Hot, crisp, a little greasy, and easy to eat on the go, pane e panelle is everything a great street food should be — it’s no wonder the chickpea fritter sandwich has been fueling peckish Sicilians since the ninth century. Steven Jarczyk and Daniela Vitale of the Sicilian street food outfit Sfera, a farmers’ market favorite slated to go brick-and-mortar in Edgewater this spring, give the venerable sandwich (which will be on the menu) a decidedly modern spin with a swipe of bright, briny lemon-caper “aïoli” made from cashews, so it’s vegan friendly.
Steven Jarczyk and Daniela Vitale’s Pane e Panelle
Active time:1 hour
Total time:2 hours
Special equipment:Instant-read thermometer, 1-quart deli container
|1 cup||Raw cashews|
|Zest and juice of 1 lemon|
|1||Garlic clove, grated|
|1½ tsp.||Agave nectar|
|3¼ tsp.||Diamond Crystal kosher salt, plus more to taste, divided|
|¼ cup plus 1 Tbsp.||Extra virgin olive oil, divided|
|2½ cups||Chickpea flour (like Bob’s Red Mill brand)|
|3 Tbsp.||Finely chopped fresh parsley|
|3 cups||Vegetable oil|
|¼ cup||Drained capers, rinsed and finely chopped|
|6||Sesame sandwich buns, split|
|Roasted red peppers and lemon wedges for serving|
1. Place cashews in a blender and pulse a few times to chop. Add ¾ cup water, lemon zest and juice, garlic, agave, and 1¼ teaspoon salt. Blend to combine, about 10 seconds. Let aïoli rest for 20 minutes, then blend on high until smooth, about 3 minutes. Pour aïoli into a medium bowl, cover, and refrigerate until thickened, about 1 hour.
2. Meanwhile, coat deli container with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Whisk together 3½ cups cold water, chickpea flour, and 2 teaspoons salt in a large heavy-bottomed pot. Cook over medium heat, whisking constantly until very thick, 10 to 12 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook 5 minutes, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Remove from heat, stir in parsley, and spoon dough into prepared container. Cover, pressing down on dough to compact it, and chill until firm, about 1 hour.
3. Heat vegetable oil to 350 degrees in a large heavy-bottomed pot and line a baking tray with paper towels. Unmold dough and slice into 12 rounds with a serrated knife. Fry three rounds at a time, turning once, until crisp, about 6 minutes. Transfer fritters to prepared tray and sprinkle with salt.
4. Finish aïoli by whisking in remaining olive oil and capers. Taste, then add salt or lemon juice to taste.
5. To assemble sandwiches, spread top and bottom buns with aïoli. Layer each bun with two fritters and a slice of roasted red pepper. Serve immediately, with lemon wedges alongside to squeeze on top.