Warm pita, lemon mayo, custardy crisp panelle, fennel-olive-orange salad. Eat it at Clover, or make it at home. Passport not required.
We had no idea what the word Panelle meant when a customer first told us about it. He had grown up in Sicily, the triangular island south of mainland Italy. His mom would make a snack for him after school, made from chickpea flour that was cooked, cooled, then cut into squares and fried. Crispy on the outside, creamy and custardy on the inside, almost egg-like even though it’s totally vegan.
Our Panelle obsession began.
We made our own version, tested it on customers. People were going crazy for this fried chickpea cake with a hard-to-pronounce name.
(Btw it’s pronounced pa-ne-lle, emphasis on the final syllable. Thanks Martina for the pronunciation guide.)
But we could not rest until we knew everything there was to know.
That’s me and Ethan (our former systems engineer) hopping a plane from Rome to Calabria, where a windy industrial ferry awaited us to take us to the port of Catania. Then it was on to Palermo, to taste Panelle in its home. These fried chickpea snacks were everywhere in Sicily, nestled into sesame buns, from fancy restaurants to street corner stands.
Our version starts with our homemade pita bread, lemon mayo, our panelle cake, and a salad made with ingredients inspired by the flavors and aromas we experienced in Sicily: olives, citrus, and fennel grown at Next Barn Over on the fertile banks of the Connecticut River Valley. If you’ve never had fennel before, it’s slightly licorice-y, but mild, almost thirst-quenching if that makes sense. The perfect foil to panelle’s crispy creamy goodness.
We missed out on Panelle last year because of Covid. So this year we are going to make up for lost time. Get it in the restaurants starting tomorrow at 11am.
And for the first time ever, YOU CAN MAKE PANELLE AT HOME!
We’ve built a kit that you can order straight to your door. You’ll warm panelle squares on a griddle or pan. We’ll teach you how to make our orange-lemon vinaigrette, which you’ll toss over already-sliced fennel with olives. You’ll toast pita, spread lemon mayo inside, nestle panelle and a handful of salad. It’s like a trip to Sicily, right in your own backyard, no Covid test required to fly.
Free Gift! Be one of the first 150 people to order the BYO Panelle Sandwich Kit, and we’ll tuck in a mini version of this Panelle Poster designed by Lucia (hey, that’s me!), featuring the ancient ruins that we saw in Sicily.