There is a reason that street foods are eternal and craved relentlessly; they’re just damned good. When you load your diet with legumes, you’re always after new ways to be creative with them. In my opinion, the queen bean is without a doubt the garbanzo. Call it ceci, chickpea or Bengal gram, it’s still the reigning sovereign of many vegan’s diets and a favorite of omnivores the world over.
Here I celebrate and pay homage to panelle, a Sicilian street eat that is traditionally served as a simple sandwich filling on a bun. One of the reasons that I love panelle so much is because, when pan-fried and warm, it has that contrasting textural thing going on with the crispy edges and a velvety soft interior. It is, hands down, a great sandwich.
Panelle [Chickpea Polenta]
1 ½ cups garbanzo bean flour
2 cups vegetable broth
2 tsp dried oregano
Pinch of salt
Freshly-cracked black pepper
Slowly add broth to the flour while whisking to avoid lumps. Add in the oregano, salt and pepper. Cook for 10-15 minutes over medium heat, stirring the entire time. (It does not need to boil and shall spit molten chickpea lava at you if you do let it boil, so be careful.) It is going to be very thick once finished but you want it to have that consistency because you want a substantial texture for a sandwich filling.
Transfer panelle to a non-stick pan and tamp down with a spatula. (I used a loaf pan sprayed with olive oil.) Place into the refrigerator until chilled solid. Invert onto a cutting board and slice into 1/2 inch thick slices. You can either pan fry in oil (as is traditional) to crisp it up or do as I did and simply give a quick spray of olive oil to each slice and place in a pan until the sides are golden.
As always, my predilection for the savory-sweet combination shines through here. I like to add a nice slather of apricot jam to my panelle sandwich, though it’s entirely up to you how you wish to assemble your own masterpiece.
[This slightly-modified post/recipe was originally published at VelvetPark last year. I wanted it here, on my personal blog, because it is one of my favorites and I felt it was important to include it here in my collection/index.]