Sicilian Chickpea Chips – healthy and moorish
Watching Fabrizia Lanza prepare this dish in the kitchen of Case Vecchie was a study in wonder. We watched, with our cameras and notebooks poised and, as each step unfolded, we were no closer to imaging the last.
The result served to us with a traditional Aperol Spritz (The classic Italian drink is prepared with Prosecco wine, with a dash of Aperol) in the courtyard of the old stone house, the late afternoon light receding over the hills. We could not stop eating them.
At first glance, “Panelle” as they are called in Sicily, look a little bit like fat corn chips but these delicious puffy morsels are a revelation. They have a nourishing nutty taste and the flavour of olive oil without any greasiness.
Made with healthy chickpea flour (see our nutritional notes at the end of the post) and lightly fried in good olive oil … what’s not to love about these salty nibbles?
- 2 1/2 cups chickpea flour (I bought mine at Case Vecchie and carried it all the way home)
- 3 cups cold water
- Fine sea salt and black pepper
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
- Vegetable oil (or olive oil for frying)
- 5-6 dinner plates
- wooden spatula
- medium saucepan
- wooden spoon
Combine the chickpea flour and water and a pinch of salt and pepper in a medium saucepan and whisk until smooth.
Cook over medium heat whisking constantly until the mixture thickens considerably (like a very stiff polenta). Reduce the heat if necessary so it doesn’t burn.
Cook for a few more minutes stirring with a wooden spoon until the mixture pulls away from the sides of the pan. Add the finely chopped parsley.
Working quickly, Fabrizia spread the mixture with a wooden spatula on 4 or 5 dinner plates so that its a bout 1/4 inch think (a bit like she was painting the dinner plate with the mixture) You must make to evenly cover the plate.
Then she set them aside to cool for about 15-20 minutes. (When I made it, I pressed in a few fresh sage leave on top of one plate while it was still warm and the shape of my plate meant that I couldn’t spread it right to the edge as Fabrizia did)
When the paste is cool, slide a small sharp knife under the edge of the cooled paste to loosen it from the plate and gently peel the circle of paste off the plate and place on to a clean work space. Stack them on top of each other one by one, like pancakes (you can wrap them in plastic wrap at this stage if you don’t want to cook them till later)
Cut the whole stack into 8-16 wedges depending on the size of the plate. Now heat 3 cm (1 inch) of oil in a heavy fry pan. Carefully add the chickpea wedges one at a time and fry, gently flipping then occasionally until they are golden and crisp (about 3 minutes). You can also flash fry a few sage leaves for decoration. Some of my wedges broke up a bit because I didn’t spread it very evenly. But they still tasted delicious!
Lift them out to drain on a paper towel or baking paper, sprinkle with salt at parsley and serve hot.
This recipe is adapted from Fabrizia’s book “Coming home to Sicily” and notes taken in her cooking class in Sicily.
Chickpea Flour – Nutritional information “It has fewer calories and carbs than either whole-wheat or all-purpose white flour, yet it’s a better source of protein. Chickpea flour has double the amount of protein than whole-wheat flour and six times more than all-purpose flour. It’s an excellent source of folate, containing seven times more folate than whole-wheat flour. It even has more folate than enriched all-purpose flour. It also provides vitamin B-6, iron, magnesium and potassium.” (for more info livestrong.com.au)