Slow Down for Meatless Monday with Panisse and Winter Green Pesto

07 Feb 2020

Health professionals have been telling us for ages that we should alter the times in which we eat.

Give our bodies more time to starve in between meals, snack less, and as the old saying goes: Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like pauper. As such, this recipe perfectly suits the sentiment: A light dinner for a Monday evening to be enjoyed with a glass of white wine and without use of utensils.   


Photo Credit Valerie Ganio Vecchiolino

High in protein, vitamins and fiber, chickpeas are a peasant staple on both sides of the Mediterranean Sea: Pois chiches in France, cece in Italy, himas in Egypt, révythia in Greece, and hummus in Israel. There are a number of chickpeas on the Slow Food Ark of Taste. However, the Anacapri Cicerchia is a particularly interesting variety that tends to find its way into stews and pasta dishes. Cultivated on the terraced hills of the Island of Capri for generations, it is smaller than others.

Its future is fragile, as farmland is losing out to mass tourism. This is why we must build consumer interest in varieties, like the Anacapri Cicerchia, to reward those who continue the gastronomic traditions to develop an alternative tourist model. 

In a few short hours by boat from Capri, you are in the South of France. Here, chickpeas are also on the menu. Fried chickpea fingers, panisse, are a traditional evening snack, often served with local wines. Panisse is also the surname of the character Honoré Panisse in icon of French cinema Marc Allégret’s 1932 film, Fanny (set in Marseilles). A warm and generous character in the film, no wonder Slow Food visionary and lifelong fan of French cinema, Alice Waters, named her restaurant after him.     

Country: France
Dish: Panisse and winter greens pesto
Ark of Taste products: Anacapri Cicerchia (Italy)  width=


Serves 4-6 people


2 qt (1L) water

2 tsp olive oil

¾ tsp salt

2 ¼ cups (285g) chickpea flour

Oil for frying — enough to coat the pan

Coarse salt to apply once fried (or baked)

Winter Greens Pesto

6 leaves of kale or collard greens, chopped finely

½ cup of roasted sunflower seeds

Juice of one lemon

Zest of one lemon, chopped finely (minced)

3 TBS of olive oil

3 TBS of tahini

Salt and pepper to taste


Panisse: Heat the water and oil in a large saucepan. Add the ¾ tsp salt. Once warm, mix in the chickpea flour with a whisk. It will take a solid form rather quickly (almost like a firm polenta). Remove from heat, and pour into a shallow pan. Set aside to cool and congeal. To save time, do this the night before and place it in the refrigerator. Once you are ready to fry the panisse, turn the pan upside down to let the panisse rest on a chopping block. Slice into any shape desirable. I like fingers. Make them wide and thick enough to hold shape but thin enough to cook throughout. Heat up a cast iron skillet to a high setting, with enough oil to coat the pan. Place the panisse fingers in the skillet, turning them once brown. With each side brown, remove from the heat and place on a towel to cool. Coat with coarsely ground salt. This should give you at least 6-8 fingers for each individual. If you do not fry foods at home, instead you can always bake them in the oven. 

Winter Greens Pesto: Coarsely chop the greens and stems, and steam or parboil long enough for the leaves to turn bright green (maybe 30 seconds). Remove from the heat and let cool. Meanwhile, roast the sunflower seeds in the oven until brown. Remove from heat and let cool on the counter. Take one lemon. Peel the zest and chop coarsely. Juice the lemon and pour into a food processor or blender. Combine the greens, tahini, lemon juice and zest, and olive oil at a high setting. You want the greens to be finely chopped but not liquified. Pour ingredients into a bowl and mix in the roasted sunflower seeds, salt and pepper to taste. 

To serve: If Monday evenings are, for you, a chance to kick back with a glass of wine and review the day with family and friends, then this is your dish. There is no need to plate the panisse (for table eating with utensils). Simply, dip the panisse into the winter greens pesto with your fingers. Alternatively, spread out the pesto on a plate for each individual, then place the panisse atop. This makes it a more elegant presentation.  


To learn more about Meatless Monday: Watch the videos about how it is going global; and the tour of Terra Madre. To join us, submit a recipe of your own via email ([email protected]). If you prepare this week’s recipe, post images online using the hashtags #MeattheChange and #MeatlessMonday. 



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