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What To See And Eat In Palermo, Sicily

At the Capo Market in Palermo, Sicily.

At the Capo Market in Palermo, Sicily. Photo: Dennis Jarvis/Flickr

A quick guide to the must-visit sites, markets, and restaurants in Sicily's capital, Palermo, from Appetito's esteemed travel correspondent, Bilena Settepani. Plus, a recipe for a favorite street food of Sicily, panelle.

The author enjoying a meal in Palermo.

“Amuni” is Sicilian for “Let’s go!” We’re starting off my Italian food and travel diaries with Sicily, where my dad was born, and arguably the hottest new Italian destination (thanks White Lotus).

First off, we’ll be exploring the island's capital, Palermo. If you know me, you know I’m obsessed with this city, whether it be for its rich history and culture, liberty-style architecture, lively food markets and out of this world street food.

While the city of Palermo can feel a bit chaotic, be sure to pay attention to the details of the architecture around you, which is some of the most beautiful in all of Italy. Just a few of my “must-sees” include: La Cattedrale di Palermo, I Quattro Canti, Il Quinto Canto, La Sala Blu, Palazzo dei Normanni, and Il Teatro Massimo

You can’t understand Palermo without going to the food markets; they’re the perfect representation of the city and its people. The most popular markets are Vucciria, Capo, and MercatoBallaro’ (which is specifically known for its food). 

The street foods you should try at these markets include:

  1. sfincione (sicilian pizza)
  2. pannelle and panini con panelle (chickpea fritters)
  3. pani ca Meusa (spleen sandwiches) the panini con panelle at Nino Ballerino holds a special place in my heart.
  4. arancini (fried rice balls)
  5. stigghiola (grilled gut meat)
Sfincione in Palermo. Photo: Bilena Settepani

You really can’t go wrong with restaurants in Palermo, like most of Italy, but some of my favorite restaurants for traditional Palermitani cuisine include: Osteria Mangia e Bevi, Osteria Pane e Alivi, and Ristorante Sapori Perduti

Sweet tooth? Some places I recommend for dolce are Pasticceria Cappello and Pasticceria Bondi (say hi to my cousins while you’re there).

Sicilian pastries are especially delish, like the frutta martorana, brioche con gelato, setteveli and of course, the cannoli.

Panelle (bottom) in Palermo. Photo: Bilena Settepani

Can’t make it to Palermo this year? Here’s a recipe to make panelle, one of the most popular Palermitani street foods, right from the comfort of home. Though, it most definitely will fall a liiiittle short of the panelle made by the artisans in the streets of my favorite city in the world.

Ciao for now,  and see you alla prossima fermata!

Panelle, Sicilian Chickpea Fritters

Panelle, Sicilian Chickpea Fritters

Recipe by Bilena Settepani
2.0 from 1 vote
Course: Snacks
Servings

25-40

servings
Prep time

20

minutes
Cooking time

2

minutes

Ingredients

  • 3 cups 3 water

  • 3/4 cup 3/4 chickpea flour

  • 1/2 cup 1/2 fresh parsley

  • 1/2 tsp. 1/2 black pepper

  • 1 tsp. 1 sea salt

  • 2 2 lemons for garnish

Directions

  • In a large bowl, pour a cup of water and ½ cup of chickpea flour.
  • Slowly add all the water and the rest of the chickpea flour.
  • Once the flour and water is well mixed together, add the salt and pepper.
  • In a medium pot over medium heat, pour your mixture and continue to stir with a whisk until it thickens.
  • As it starts to stick to your whisk, switch to a spatula.
  • Stir with the spatula and add your freshly chopped parsley. It's important that your mixture has the consistency of a thick paste.
  • Then, grab a pan and make sure it is well-oiled. I like to use a loaf pan, but you can use whatever you want.
  • Let it cool and cover with plastic, then put it in your fridge for at least 2 hours until it firms up.
  • After two hours, take it out of the pan and place on a cutting board. Slice it into either squares or triangles, it's up to you!
  • Take a sheet pan and some parchment paper. As you slice the pieces, place them on the parchment paper.
  • Grab a pan and pour in oil. Once it gets to 350°F, start to fry each sliced piece (make sure you don’t overcrowd the frying pan).
  • Remove each slice from the pan with a slotted spoon.
  • Serve on a plate with the lemon slices. Enjoy your delicious panelle!

Notes

  • Yield is 25-40 pieces depending on the way you slice the panelle.

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