Similar to the southern French “socca,” this Sicilian chickpea fritter or “panelle” is crispy, savory, and easy to make! These snacks are especially popular as street food in Sicily. Served in Palermo between two slices of country bread and topped with ricotta and pecorino romano cheese or simple herbs like parsley and rosemary.
Chickpeas were probably introduced into Sicily in neolithic times from peoples arriving from the eastern Mediterranean during the island’s “Proto-Sicanian” period. High in fiber, vitamins, and minerals, chickpeas are particularly healthy.

INGREDIENTS

*Organic ingredients recommended

  • 2 cups chickpea flour
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 ½ teaspoons coarse sea salt (preferably Sicilian)
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil, for frying

PREPARATIONS

  1. Lightly oil an 8- by 4-inch loaf pan (6-cup capacity) and line with parchment paper, leaving a 2-inch overhang at each end.  
  2. Whisk together water, chickpea flour, sea salt, and 2 tablespoons oil in a 2 ½- to 3-quart heavy saucepan until smooth.
  3. Then cook over moderate heat, stirring until very thick and mixture pulls away from side of pan, 20 to 25 minutes.
  4. Transfer mixture to loaf pan, smoothing top.  Cool, uncovered, then chill, surface of mixture covered with plastic wrap, until  firm, at least 3 hours.
  5. Lift chickpea block out of pan using parchment and transfer to a work surface.  
  6. Gently flip over block and discard parchment, then pat dry. Cut block crosswise into ¼-inch-thick slices for panelle.
  7. Preheat oven to 300°F.
  8. Heat ½ inch oil (about 2 cups) in a deep 10-inch heavy skillet until it registers 375°F on thermometer, then fry panelle in 5 batches,  carefully turning occasionally with tongs, until golden and puffed, 3 to 5 minutes per batch, and transfer to paper towels to drain.
  9. Keep warm on baking sheet in oven while frying remaining batches.  
  10. Arrange panelle on a platter and sprinkle parsley.  Serve immediately.

Source:

http://www.thekitchn.com/panelle-sicilian-chickpea-frit-126607
http://www.bestofsicily.com/mag/art433.htm
https://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/chickpea-fritters-231982
https://cookpad.com/us/recipes/338598-scicilian-panelle-special
http://www.winemag.com/gallery/classic-at-home-sicilian-cooking-recipes/#gallery-carousel-2

Rice timballo, named after the mold it is cooked in, “timbale,” is an elaborate layered dish from eastern Sicily and is said to derive from Catania during the time of Arab occupation.  A dish for all special occasions, timballo can be made with rice, potatoes, or pasta.  Because it is so filling and can be time-consuming to make, timballo is mostly eaten on Sundays, holidays, and special occasions.  

INGREDIENTS

*Organic ingredients recommended

  • 5 tablespoons Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
  • ½ stick salted butter
  • 1 shallot or white onion, finely chopped
  • 2 ¼ arborio rice
  • Scant 1 cup white wine
  • 1 pound 3 ounces cherry tomato sauce
  • 3 ½ cups vegetable stock or hot water
  • 3 1/1 ounces Grana Padano, finely grated
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 four-ounce balls mozzarella
  • 2 cups squeezed out spinach (from approximately 2 pounds 3 ounces fresh leaves or 1 pound 2 ounces frozen spinach)
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled, and lightly crushed
  • Handful basil leaves

Cherry Tomato Sauce:

  • 1 carrot, roughly chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, roughly chopped
  • 1 white onion, roughly chopped
  • 5 tablespoons Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 pounds, 3 ounces cherry tomatoes on the vine or 2 pounds, 10 ounces canned cherry or whole plum tomatoes
  • 1 sprig basil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1-2 teaspoons sugar (optional)

PREPARATIONS

For the Sauce

  1. Fry the carrot, celery, and onion in the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat for around 10 minutes or until soft.
  2. Add the tomatoes with a few of their stalks (if using fresh) to the pan with the basil and seasoning and cook over a medium heat with a lid on.  
  3. Stir frequently, bashing the tomatoes with a potato masher to break them up.  
  4. Bring to a boil, then remove the lid and reduce the heat to a low simmer and cook for around 30-40 minutes.
  5. Check the seasoning and adjust as necessary, adding a teaspoon of sugar if the tomatoes still taste acidic.
  6. Use the sauce as it is or remove the basil and stalks and use a stick blender to blend the sauce to a smooth, velvety consistency.

For the Timbale

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Heat 3 tablespoons of the oil and the butter in a frying pan and fry the shallot until soft, then add the rice.  Toast the rice for around 3 minutes -- it will start to crackle -- then add the wine.
  2. Allow the wine to evaporate and reduce for another 3 minutes, then add the tomato sauce and 2 ½ cups of the stock.  Stir through frequently, keeping the heat to medium, and add a little more stock as necessary until you have a firm, thick risotto, which should take around 20 minutes.
  3. Add 3 ounces of the Grana Padano and stir through.  Season to taste and remove from the heat.
  4. Cut the mozzarella into ½ inch slices and put into a colander to drain.  Sauté the spinach in the remaining oil flavored with the garlic and season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
  5. Spread half of the tomatoey rice in the bottom of a 12 x 8 1/4 -inch ovenproof dish at least 2 inches deep.
  6. Then add the spinach, followed by a layer of mozzarella and half of  the Grana Padano.  Follow this with the basil leaves, the remaining rice and top with the red of the Grana Padano.
  7. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes.  Serve immediately & enjoy!

