Herb and Goat cheese Panelle, Mediterranean salsa
(adapted from Food & Wine magazine, Melissa Kelly, 2006)
We’re always looking for gluten-free appetizer options that everyone will enjoy and that pair easily with both white and red wines. Panelle are a Sicilian street food made from a base of chickpea (garbanzo bean) flour, water and salt. The sky’s the limit on what you can put in them or on them. Here, thyme, parsley, scallions and goat cheese are baked into the batter and then the panelle are lightly fried until slightly crispy and topped with a colorful and flavorful salsa. They paired fabulously with the new 2013 Dunamis, Estate Rhone blend.
1 1/3 cups chickpea (garbanzo bean) flour
2 cups tepid water
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon finely ground black pepper
prepared panelle batter
7 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided, plus more for frying as needed
¼ cup finely chopped scallions, green part only
2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley, divided
½ teaspoon dried thyme, or 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh thyme
6 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
1 1/3 cups cherry tomatoes, quartered
½ medium red onion, finely diced
3 tablespoons finely chopped Kalamata olives
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed, drained and finely chopped
1 large clove garlic, pressed
½ jalapeno pepper, seeds and membrane removed, finely chopped
1 tablespoon red wine or balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
1. Make the batter
In a medium bowl with a lid add the chickpea flour, water, salt and pepper and whisk until smooth. Cover and refrigerate 4 – 24 hours.
2. Make the salsa
In a medium bowl combine all ingredients and combine well, set aside or refrigerate for later use.
3. Cook the panelle
Preheat oven to 475°. Add 3 tablespoons olive oil to a 9-inch by 13-inch glass or metal baking dish and place in hot oven for 2-minutes then remove. Tilt dish so olive oil gets evenly distributed on bottom and ¼-inch up the sides. Add scallions and herbs to batter and whisk to combine. Pour batter into warm dish, sprinkle goat cheese on top and bake on middle rack of oven for 20-minutes until golden and cooked through, let cool 10-minutes. Slice into 8 squares and use a spatula to gently remove to a cutting board. Using a sharp knife, carefully slice each square on the diagonal to create 16 triangles. Heat a large cast-iron pan or skillet on medium high heat. Add 2-3 tablespoons of oil and, when hot, add panelle in batches, not crowding the pan, and fry to golden brown and slightly crispy on both sides then gently remove to paper towel-lined plate. May need to add additional oil for additional batches.
Arrange panelle on a platter and top with salsa. Garnish platter with remaining chopped parsley.