History of Sicilian Food
Sicilian Food Today
Typical Sicilian Dishes
Pasta con le sarde: Fresh sardines, sautéed in extra-virgin
olive oil, deglazed with white wine, dressed with golden raisins,
pine nuts and almonds, and lots of chopped finocchietto, then tossed
with pasta. The finished dish is garnished with toasted bread crumbs.
Pasta alla norma: Widely found all over Sicily, this dish
consists of slowly-cooked eggplant chunks tossed into a basic tomato
sauce with thyme, dried oregano, and grated pecorino, then tossed
with pasta and garnished with grated ricotta salata.
Involtini di Pesce Spada: Involtini: (Sweet-and-sour stuffed
grilled swordfish) Little rolls of thinly sliced swordfish are stuffed
with pine nuts, raisins, bread crumbs, anchovy filets, orange juice
and lemon juice, eggs and grated pecorino. The rolls are then dipped
in an egg-olive oil mixture and coated with breadcrumbs. They are
then put on skewers with bay leaves and onion slices and grilled.
Impanata di Pesce Spada: (Swordfish pie) This pie is undoubtedly
a legacy of the Spanish invaders. It is an elegant package bursting
with all the wonderful tastes of Sicily: swordfish, olives, raisins,
pine nuts, capers, and cheese.
Involtini di Melanzane: (Stuffed eggplant rolls) Slices of
eggplant are stuffed with a mixture of cheeses, eggs, bread crumbs,
and tomato sauce.
Fagioli alla Menta: (Marinated white bean salad with mint) Cannelini
beans are cooked with garlic and celery until tender. They are drained
and tossed with olive oil, vinegar, mint and salt and pepper.
Arancine: (Little oranges) Arancine are balls of saffron
rice filled with tomato ragout, or meat or cheese or a combination
of these. The rice balls are then rolled in flour, coated with beaten
egg and rolled in bread crumbs. They are deep-fried until golden
brown, and resemble an orange (arancine).
Panelle di Ciciri: A fritter made with chickpea flour and
parsley and then deep-fried in olive oil. In Palermo the fritters
are sprinkled with a few drops of lemon juice and often used as
a filling for bread rolls.
Maccu di Favi: This very old recipe is known all over southern
Italy and is the oldest of all Mediterranean soups. It was served
for centuries as the midday meal of peasants, who carried it with
them when they went to work in the fields. The soup is made with
dried fava beans, wild fennel, and chili pepper. Toasted bread is
placed in soup bowls and drizzled with olive oil, and the soup is
ladled on top. The name comes from maccare which means "to
crush." The Sicilian touch is to add wild fennel.
Caponata: A slow-cooked ratatouille-like mix of eggplants,
onions, tomato, olives, pine nuts, and extra-virgin olive oil, caponata
is usually served cold or at room temperature. Most Sicilians think
caponata is a Spanish dish.
Spaghetti alla Siracusana: Fresh anchovies sautéed
with garlic and pepperoncini in olive oil, deglazed with white wine,
then tossed with spaghetti, diced cherry tomatoes and lots of chopped
parsley, and topped with toasted bread crumbs.
Sarde alla Beccafico alla Palermitana: Whole fresh sardines
rolled around a stuffing of pine nuts, raisins, capers, and parsley
all mashed together into a paste and then mixed with bread crumbs
and olive oil, arranged in a baking pan with bay leaves, bread crumbs,
sugar and lemon juice, and baked. The dish is named for the beccafico,
a bird that eats ripe figs and is therefore considered a gourmand.
Sarde a Beccafico alla Catanese: This deep-fried version has
practically nothing to do with the baked Palermitan dish that goes
by the same name. The sardines are split open, marinated in vinegar,
pressed together in pairs to form "sandwiches" filled
with a bread crumbs-cheese mixture and deep fried.
Tonno e Spada Affumicata: Smoked tuna and swordfish shaved paper
thin, and layered on a plate. These can be accented with shaved
fennel and oranges, or olives and sun-dried tomatoes, or can be
served with just a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and some good
Cuscusu: The apex of Arab-Sicilian cuisine; its successful
preparation is considered the height of culinary art. The starting
point for all couscous recipes is the same. Semolina grains are
slowly poured into a large, round terra-cotta dish with sloping
sides called a mafaradda and formed into small pellets by hand.
The process of raking, rolling, aerating, and forming the pellets
is called incocciata by the Sicilians. When the couscous pellets
are formed they are then steamed over boiling fish broth in a couscoussiere.
The fish broth is made using a three-to-one ratio of white fish
to oily fish. The fish used to make the broth is not eaten. Small
fish or shrimp are cooked up and eaten with the cuscusu.
Frittedda: (Sicilian sweet and sour vegetables) Artichokes
which have been cooked in water and lemon juice are sautéed
with onions and sprinkled with nutmeg and salt and pepper. Fava
beans and peas are added to this mixture until tender. The mixture
is tossed with sugar and vinegar and served cool.
Sciuscieddu: (Egg-bread crumb soup) this is a thicker version
of the Roman egg-drop soup called stracciatella. Garlic and parsley
are chopped together to create a mince, and added to a mixture of
eggs, grated pecorino cheese, and bread crumbs. This mixture is
dropped by spoonfuls into boiling chicken or beef broth and served
Spaghetti aglio olio e peperoncino: (Spaghetti with garlic,
oil, and hot pepper) Garlic and hot peppers or pepper flakes are
sautéed in olive oil until the garlic is pale gold. This
sauce is stirred into al dente spaghetti; parsley is added and served
Pasta con I broccoli di rabe: (Pasta with broccoli rabe)
The vegetable and pasta are boiled together in the same pot and
seasoned with sautéed garlic and anchovies.
