Sicilian Chickpea Sandwiches: Pane e Panelle

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Pane (bread) é Panelle is a popular snack food throughout Sicily, but especially Palermo.  These fritters made of chickpea flour are crispy, light, and flavorful.  Chickpea flour is high in protein and has a mild sweetness. They are traditionally served in soft rolls as a sandwich (panino); but they can also be served as an appetizer, cut into small squares and fried.

SICILIAN CHICKPEA FRITTER SANDWICHES: PANE É PANELLE

Difficulty rating: Easy
Makes 8 small sandwiches.

Ingredients:
2 1/2 cups cold water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 cups chickpea (garbanzo) flour, sifted
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
Ground black pepper
2 tablespoons grated Pecorino-Romano or Parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped
Olive oil for frying
8 small Italian or French bread rolls

Coat a 9×13 inch baking pan generously with olive oil and set aside.  Place the water, olive oil, and salt in a 5-quart Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed sauce pan.  Using a wire whisk, gradually stir in the chickpea flour until the mixture is smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.  Cook over medium heat stirring continuously until the mixture is thickened and comes away from the sides of the pan, approximately 20 minutes.  Turn off heat, and using the whisk, quickly stir in the cheese and parsley until smooth.

Immediately pour the mixture onto the greased pan and quickly smooth into an even layer using a wet spatula.  Cover the top with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours and up to 3 days.

Heat a 1/4-inch layer of olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat.  Cut the panelle mixture into 8 rectangles, or into small squares if serving as an appetizer without bread.  Fry several at a time until golden brown and crispy on each side, drain on paper towels.  Serve each panelle in a roll.

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