Chickpea Fritters (Panelle)
Cookbook author Michele Scicolone remembers eating these crisp-edged fritters, accompanied with glasses of chilled Chardonnay, at the home of Anna Tosca Lanza, whose family owns the Regaleali wine estate in central Sicily. In Palermo, panelle are sometimes tucked into sandwich rolls with fresh ricotta cheese for a quick lunch.
- 3 1/2 cups water
- 2 cups Italian chickpea flour
- 2 tsp. salt, plus more, to taste
- Freshly ground pepper, to taste
- Vegetable oil for frying
Line two 15-by-10-by-1-inch jelly roll pans with plastic wrap.
Pour the water into a saucepan, then slowly whisk in the chickpea flour, a little at a time, to prevent lumps from forming. Whisk in the 2 tsp. salt and the pepper. Place over medium-low heat and bring to a simmer, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring, until the mixture is very thick, about 5 minutes.
Pour the batter into the prepared pans, dividing evenly. Using a rubber spatula dipped in water, quickly spread the batter to a thickness of about 1/4 inch. Let cool completely to set the mixture. (The recipe can be prepared up to this point, covered and refrigerated for up to 1 day before continuing.)
Using a knife, cut the cooled sheets of batter into 3-by-2-inch strips, then peel the strips off the plastic wrap. In a large, deep fry pan over medium heat, pour in oil to a depth of 1/2 inch. Heat until the oil sizzles when a small piece of a strip is dropped into it. Carefully lower a few of the strips into the hot oil; do not crowd the pan. Fry, turning once, until golden brown and slightly puffed, 3 to 4 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the fritters to paper towels to drain. Keep warm while you fry the remaining pieces.
Arrange the fritters on a warmed platter, season with salt and serve immediately. Serves 8 to 10.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Savoring Series, Savoring Italy, by Michele Scicolone (Time-Life Books, 1999).