These snacks are eaten on market days or the saint‘s day of a town or village. They are perfect to be shared among friends and are great with drinks to start an evening. Sun-dried tomatoes marinated in oregano and olive oil can be added to the ricotta mixture with or without the anchovies. Or try pieces of cooked bacon or coarsely chopped pitted olives instead. You can even omit the anchovies and simply use fresh herbs such as basil and parsley, or arugula.

– Serves 6–8.
– 2 small cakes (0.6oz each) fresh yeast.
– 1 cup hot water (about 110°F/43°C).
– 4–5½ cups semolina flour.
– ¾ cup fresh ricotta.
– 4 salt-packed anchovies, chopped.
– 1 tbsp salt-packed capers, rinsed, drained, squeezed dry, and chopped.
– 1 tsp chopped fennel fronds or.
– ½ tsp crushed fennel seeds.
– pinch of sea salt.
– pinch of sugar.
– light olive oil for deep frying.
– freshly ground black pepper.


Step 1: Mix the yeast with a little of the hot water to make a paste. Put the semolina flour in a large bowl. Make a well in the center, add the yeast paste and the remaining hot water, and whisk to make a batter. Let rise in a warm, draft-free spot for 2 hours, as you would with bread dough.
Step 2: Mix the ricotta with the anchovy and capers. Add lots of black pepper and the fennel, salt, and sugar. Roll the ricotta mixture into balls about 3⁄4in (2cm) in diameter. Use a little oil on your hands so that they do not stick. Heat the oil in a heavy pan over medium-high heat. Dip the balls into the batter and, using a spoon, drop very gently into the pan to avoid splattering. Cook for 4–5 minutes or until golden brown on all sides. Drain on paper towels and serve at once.

Note : Panelle (chickpea fritters) This much-loved snack is often served sandwiched in a ciabatta roll. It is best eaten piping hot and fresh from the oven. Mix 3¾ cups chickpea flour with a pinch of salt, 2 tbsp olive oil, and 5½ cups water in a heavy saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring continuously with a wooden spoon, to prevent the mixture from sticking. Continue cooking for 20 minutes, or until the mixture starts to pull away from the edges. Season with salt and black pepper. Line a bread pan with plastic wrap. Pour the batter into the pan, and cover the surface with another layer of plastic wrap. Let sit until firm, at least 2 hours. Heat a baking sheet in the oven at 400°F (200°C). Turn out the loaf onto a work surface and cut into thin slices. Remove the baking sheet from the oven, and add a splash of olive oil. Place the slices on the tray, and return to the oven. Check after 4 minutes and, when the slices are golden brown, turn over to brown on the other side. Serve at once with freshly grated Parmesan, coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley, some lemon wedges, and a few grindings of black pepper.

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