Old-School Brooklyn Favorites: Panelle Sandwich / by Anthony Michael Contrino

Photo by Andrea Patton Photography

Photo by Andrea Patton Photography

Sometimes the best things in life are the simplest.  This modest sandwich pays homage the best street food you'll find in Sicily - the chickpea fritter.  Often served between rustic country bread in the mother country, this Brooklynized version slathered in ricotta cream is everything dreams are made of.  

Panelle Sandwich

Serves 6


6 brioche buns, halved

Chickpea Fritters, recipe follows

Ricotta Cream, recipe follows

Non-stick vegetable spray

Vegetable oil, for frying


For the chickpea fritters:

1-1/2 cups chickpea flour

3 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg


For the ricotta cream:

1 pound ricotta cheese

3 tablespoons pecorino, finely grated

1 teaspoon fresh parsley, finely chopped

Pinch of freshly ground black pepper.


Prepare the chickpea fritters.  Spray a sheet pan with non-stick vegetable spray.  Add the chickpea flour, salt, pepper and nutmeg in a medium bowl and stir to combine.  Meanwhile, bring 3 cups of water to a gentle simmer in a medium-sized saucepan.  In a slow, steady stream, add the chickpea flour to the boiling water, whisking constantly to avoid lumps.  Continue to mix constantly, switching to a rubber spatula, if necessary, until the batter thickens.  Dump the batter onto the prepared sheet pan.  Use the back of the spatula to spread the batter into a thin rectangular sheet, between 1/4” and 1/8” in thickness.  Loosely cover the chickpea sheet with plastic wrap and refrigerate until set, about an hour.  

Meanwhile, make the ricotta cream.  Combine the ricotta, pecorino, parsley and pepper and whip until creamy.  Refrigerate until ready to assemble sandwiches.  

Fill a large, high-sided frying pan with a 1/2” of vegetable oil; bring to 350º F.  Meanwhile, cut the set chickpea sheet into 12 equal pieces.  When the oil reaches temperature, fry the chickpea fritters until lightly golden brown, about 2-3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to absorb any excess oil.

To assemble the panelle sandwiches, place two chickpea fritters on the bottom have of the brioche bun.  Dollop with a generous scoop of ricotta cream.  Top with the brioche lid and serve immediately.