Eat Like a Sicilian: 15 Delicious Recipes from This Beautiful Italian Island
The island of Sicily is a collection of many wonderful things. Over centuries it has been influenced by a succession of invaders, including the Phoenicians, Romans, Byzantines, Islamic Arabs, and Spanish—and it has the culinary inheritance to show for it. There's a brightness and simplicity to its food but also many layers of flavor. The local produce is amazing: We love its fragrant lemons, tender greens, and juicy tomatoes. In the rolling hills are wild fennel, pistachios, and almonds, and along the coast, anchovies, sea salt, and capers. We admire the piles of juicy peaches at the Ballaro market, and the live snails and trumpet-like squash; and we ogle the purple octopus, massive tuna, and glimmering sardines in Catania.
From high to low, sweet to amaro, and everything in between, Sicily can seem like a series of contrasts: It is the aggressive heat of the beating sun and the delicate touch of a lemon ice. The rich, crunchy pastries with creamy ricotta fillings. It can be over the top, like Palermo's Baroque churches, ornate curves, dusty alleys, and loud markets. And it can be incredibly serene; when you stand under towering Greek temples, amongst ancient olive trees, and in peaceful citrus groves, you can feel the quiet weight of the centuries. Sicily can be as decorative as a gold-leaf ceiling or a jewel-like cassata, and as poor and rugged as its bumpy country roads. It's a thrifty sprinkling of toasted breadcrumbs, a handful of briny olives, and bowl of pasta or couscous. Sicily is complex yet direct place that deserves exploring, whether in person or through its recipes.
Ricotta with Lemon, Basil, and Honey Bruschetta
Cara Cara and Blood-Orange Salad with Ricotta Salata
Bruschetta with Poached Tuna
Tuna has long been one of the mainstays of Sicilian coastal communities, and out of necessity a method was developed for preserving portions of the large fish. You can poach it gently in olive oil, the result is luscious and filling to use as a topping for bruschetta or salad.
Shaved Cucumber, Fennel, and Watermelon Salad
Pasta alla Norma
Eggplants have long been a favorite ingredient in Sicilian cooking, most famously in pasta alla Norma. The eggplant is often fried in lots of olive oil until golden and soft, but this version uses less oil and the steam from cooking to soften the eggplant. Traditionally the pasta is seasoned with salty ricotta salata, but this lighter version is finished with fresh ricotta, which makes a creamy sauce when stirred in.
Spaghetti with Caramelized Onions and Anchovies
Spaghetti with Sicilian Pesto
In Sicily, couscous is most often served with a rich, savory seafood stew, similar to this New World cioppino.
Cooling ices and granitas are said to have originated on the island of Sicily. This palate-cleansing version is served in tiny citrus cups though espresso cups would do just as well.
Meyer Lemon Gelato
Go ahead and get out your fryer; you'll make everyone happy by making traditional cannoli.