As mentioned in my previous post, Found Treasure- La Scienza in Cucina e L'Arte di Mangiar Bene, I came across a few recipes that have remained in our family for several generations. Panzerotti is a sweet that was traditionally prepared around Lent. A puree of chickpeas (ceci) is used as a filling, flavoured with vino cotto (wine must), sugar, liquor of choice and chocolate. You would not know that the base ingredient was chickpeas due to the added flavours. The pastry casing is sweet and made in the same manner as you would pasta sheets. My mother would sometimes substitute the chickpeas with chestnuts, but as this is another favourite dish of my father, it appears at every festive season using chickpeas all year round.
When we lived in Domodossola, in the north of Italy we would go chestnut picking during autumn in Val Vigezzo - Santa Maria Maggiore. The chestnut season was a family favourite. My childhood memories comprise of family picnics and days spent gathering chestnuts with my sister and placing them in a little basket. Due to the abundance of chestnuts my mother would use them in place of the ceci.
Artusi's recipe in the book talks in great detail about the preparation of the puree, and the importance of using dried chickpeas, soaking and cooking them to achieve a dry and dense puree. He would flavour the filling with sugar, cinnamon and Mostarda (which is a chutney of grapes, apple and pear).
|Mostarda al uso Toscana|
Now to the pastry that encloses the filling. Panzarotti is an italian southern dialect word meaning 'tummy' due to its filled appearance. In Basilicata, they are also known as Calzoncelli. They can be baked, however these sweets are shallow fried adding more flavour and calories!
Please note that this is Artusi's recipe for the pastry, my mother would use her own measuring system that being ''al occhio'' (meaning - roughly these quantities)
500g plain flour
20g butter or 2 tblsp oil
3 tblsp white wine
pinch of salt
Prepare the pastry as you would pasta using the pasta machine, fill using a tablespoon depending on the size (try to get two morsels worth) fold the pastry over and cut into half circle shapes using a rotary cutter. Press the edges firmly and shallow fry until a light golden brown. Place on kitchen paper to soak the excess oil and coat with castor sugar.