Thursday, December 4, 2014

P like Palermo, P like pane & panelle!!!

The renowned pane e panelle (homemade)

PALERMO and PANELLE: The two words are forever bond, because the 'pane e panelle' (the panelle sandwich) is together with the other famous 'pane ca' meusa' (the spleen sandwich), the most distinctive and representative street food of the Capital of Sicily. Infact if you ask an Italian about it, I am pretty sure he doesn't know what I am talking about unless he/she has been in Palermo on holiday. If you ask a Sicilian (from another part) he would probably shrug his shoulder too. 

What eaxctly are they, then? They are fritters made of chickpea flour and water, salt and some chopped parsley. And you can have them stuffed into a panino with potato croquettes or on their own as a starter.

Frying panelle
How are they? FLAT in shape. SUPERB and UNIQUE in taste.  

Trust me, the average Palermo-dweller is totally in love with them regardless of age, profession or social status

Any occasion is perfect to have them on the table & vegeterians will love them too!

For the best result I usually squeeze some drops of lemon juice on top and a pinch of black pepper, and for those who are not crazy about parsley like me, I put fresh mint leaves instead.  

If you haven't tried this food yet... it's about time!!!

Panelle and potato croquettes
To make this gorgeous recipe perfect, let's add a pinch of history first: the Arabs that dominated our island, from the 9th to the 11th century, started to grind the seeds of the chickpeas. The result was flour that, mixed to water and cooked in a pan on a heat, gave a kind of raw dough, that wasn't particularly tasty. After experimenting they found out that the same dough, cut in thin slices and fried in oil, was delicious and had an inviting golden color, so little by little, it became very popular.

That's how this amazing food was born.
And the love-story between panelle and the city of Palermo lasts ever since. 


RECIPE:
  • 500 gr chickpea flour
  • 1,5 litre water
  • thinly chopped parsley (as required)
  • e.v. olive oil
  • salt
  • sesame seeds (optional)
1. Fill a large pot with 1 lt and half of water, add the chickpea flour little by little and stir constantly with a whisk to avoid lumps. Put the pot on a medium heat, add a good pinch of salt (about 30 gr.) and keep stirring until it starts boiling and getting thicker.
2. When this mixture will be more solid (similar to the polenta) you can add the parsley and remove from heat.
3. Place the dough on a marble surface previously oiled (or on an oiled oven tray) and flatten it with a spoon or a spatula. Once it has cooled down, with a knife, make some rectangles.
4. Pour some olive oil in a pan on a high heat to start frying our panelle on both sides until golden. It takes few minutes so be careful!
5. Place them on some kitchen paper to absorb the exceeding oil and add a pinch of salt.
6. Serve immediately while still hot, together with our little rounded panini.



P like PALERMO, P like PANELLE... forever bond. Enjoy!