A guide to the best food in Sicily to enjoy during your holiday, from delicious arancini to wonderful pasta con le sarde.
The fabulous cuisine of Sicily owes its quality and uniqueness, in the main to the excellence of the ingredients and the variety of culinary influences that have been embraced throughout the centuries, resulting in a wonderful variety of tempting treats. Being an island, it is no surprise that fish is popular but you’ll also find plenty of meat as well as vegetarian dishes readily available.
I adore trying new cuisines but there was once a time when I didn’t know my caponata from my cassata and a handy guide to Sicilian cuisine would have been invaluable. We’ll be sharing many more posts about Sicilian gastronomy over the coming months but to start with we’ve put together our top ten ‘must trys’ when you visit Sicily.
This street food snack are golden balls of creamy risotto rice, traditionally stuffed with cheese, peas, boiled egg and a tomato based meat sugo (known as ragu in other parts of Italy), covered in bread crumbs and fried until crisp. They are most often round and a similar size to an orange (arancia), which together with their colour, gave rise to their name. They also come stuffed with ham and cheese and these are traditionally cone-shaped. Now-a-days, as well as the traditional fillings, you can find some interesting variations including pistacchio pesto. You'll find an Arancini recipe here, if you'd like to try making them yourself.
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2. Granita e Brioche
This semi frozen sugared ice dessert, originated in Sicily where it is thick and creamy and flavoured with seasonal fruit or nuts. For breakfast it’s served with a buttery brioche roll for dunking.
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A traditional stew made from vegetables, most importantly aubergines. The vegetables are fried and then simmered in a sweet-and-sour sauce. It can be served cold as a starter, as an accompaniment to meat or with pasta.
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4. Pasta alla Norma
Small chunks of aubergines, fried until golden, with pasta in a tomato and basil sauce and served with some grated salted ricotta cheese to sprinkle on top.
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5. Pasta con le Sarde
Fresh sardines with anchovies, fennel , sultanas, pine nuts and saffron served with spaghetti or ribbon-style pasta.
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6. Pasta allo Scoglio
Sicily is well-known for its fresh fish and seafood and we highly recommend you try this pasta dish with prawns, clams and mussels or any variation there of.
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7. Pesce Spada
Fresh swordfish steaks unadorned (or in a pie, with pasta, with a sauce…).
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This iconic Sicilian pastry was originally associated with ‘Carnevale’ but has become so popular that it is now available year-round. A good cannolo should have a crispy shell that crumbles as you bite into it with a light creamy ricotta filling. The filling often has candied pumpkin pieces or beads of chocolate. They are at their best when freshly made.
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A sponge cake laced with sweet liqueur and layered with ricotta, candied fruit pieces and chocolate, covered with marzipan and white icing or whipped cream and decorated with more candied fruits.
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10. Absolutely anything flavoured with pistachio
Pistachios were first introduced to Sicily by the Arabs in the 9th century and they grow particularly well on the volcanic soils around Bronte. Look out for pistachio gelato, pistachio cannoli, pistachios in pastries and pesto di pistacchio, to name but a few. And if you’d like to take home some pistachios as a souvenir make sure they are Pistachio di Bronte.
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Have we missed any of your favourite Sicilian dishes? Let us know by commenting below.
You'll find all our blog posts about food and drink in Sicily here.
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