Panelle are Sicilian street sandwiches first introduced to me at the Philadelphia market, Paesano's. Their version starts with a Sicilian chickpea pancake. It's then stuffed with roasted tomatoes, pickled fennel, lettuce, onion, then wrapped up in a handmade flat bread. The spark comes from their “godzuki sauce," a mix of sour cream, lemon juice, garlic, rosemary and hot sauce. Messy, but rather tasty.
Since then I've learned a bit more from my friends Danielle and Salvatore who know a bit or two about Palermo street foods, including panelle. Their version starts with a fritter that is related to a Genoan farinetta and its nearby French relative, soccca as well panisse.
Recently I met up with Danielle and Salvatore at Fernandino's Focacceria in Brooklyn, where I tried their take on a panelle, served with a roll and some fresh lemon wedge. Salvatore explained the intricacies of these delicious sandwiches, explaining the differences in versions.
Inspired, I went home determined to make a batch at work. Rather than sandwiches, though, I made small squares of panelle, serving them with ramps and wild stripped bass on ratatouille, adding just a sprinkle of salt.