make a polenta with the flour (takes only about 15 minutes). Spread it out on a baking sheet to cool (about half hour). Cut into wedges and fry. 
These are pretty easy to fry (no splatters!) and only take a few minutes per side. The panelle need to look lightly golden on each side, and should puff up a little. Just like this ...


YIELD:  about 6 servings (5-6 pieces each) 
    • 2 cups (250 gr)  of chickpea flour
    • 3 cups (700 ml) of water
    • 1 small bunch (about 10 gr) of fresh Italian parsley, chopped
    • about 1 teaspoon of salt
    • pepper to taste
    • oil for frying
    • pecorino cheese, for serving
    • lemon wedges, for serving


TIME: 30 minutes to prepare, plus 30 minutes inactive

    Bring 3 cups of water to a boil.
    When the water starts to bubble, add the salt.
    Once it starts boiling again, lower the heat to medium-low and add the chickpea flour, while mixing well.

    Make sure to brake all the lumps. If you can't get them all, or to make the job easier here is a trick: remove the pan from the stove, and blend the polenta using an immersion blender. It will make it all smooth!

    Cook for at least 15 minutes. while mixing often, making sure it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan. The polenta is ready when it starts to come away from the sides of the pan.
    Adjust with salt if necessary. Season with pepper and chopped parsley.

    Mix well.
    Spread the polenta on a  baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Flatten it out to make a thin layer only about 4 to 5 mm thick (about 1/6 inch).
    Let it cool completely (about 1/2 hour).
    Cut the polenta into wedges. Any shape or size really works. Mine were about 1.5 inch by 2.5 inch.

    Heat the oil on a large enough pan. When hot (check with a wooden spoon for little bubbles) fry the panelle some at a time until lightly golden and puffy. It should take a couple of minutes per side.
    Drain well from the oil on a paper towel.
    Place on a serving plate. Sprinkle with lots of freshly grated pecorino cheese, and lemon wedges on the side.
    Enjoy when still hot!
    Buon appetito :)


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