|Chickpea Fries (Panelle)|
Makes: 4 to 6 appetizer servings
Time: 45 minutes
Among the best appetizers ever, these fries are crisp, tasty, and satisfying. They can be made in a relatively short time or ahead (up to cooking them), flavored in at least a dozen different ways, and cut into all kinds of shapes. Serve them over and over with slight variations in form and flavor, and no one will ever suspect it’s all the same basic recipe. Skip the cheese and the fries are vegan.
Neutral oil, like corn or grapeseed, for greasing and frying
1 cup chickpea flour, sifted
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Finely grated Parmesan cheese for garnish (optional)
1. Grease a baking sheet or pizza pan with a rim and set aside. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a medium pot. Gradually add the chickpea flour, with a large pinch of salt and pepper, whisking constantly to prevent lumps from forming. Reduce to a gentle bubble, stir in the olive oil, and cook for just a minute.
2. Scoop the chickpea mixture onto the prepared pan and spread into an even layer. Let cool for a few minutes and then cover loosely with parchment or plastic. Refrigerate until chilled through, about 30 minutes (but up to a day, covered tightly after it’s completely cool).
3. Put enough oil to come to a depth of at least 1/8 inch (1/4 inch is better) in a large skillet over medium heat. Meanwhile, cut the chickpea mixture into 3 x 1/2-inch fries (or into triangles, or rounds using a cookie cutter). Gently put batches of the fries in the hot oil, gently rotating them for even cooking and browning on all sides, about 3 to 4 minutes.
4. Drain the fries on paper towels and immediately sprinkle with salt, lots of pepper, and a good dusting of Parmesan if you like. Serve hot or at room temperature with lemon wedges or a dipping sauce (try tomato sauce, garlic mayonnaise, ketchup, chutney, yogurt sauce or raita, or tahini sauce).
Peanut and Chickpea Fries. The peanut flour adds a great nutty flavor—serve savory or sweet, sprinkled with confectioners’ sugar: Replace half of the chickpea flour with peanut flour. Proceed with the recipe.
12 Fabulous Additions to Chickpea Fries
Most of these are best stirred into the chickpea mixture just before spreading it into the prepared pan. Try combinations like chopped parsley with lemon zest and capers; cilantro, green olives, and preserved lemon; or sage, sunflower seeds, and pecorino.
1. Chopped fresh herbs, like parsley, basil, cilantro, chives, tarragon, dill, sage, thyme, or rosemary
2. Minced raw garlic or several cloves roasted garlic
3. Chopped scallion or shallot
4. Grated lemon zest
5. Chopped or sliced black or green olives
6. Chopped or sliced fresh chiles
7. Chopped sun-dried tomatoes
8. Chopped preserved lemon
9. Chopped or whole capers
10. Pine nuts, pumpkin seeds, or sunflower seeds
11. Spice mixtures like curry powder or chaat masala
12. Finely grated hard cheeses, like Parmesan, pecorino, Asiago, manchego, or Comté
Spread the chickpea mixture on a rectangular sheet and let it firm up. Then you can cut it into triangles or fries before deep-frying.