Spiedini alla Siciliana: (Grilled scaloppine Sicilian style)
these veal rolls are stuffed with a mixture of breadcrumbs, cheese,
pine nuts, raisins, and salt and pepper. The rolls are threaded
on a skewer with bay leaves and onion slices. They are grilled or
broiled until brown on all sides.
Polpette allAgrodolce: (Sweet and sour meatballs) Meatballs
are made by mixing together beef, eggs, pine nuts, raisins, cinnamon,
and amaretti cookies that have been soaked in milk, along with salt
and pepper. They are sautéed in oil until cooked and finished
by adding a sugar-vinegar sauce to the pan.
Farsumagru: (Stuffed beef roll) This is Sicilys undisputed
premier meat dish. It originated as a humble and economical dish:
a thin slice of meat rolled around stuffing of breadcrumbs to feed
many more people than the meat alone would satisfy. The name means
"false lean," because it is a simple-looking meat roll
whose insides bulge with a rich stuffing of eggs, cheese, prosciutto,
salami, and peas. It can be eaten hot or at room temperature.
Pollo allArancia alla Catanese: (Orange chicken Catania
style) Chicken is not very popular in Sicily, presumably because
the hens are kept for the eggs they produce. The cooks of Catania
have taken advantage of the fragrant orange groves that cover their
hillsides to come up with this unusual chicken dish. Chicken pieces
are rubbed with garlic, rosemary, mint and nutmeg. The chicken is
then sautéed with onion in olive oil until brown. Orange
juice is added and the chicken is roasted in a covered skillet until
Pasticcio diMohammed ibn Itmnah: (The Emir of Catanias
chicken casserole) Sicilians pride themselves on this thousand-year-old
chicken dish. This recipe for chicken with exotic nuts encased in
a round bread loaf really is nearly a thousand years old; it dates
back to the days when the Arabs still held Sicily and the Emir Mohammed
ibn Itmnah ruled Catania.
Coniglio alla Siciliana: (Rabbit Sicilian style) the rabbit is marinated
in wine and herbs, sautéed, and then braised in the marinade.
Pasta con alici e piselli: (Pasta with anchovies and peas) A sauce
of sliced onion, chopped parsley, peas, and anchovies is served
over "al dente" pasta.
Gatto di sarde e carciofi: (Sardine d artichoke pie) Sardines
rolled in bread crumbs, thinly sliced artichokes, oregano, olive
oil, salt and pepper, and primosale cheese are layered in a baking
dish and topped with bread crumbs and olive oil and baked.
Ditalini con favuzze e ricotta: (Pasta with broad beans and
ricotta cheese) Broad beans cooked in olive oil with scallions is
served on pasta with ricotta cheese.
Scaloppine al Marsala: (Veal Marsala) In restaurants in the
United States, this dish is often heavy and cloying. As prepared
in Sicily, however, it consists of thin, tender scaloppine with
a delicate Marsala wine glaze.
Tummala: (Rice Timbale) This is an elaborate casserole from
eastern Sicily, which is said to derive its name from that of Mohammed
Ibn Thummah, an emir of Catania during the Arab occupation. The
casserole includes chicken, celery, onion, tomatoes, carrots, bread
crumbs, veal meatballs, cheese, sausage, rice, and eggs in layers
as follows: a layer of rice, a layer of meatballs and chicken, a
layer of cheese, a layer of rice, a layer of sausage and meatballs,
and a layer of rice and chicken topped by beaten eggs and cheese.
Pesce Spada alla Ghiotta: Swordfish cooked in onion and tomato
sauce with potatoes, olives, capers, celery and black pepper. A
Pasta al Nero di Seppia: Spaghetti served with a sauce made
from the ink sacs of cuttlefish with salted ricotta cheese.
Pasta ncasciata: A pasta dish containing meat sauce,
meat balls, caciocavallo cheese, sausage, hard-boiled eggs, eggplant
Tonno al Forno: (Baked Tuna) Sliced tuna is marinated in
oil, vinegar, onion, parsley, and red pper and baked.
Braciole alla Siciliana: Marinated pork chops grilled with
olive oil, salt, pepper, oregano and vinegar added at the last minute.
Cannoli: Fried pastry tubes filled with ricotta, sugar, candied
orange peel, pistachios, chocolate bits and grated orange peel.
Cassata: A sponge cake doused with sweet liqueur and filled
with ricotta, sugar, cinnamon, candied fruit and chocolate. It is
covered with marzipan icing and decorated with candied fruits and
slices of citron twisted into bows.
Sfingi or Zeppole di San Giuseppe: a fried dough delicacy
resembling a holeless doughnut prepared for the feast of San Guiseppe
(St. Joseph) on March 19.
Cuccia: a sweet wheat dish prepared after soaking the wheat
grains overnight. It is connected with the festival of Santa Lucia
on December 13, the patronness of Syracuse.
Sorbetto and Gelato: the Arabs mixed the summer unmelted
snows of Mt. Etna with fruit-flavored syrups to produce a cooling
confection which later developed into sherbet and, with the addition
of milk and/or cream, gelato.
Granita: simple ices made by pouring flavors like lemon,
coffee and almond milk over granulated ice.