Sicilia a tavola

Our kitchen

Sicilian cuisine is strictly linked to the history and culture of the region. It's in fact a complex gastronomic culture, showing tracks and contributions given by every culture which inhabited Sicily during the last two thousand years. Here you have some of the mosti typical dishes of this land.

Starting out from the first courses, we cannot but mention the "Pasta alla norma". This dish originated in Catania, and it's basically made of pasta (often macarroni) seasoned with tomato sauce, and then with fried aubergines, salty ricotta cheese and basil. Nino Martoglio, the famous playwright from Catania, seems to be the one who gave its name to this kind of pasta: while eating it, he said "It's a Norma!", comparing it to the great Vincenzo Bellini opera to claim its deliciousness.

Another typical dish belonging to Sicilian tradition, commonly served today as a side dish, is the "caponata". It is a cooked vegetable salad made of chopped fried eggplant and seasoned with sweetened vinegar, with capers in bittersweet sauce. There are several different versions of the dish, depending of the ingredients: the "classic" recipes collected throughout the island are as many as 37. The name seems to stem from "capone", name used in some areas of the region to refer to the "lampuga", a valuable kind of fish which was served to noble people and seasoned with its typical bittersweet sauce. Poorer people, being the fish too expensive, replaced it with aubergines. And this is the recipe we have today.

As for desserts, the very symbol of Sicilian cuisine is undoubtedly the "cannolo". It consists of tube-shaped shells of fried pastry dough filled with a sweet, creamy filling usually containing ricotta cheese. The cannoli sold in Italian-American bakeries today usually still contain ricotta, but mascarponr is a less common alternative. Rarely, the filling is a simple custard of sugar, milk, and cornstarch. In either case, the cream is often flavored with vanilla or orange flower water and a light amount of cinnamon. Chopped pistachios, semi-sweet chocolate bits, and candied citrus peel or cherries are often still included, dotting the open ends of the pastry.

Almond paste (pasta di mandorle) is made from ground almonds or almond meal and sugar, typically 50-55%, with a small amount of cooking oil beaten eggs, heavy cream or corn syrup added to bind the two ingredients. It is one of the most representative desserts in eastern Sicily, where pastry cooks skillfully knead almonds with honey, until they obtain a pure almond paste, which can be then aromatized with lemon or orange, and covered with caster sugar.

Last but not least, the "granita". It is is a semi-frozen dessert made from sugar, water and various flavorings. Originally from Sicily, although available all over Italy (but granita in Sicily is somewhat different from the rest of Italy), it is related to sorbet and Italian ice. Common and traditional flavoring ingredients include lemon juice, oranges, jasmine, coffe, almonds, mint.