“Panelle” are a specialty of Palermo (also found in Trapani, Agrigento and Sciacca) and represent the fried version of the chickpea polenta that hails from Genoa. This is another example of a food most likely introduced by the Arabs that ruled Sicily between the 9th and 11th century.
Panelle continue to be eaten today in Palermo, in the middle of round rolls covered with sesame seeds and often accompanied by mint and potato croquets (the so-called cazzilli). This is the characteristic snack eaten on the street, purchased from the numerous shops selling fried foods, as well as street vendors, scattered throughout the city.
- 400 g chickpea flour
- 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
- pepper and, if desired, a sprig of chopped parsley
In a large pot mix the chickpea flour and water. Cook over a low flame, stirring continuously with a wooden spatula to prevent lumps from forming, until the mixture has a dense and creamy consistency that easily detaches from the sides of the pot. Transfer the mixture onto a working surface, smooth it out to obtain ½ cm thick layer and allow to cool. Cut the panelle into the preferred shape (diamonds, half-moon, disks) then fry them in a pan with plenty of oil. When both sides are golden drain on absorbent paper and serve piping hot, with a sprinkling of freshly ground pepper.