Sources:

http://www.foodrepublic.com/recipes/make-sicilian-rice-timballo/
https://www.cookingwithnonna.com/italian-cuisine/sicilian-timballo.html
http://www.the-pasta-project.com/parmigiana-timballo-ziti-zitoni/

Pasta con le sarde is a seasonal dish, you’ll find between the months of March and September (when the freshly caught sardines are at their best).  It’s the “finocchietto” or wild fennel that really makes this dish.   Theories that pasta con le sarde was born in Mazara del Vallo are common, but the rapid evolution and diffusion of this recipe make it an everlasting mystery.  Nowadays, pasta con le sarde is considered a Sicilian recipe with some local variations.  But Palermo is the city that more vigorously claims to be the birthplace of sardines pasta.

INGREDIENTS

*Organic ingredients recommended

  • 3 ¾ cups fresh sardines (substitute for canned if necessary)
  • 2 ½ cups finocchietto (wild fennel tops)
  • 2 salted anchovies, rinsed of salt
  • 2 small red onions, finely chopped
  • ⅓ cup of pine nuts
  • ⅓ cup of sultanas (or raisins), softened in hot water
  • Saffron (optional)
  • Half a wineglass of white wine
  • 3 cups Sicilian Busiati pasta (or Spaghetti)
  • Handful of breadcrumbs, toasted (optional)

PREPARATIONS

  1. Clean the sardine fillets by removing heads, tails, innards, and dorsal fin, rinse and pat dry then chop roughly.  
  2. Blanch the wild fennel (hard stalks removed) in a large pot of salted water (keep this water for then cooking the pasta in).  Simmer for about 10 minutes, remove the fennel with tongs, drain well, and chop finely.  Set aside.
  3. In a skillet, heat some olive oil over low heat and cook the anchovies and onion until the anchovies melt down.
  4. Add the sardines, pine nuts, and raisins (drained), stirring to brown the fish on all sides.  
  5. If using the saffron, infuse it in a glass of hot water and when the water has taken on that golden color, add it to the pan.  Add the chopped fennel tops and the white wine and continue cooking.
  6. Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti in the water where the fennel was cooked.  When al dente, add it to the pan with the fennel tops and toss to combine.  
  7. Serve with a handful of toasted breadcrumbs sprinkled on top, if desired.  

Sources:

http://www.emikodavies.com/blog/pasta-con-le-sarde/
http://philosokitchen.com/sicilian-sardines-pasta-sarde/
http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/pasta-con-le-sarde

Sicilian meat rolls are a dish of long-time tradition and a dish that comes in many forms. It most often consists of thinly sliced veal or pork with a sauce stuffing within. Popular variations include tomato-wine redux, caper and lemon sauce, mushroom-wine redux, or pizza style tomato sauce. The delicious fillings not only vary from city to city in Sicily, but also from family to family.

To define yourself as Sicilian, it’s not only necessary to use the right filling, but also to place them along the steak alternating between laurel leaves and onion petals.

INGREDIENTS

*Organic ingredients recommended

  • 1 pound veal cutlets, very thinly sliced and pounded out (if needed) to be about ⅛ - ¼ inch thick
  • ¼ cup Extra-Virgin Olive Oil, or more as needed
  • 3 cups Italian seasoned breadcrumbs, or more as needed
  • 2 cups tomato sauce, any kind, though homemade is preferred
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely minced
  • 4 ounces Pecorino Romano cheese, cut into small chunks
  • 20 slices Genoa salami, very thinly sliced (about 1 slice per cutlet), optional
  • Toothpicks, optional
  • Dried bay leaves, optional

PREPARATIONS

To Bread the Cutlets

  1. Arrange a work space by filling a medium, shallow bowl with oil and filling another medium, shallow bowl with about 2 cups of breadcrumbs.  Working one at a time, dip each cutlet in oil, allowing the excess to drip off, and then dredge in breadcrumbs.  Set aside.

To Make the Filling

  1. Mix together the tomato sauce, onions, and cheese, then add a few handfuls of seasoned breadcrumbs a little at a time until the mixture is the consistency of runny oatmeal - but not too wet.  If it’s too saucy it will ooze out when you roll these up.

To Assemble the Spiedini

  1. Create an assembly line by placing a stack of breaded cutlets next to a stack of sliced salami (if using), and the bowl of filling.  Place a few cutlets down on a cutting board, then lay a piece or two of salami (if using) on top.  
  2. Place a heaping teaspoon of filling on top of the salami, being careful not to put too much.  At this point, you can choose to roll them up like cigars or bunch the meat up into a pouch and use two toothpicks to hold it closed.
  3. Place the spiedini into a greased baking dish.  Be sure to pack them in tight, as this will help them cook evenly.  Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  4. Once all the spiedini are made, spoon any extra sauce, onion, or breadcrumb mixture into any holes in the pan.  Use it all up to help keep the spiedini moist, and not to waste any.  
  5. If you don’t have any mixture left, you can mix together a little sauce and breadcrumbs.  No need to chop more onions and cheese for this part if you don’t have any left.
  6. Break up some pieces of dried bay leaves and tuck them in between each spiedini.  This is optional, but gives them a nice subtle flavor.
  7. Cover the pan with foil and bake for 15 minutes.  Remove the foil and bake for another 10 minutes or so until the breadcrumbs are golden brown.  Serve hot or warm.  

Sources:

http://coleycooks.com/spiedini-alla-siciliana/
http://www.umass.edu/journal/sicilyprogram/typicaldishes.html
https://cucina.fanpage.it/involtini-di-carne-ripieni-un-piatto-della-tradizione-siciliana/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scaloppine

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