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Panelle: Street snacks from Palermo

Cindy writes,

HI,
Looking for recipe for "Panella"(not sure of spelling). It is like a deep fried flat pancake with a ceci bean flour base. My husband used to eat it on bread like a sandwich on streets of Palermo.

Panelle (singular panella) are peasant food in the truest sense of the word, and resemble both the panissa made in Liguria and some of the fritters they make in Tunisia -- proof that in the Mediterranean everybody interacts. I've found a couple of recipes, one savory and the other sweet. To begin with the savory:

  • 1 pound (500 g) chick pea flour
  • Olive oil or rendered lard for frying
  • Salt
  • Lemon juice
  • Minced parsley (optional)

Stir the chick pea flour into 2 quarts (2 l) of lightly salted water over a moderate flame, and stir the mixture steadily in the same direction with a wooden spoon until you obtain a soft, lump-free paste. When the paste begins to pull away from the sides of the pot, turn it out into oiled wooden molds, or spread it out about 1/4 inch high (1/2 cm) on your work surface (dust the surface with parsley before you spread if you're including it). Once the paste has cooled, cut it into 1 by 3-inch (3x7 cm) rectangles and fry them in hot oil or lard.

To serve them, lay several rectangles on a slice of still-warm freshly baked bread, season them with lemon juice and salt to taste, top with another slice of bread, and enjoy.

The sweet version is slightly more elaborate, and calls for:

  • 12 ounces (300 g) chick pea flour
  • 1/4 cup (50 g) rendered lard
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) milk
  • 1/4 cup (50 g) sugar
  • 1 egg
  • A pinch of salt
  • Oil for frying
  • 1 cup powdered sugar

Stir a cup (250 ml) of water into the milk, add the sugar, lard, and salt, and bring the mixture to a boil. Remove it from the fire and stir in the four and the egg to obtain a stiff dough. Roll the dough out onto your work surface, cut it into rectangles when it has cooled, fry them, and dust them with powdered sugar.

Other chickpea recipes
Other sweet fritters

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