At first I wasn’t game enough to try Street Food although, honestly, the tang of fresh cooked goodies in the air had me slavering at times.
In Siracusa I tentatively bought a small bag of some sugary, fried, honey sweet things which tasted scrumptious but left me seriously regretful the next day. Still, I had a reputation to maintain! My neighbours believed I was a brave adventurer, a plucky little pensioner all on her own in a strange land, how could I tarnish such a courageous image?
So I dabbled in various sticky, fried items from street stalls. That’s how I was introduced to panelle and the best panelle was in Mercato Ballaro in Palermo.
Panelle Sandwich from a Street Stall in Ballaro
Panelle is the Queen of street food, a basic mixture of water and chickpea flour cooked into a porridge, and then cooled until firm, cut into pieces, and fried in olive oil.
The initial cooking requires quite a bit of stirring, but you can make it ahead of time if you don’t want to hang about in the kitchen.
Serve as is, or top the warm fritters with sea salt, freshly ground pepper, lemon juice, grated pecorino, or herbs like flat leaf parsley, Italian basil, rosemary or mint.
I’ve added an egg to the traditional recipe, I find it makes a better mix to work with.
Caciocavallo is a common cheese in Sicily. I only ever saw it made from sheeps milk but I know it’s also made from cows milk. I had a nice smoked slab in Agrigento too.
If you can’t get caciocavallo, use reggiano, or parmiagiano.
- 1 cup chickpea flour
- 2 cups water
- 1/2 bunch fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Extra-virgin olive oil plus more to fill a deep pan no more than halfway full
- 1 garlic clove, sliced
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup Caciocavallo cheese
- Take a large pot, dissolve the chickpea flour in 2 cups water.
- Stir in 1/2 bunch chopped parsley, salt, extra-virgin olive oil, 1 sliced garlic clove and egg.
- Place the saucepan over medium heat and continue mixing until ingredients combine to form a thick paste.
- Remove the pan from the heat and allow the dough to cool.
- Place oil in large pan and heat
- With your palms, shape the chickpea flour dough into oval-shaped fritters, about 2 inches in length.
- Use a slotted spoon to gently drop spoonfuls of the fritters into the oil, being careful not to splatter the hot oil.
- Working in batches of 6, fry the fritters until golden brown.
- Using the same spoon, remove the finished fritters to a serving plate
- Garnish with parsley and cheese