Posted on 20/07/2021

#Culture #Italy

Discover Sicilian flavours through these ten delicious dishes

Sicily, which is the southernmost place in Italy, boasts a wide variety of attractions that have made it one of the most sought-after destinations in Europe. It offers unique landscapes combining sea and mountains, colourful traditions, a rich history and cultural heritage, plus its people are so friendly that you will definitely want to visit and discover the treasures of this incredible Mediterranean island. And in addition to all this, you will find another argument to convince you that it is worth visiting - and that is the delicious gastronomy of the island. Discover some of the most emblematic dishes and recipes of Sicilian cuisine that will convince you Sicily should be on your travel list... Buon appetito!

Sicily, which is the southernmost place in Italy, boasts a wide variety of attractions that have made it one of the most sought-after destinations in Europe. It offers unique landscapes combining sea and mountains, colourful traditions, a rich history and cultural heritage, plus its people are so friendly that you will definitely want to visit and discover the treasures of this incredible Mediterranean island. And in addition to all this, you will find another argument to convince you that it is worth visiting - and that is the delicious gastronomy of the island. Discover some of the most emblematic dishes and recipes of Sicilian cuisine that will convince you Sicily should be on your travel list... Buon appetito!

Pasta con le sarde

Pasta con le sarde

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Simple, delicious and affordable, this pasta dish with sardines is undoubtedly one of the most popular dishes of Sicilian gastronomy. Typical of the city of Palermo, it is mainly consumed between March and September, when fresh sardines can be found in the markets and when fennel gets harvested. It is said this dish was created by General Eufemio da Messina's Arab cook who, during the military campaigns in Syracuse, was forced to feed the numerous troops with what nature had to offer. The result is a delicious combination of products from the sea and from the mountains, to which Sicilians added pine nuts, onion, salted anchovies, raisins, olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper and a pinch of saffron later on. Traditionally, it is cooked with bucatini, a kind of spaghetti that resembles a tube and allows it to better absorb the sauce. There might be different versions of this dish, such as spaghetti alla siracusana or pasta with le sarde alla trappitara, but all of them are just incredible.

Caponata

Caponata

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Aubergine is one of the most famous products of Sicily, and it is the base of this traditional recipe which is a stew with finely chopped vegetables cooked in olive oil, and seasoned with tomato sauce, celery, onion and olives, giving it a sweet and sour flavour. The classic version is the palermitana, which contains sugar, vinegar, and sometimes basil leaves, pine nuts and toasted almonds. The one from Agrigento is a bit spicier and sweeter, as it includes chili pepper, honey and raisins. Caponata is usually eaten as a side dish to go with meat and fish, but it is also pretty common to have it as a starter or on a bruschetta.

Fish couscous

Fish couscous

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The same way that architecture and cultural heritage have been influenced by people who migrated there, Sicilian gastronomy has been influenced by other nationalities. A good example of that is the traditional fish couscous that Arabic immigrants left on the island. If you love good cuisine, you should definitely try this dish during your trip to Italy. With its rich ingredients, and the fresh fish used to make the broth, it offers powerful flavours that will impress your taste buds. Originally a humble dish made with fishes that the fishermen didn't sell, it has become an essentiel dish for the island. It contains semolina, which takes several hours to prepare, and different types of fish, as well as different types of seafood, such as squid, mussels and clams, making it a real delicacy.

Arancini

Arancini

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Arancini are the emblem of Sicilian street food. Easy and quick to eat, these rice balls are fried and filled with a variety of ingredients, making it the perfect snack to have in between meals. The most popular type of arancini in Sicily are made with meat ragu, although those with mozzarella cheese, ham or béchamel, mozzarella and spinach, or even tomato sauce and eggplant (the arancini alla norma), are also very popular. However, there are countless variations and even sweet versions of this classic snack. Its name comes from its characteristic shape and colour - the saffron making it look sort of orange (arancia in Italian). If you go to Sicily, you will find that in the eastern part of the island, these rice balls are usually in a conical shape, particularly in Catania and near Etna. According to tradition, its shape is inspired by the volcano, and when you bite into it, delicious ragout or tomato sauce comes out, looking just like smoke or lava coming out of the volcano.

Panelle

Panelle

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Fighting the arancini for the first place in the most popular street food from Sicily, the panelle is a type of pancakes cut into pieces and made with chickpea flour, water and salt, then fried and usually served in small sandwiches (paninis). Its spongy texture and sesame topping might remind you of hamburger buns, and they often come with potato croquettes called crocchè. The combination of both can be heavy for your stomach, but the taste is completely worth it, and the price is very low as well. Therefore, it is not surprising that they are one of the favourite snacks of the inhabitants, who love it very much.

Busiati con l'Agghia Pistata

Busiati con l'Agghia Pistata

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Here is another one of the Sicilian dishes you really shouldn't miss. Busiati are a type of long, macaroni from the Trapani province and served with pesto alla trapanese. It is a rather old dish originating from Ligurian sailors who stopped there, and to whom inhabitants gave two of their most common products: tomatoes and almonds. Like Genovese pesto, it also contains basil, as well as red garlic, grated pecorino cheese and black pepper, which are ground by hand in a mortar. You also add olive oil gradually, until obtaining the characteristic creamy texture which is irresistible.

Sardines Beccafico

Sardines Beccafico

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As mentioned before, fish, and especially sardines, are a very important part of Sicilian gastronomy. The delicious dish sardines Beccafico are another good example of this. Made with breadcrumbs, garlic, parsley, raisins, pine nuts, pepper, salt and olive oil, it is a beloved element of Palermo's markets, but it is equally popular in Messina, Trapani, Agrigento and Catania. These can be eaten both as an appetizer and as an antipasto, so any occasion is a good time to try them.

Granita with brioche

Granita with brioche

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Regarding sweets, granita is without a doubt one of the most popular breakfasts in Sicily. Made with sugar, water and different toppings, it is traditionally served inside a brioche as if it were a sandwich. Its texture is similar to a light sorbet, although on the west coast and around Palermo its crystals are even finer thanks to different freezing techniques. There is a great variety of flavours, but the most famous ones are coffee (traditional in Messina), almond in Catania, as well as chocolate and citrus fruits.

Cannoli with ricotta

Cannoli with ricotta

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Another favourite, cannoli are probably the most famous pastry from Sicily thanks to their crunchy and exquisite taste. Looking like a tube, they are usually filled with ricotta cheese and sugar. They can also be decorated with candied fruit, and garnished with different ingredients such as pistachio, vanilla, Marsala wine, chocolate and rose water. Like many of the dishes on this list, this sweet has Arabic origins, and was traditionally consumed during Carnival celebrations. However, it became so popular with time that it ended up becoming part of the island's inhabitants's daily life... That's lucky for us since it means we can enjoy this little delicacy at any time of the year!

Cassata

Cassata

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Last in the dessert section, the cassata is one of the favourites of Sicilian people. Of Arabic origin as well, this traditional cake will be a real pleasure for people with a sweet tooth. Its lovely presentation means you don't even have to taste it in order to know it is delicious. Made with ricotta cheese, sugar, sponge cake, marzipan, candied fruit and powdered sugar, it looks and tastes great despite its fairly simple recipe. Depending on the area where you are, you can see it decorated with candied fruit, maraschino cherries, pistachios, pine nuts, cinnamon and/or orange blossom... So there really are endless choices that will never stop to amaze you!

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