Thursday, August 27, 2009

Impressing Vegetarians

Sicilian Chickpea Fritters, Pasta with Artichoke Hearts

Hello again! I return from a triumphant eight weeks in Moscow, Russia. Lacking a kitchen in my dorm room on Ulitsa Skakovaya, I've done almost nothing but make up for it since my return, and have been cooking almost non-stop. After revisiting old favorites already posted, I tried something new last night- and I actually took a picture of it!

You see, my roommate brought someone over for dinner- he's a vegetarian, and I wanted to serve up some veggie-friendly protein that wasn't a bean salad. So I modified a Sicilian recipe I'd been meaning to try for a while. Panelles are a simple fritter traditionally made from chickpea flour with some parsley, salt and pepper, lightly pan-fried. Since these aren't true panelles, I won't call them that- I substituted a can of chick peas for half of the flour in the original recipe. You can eyeball this one- the texture will let you know when it's ready. I served this alongside a very simple but extremely tasty veggie pasta, and a simple tomato basil salad.

In case you were wondering, I usually fry and sautee in either vegetable or safflower oil. This time I used sunflower oil, which gives everything a nice buttery, nutty flavor while still being fairly healthy. Olive oil has a low smoking point and I don't prefer it for high-heat activities like frying or browning garlic. Long exposure to heat messes with the delicate taste of olive oil and its healthy properties, so I usually reserve it for use as a flavoring, adding it at the end of cooking.

Sicilian-Style Chickpea Fritters

1 can chickpeas, drained
1 1/2 cups chickpea flour
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp anise seeds
2 cups water
2 tbsp fresh chopped parsley
*1/2 tsp hot pepper flakes (optional)
1/4 cup vegetable or sunflower oil (for frying)

In a pan over medium heat, mix together the chickpeas, chickpea flour, seasonings, and water, stirring constantly. Mash up the whole chickpeas as much as possible while you stir. If the mixture begins to thicken too fast, add a little water. Once the mixture reaches a boil, it will begin to thicken fast- when it becomes a dense paste (after 5-8 minutes), remove it from the heat, and pour it out onto an oiled cookie sheet, pressing it into a layer about 1/2 inch thick. Let the mixture cool, and once it is cooled and firm, cut it into evenly-sized pieces at least 2 inches across. Fry them in a small amount of oil until golden brown on both sizes, and serve.

Pasta with Artichoke Hearts

2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 large shallot, chopped
1 12 oz. jar marinated artichoke hearts
1 12 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained
1 cup white wine
2 zucchini, sliced
2 tsp. capers in vinegar, rinsed
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp dried basil, crushed
2 tbsp fresh basil, shredded
1 tsp black pepper
Salt to taste
*sprinkle of sugar (if needed)
3/4 lb. angel hair pasta

In a pan on medium heat, sautee the garlic and shallot in a small amount of vegetable oil. Add the wine, artichoke hearts in their liquid, and tomatoes, and stir. Add the zucchini, lower heat, and simmer until the alcohol in the wine has cooked off. Season to taste with lemon juice, salt, pepper, basil, and capers, adding a sprinkle of sugar if it seems too tart. Once the pasta is cooked, strain and toss with the sauce, adding the olive oil.


adele said...

Huh. So the process for making panelles is like that of making fried polenta?

Foodichka said...

Pretty close.

Victoria said...

This looks amazing...I need to make it this week