Panelle Special

Most people have never tried a Panelle sandwich.  I like to refer to it as an Italian Falafel sandwich.  Though it's much heavier, it's a really satisfying sandwich.  I grew up eating this at Ferdinando's Focacceria, where my grandfather used to take me as a kid in Brooklyn.  Things change, and sometimes making your own version of a classic is an ode to the memories that you've had.  For me, I'll always think of my grandfather whenever I eat one of these, so I thought it was time to at least experiment with my own version.

Making the panelle isn't that hard, it's similar to making polenta.  You have to slowly whisk chickpea flour into water to avoid lumps.  Once it starts to pull away from the sides of the pan, you then spread it out onto a sheet pan in a very thin layer.  Customarily, wooden molds are used to spread the mixture onto each mold.  Then once it cools, you can cut them into shapes and fry them in vegetable oil until they puff and become light, brown, and crisp.  I paired mine with some homemade ricotta that I made with whole milk and heavy cream.  I then topped it off with some salty chards of Pecorino Romano, which stand up and give the sandwich some  affirmative kick.  The sesame seed roll is crucial for the flavor profile of this sandwich.  The best sesame seed rolls for this can be found at Caputo's Bakery in Brooklyn.  They're the perfect vehicle for this.

 Once you eat this, be sure you have some downtime for a nap, it's a sandwich that deserves respect.