In a 2-quart saucepan, dissolve the chickpea flour in water. Using a wooden spoon, mix in the salt and parsley. Place the saucepan over medium heat and continue mixing until ingredients combine to form a thick paste. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the dough to cool.
Fill a deep pot no more than halfway with extra-virgin olive oil. Heat oil over medium-high heat until it reaches a temperature of 350 degrees F. The oil should remain at or around this temperature throughout the cooking process.
Using your palms, shape the chickpea flour dough into oval-shaped fritters, about 2 inches in length.
Working in batches of 6, fry the fritters until golden brown. Use a slotted spoon or spider to gently drop the fritters into the water, being careful not to splatter the hot oil. Using the same spoon or spider, remove the finished fritters to a serving plate. Repeat process until all the panelle are cooked. Sprinkle with grated ricotta salata and warm basic tomato sauce on the side.
Basic tomato sauce:
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 Spanish onion, 1/4-inch dice
4 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
3 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves, or 1 tablespoon dried
1/2 medium carrot, finely grated
2 (28-ounce) cans peeled whole tomatoes, crushed by hand and juices reserved
In a 3-quart saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft and light golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the thyme and carrot and cook 5 minutes more, until the carrot is quite soft. Add the tomatoes and juice and bring to a boil, stirring often. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes until as thick as hot cereal. Season with salt and serve. This sauce holds 1 week in the refrigerator or up to 6 months in the freezer.
Yield: 4 cups
Recipe courtesy of Mario Batali