What an exciting week past it has been! A feature on The Huffington Post and a photo exhibited at the Cape Town iPhoneography exhibition. I am feeling quite lucky that my work is getting noticed and it has given me even more of a drive to create as beautiful and interesting images as I can.
But this post is about travel. And food. And the memories of both which are so interlinked for me and for many others I’m sure. I can not think back to a trip without instantly thinking back to food highlights of the trip. Rabbit ravioli and daily doses of gelato in Rome, a fine dining experience of a life time at Le Bernardin in New York and the simplest grilled seafood lunch with the tastiest caponata ever in Palermo.
In fact, I think about Palermo on a regular basis. It is one of those places that has made such an impact on me. We only spent a short 3 days in the city but I have a constant need to get back, spend more time there and explore the rest of Sicily. The beauty, the ugly, the chaotic traffic, the food and rhythm of the city is something I just have to experience again. I have read that Sicily claims to have invented street food and Palermo is dotted with vendors selling panella, arancini, sfincione and pani ca meusa. It truly is a feast for the senses, made all the better with a generous follow up of Sicilian ice cream and cannoli.
This chickpea fritters recipe is a throwback to those memories. Known as panella and often served in a bread roll, I wanted to give it a more dinner party feel and topped it with marinated zucchini. They are delicious and the acidity of the dressing cuts the oiliness from all the shallow frying.
You can use the fritters as a base for any topping. Roasted tomatoes or any roasted veggie with a zesty, acidic dressing will work so well.
- 1 pack medium sized zucchini (about 8)
- ½ cup olive oil (for frying)
- handful roughly chopped fresh Italian parsley
- 2 cloves of garlic chopped
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp sugar
- 2 tbsp good quality extra virgin olive oil
- 4 tblsp white wine or apple cider vinegar
- 2 cups chickpea flour
- 4 cups water
- 1 tsp salt
- oil for shallow frying
- Add the parsley, garlic, salt, sugar, 2 tablespoons olive oil and the vinegar and toss.
- Cut the courgette in half and then slice lengthwise about half a cm in thickness.
- Pour the ½ cup olive oil in a small frying pan and heat on medium high heat.
- Once the oil is hot (not boiling) add zucchini slices in a single layer in the pan (do it in batches) and fry until golden.
- Remove from the oil and drain on paper towels.
- Mix with the marinade while still warm and set aside.
- Brush a baking dish of about 30cm x 30cm lightly with oil
- Whisk together the water, chickpea flour and salt in a heavy saucepan until smooth.
- Cook over a moderate heat, stirring constantly with a whisk until the mixture is very thick – should resemble a thick white sauce – for about 15 minutes.
- Transfer the mixture to the baking dish and smooth the top.
- Cool uncovered, then chill with the surface covered with plastic wrap until set for about 2 hours.
- Turn the set mixture out and slice into 5cm x 5cm squares.
- Heat the oil to a medium heat and fry the fritters in batches, turning over once, until golden brown.
- Drain well on paper towels and keep warm while frying the rest.
- Serve with the marinated zucchini.
Wine suggestion by Conrad Louw CWM : The Panella can be eaten as a tapas component or as side dish for a great el fresco dinner. If it is the latter, the wine will be chosen based on the rest of the summer feast. However, should you choose to make this a vegetarian dish on its own, then keep it uncomplicated and enjoy the fresh herbaceous flavours of the dish with a wine equally refreshing. So for white wine drinkers, enjoy something which can compliment the acidly of the apple cider vinegar. My mind jumps immediately to the great range of sassy Sauvignon Blancs available from all over, but I would lean towards the slightly cooler climates where the Sauvignon Blancs offers fresh acidity with some minerality and more herbaceous tones on the midpalate. Often Sauvignon Blancs can be very linear in fruit profile, so look for a wine that you can reward yourself with. I think that Durbanville’s Nitida’s Sauvignon Blanc offers a typical fresh acidity with a fruit profile that blows the mind. Even hints of passion fruit will be surprisingly complimentary to the ingredients of the courgettes and herbs and cuts through the slight oiliness of the cooking process.
For the red wine drinkers, as well as if you want to make this Panella part of an ensemble of other dishes, I would suggest a slightly lighter style red, but one which can still stand its ground to other sharp flavours. Raka’s Sangiovese has a tomato bush herbaceous nose which follows through on the palate. Ideal for vegetarian and/or tomato-based dishes. Try something different and see how food-friendly this Italian variety can be.