I just lit the candles on my menorah and want to wish you a happy Hanukkah if you’re celebrating. You can make latkes or sufganiyot if you’re feeling traditional, or, you can fry up something a little different this year. Recently I made panelle, chickpea fritters eaten as street food all over Sicily, often stuffed into a bun for an on-the-run lunch. Sounds a little like falafel, right?
I first learned of panelle when I was in Sicily over the summer, taking a food writing workshop at Anna Tasca Lanza Cooking School. We made these crispy snacks during our last kitchen lesson and ate them with abandon as a pre-dinner snack. With wine, of course.
For more on our cooking lesson, head over the Forward where I’ve written about the experience. Otherwise, just jump right in with the recipe below.
Happy holidays, everyone!
Panelle chickpea fritters
You can prepare the recipe (adapted from Fabrizia Lanza’s Coming Home to Sicily) in advance cutting the dough into wedges and then refrigerate the raw panelle in a zip top bag with a few paper towels to absorb any moisture, pulling out the dough when you’re ready to fry.
– 2 1/3 cup chickpea flour, preferably Sicilian (or Bob’s Red Mill)
– 3 cups cold water
– Fine sea salt
– Black pepper
– Vegetable or olive oil for frying
Cook. Combine the flour, water and a pinch of salt and pepper in a medium saucepan and whisk until smooth. Cook over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until the mixture thickens considerably (like a very stiff polenta). Reduce the heat if necessary to keep from burning. Cook for a few more minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the mixture pulls away from the sides of the pan.
Dry. Working quickly, spread the mixture with a wooden spatula onto 4 or 5 dinner plates so that it is about ¼-inch thick. Cool for 15 to 20 minutes.
Cut. When the dough is cool, loosen the edges with a small, sharp knife. Peel the dough off the plates and place on a work surface, stacking one on top of another. Cut the stack into 12–16 wedges.
Fry. Heat 2 inches of oil in a large, heavy skillet. Add the chickpea wedges in batches, and fry, flipping occasionally, until golden and crisp, about 3 minutes. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with salt. Serve hot.