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Guide to the traditional Cuisine of Sicily.Includes more than 30 recipes with photos and detailed instructions.
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Cuisine of Sicily
Copyright Enrico Massetti 2015
Published by Enrico Massetti
All Rights Reserved
The Vucciria, in the heart of Palermo's historic old city, opens early. By 4 a.m., fishermen are hauling in the day's catch; by 5 a.m., vendors are setting out crates of fruit and vegetables; and by 6 a.m., the place is bustling with shoppers. It's a tradition that's gone on, more or less the same way, for the last 700 years.
Every day but Sunday, the Vucciria fills with fishermen, shopkeepers and merchants who have come to peddle their goods. And it's quite a selection: pasta, grains, sacks of beans, bags of dried herbs, shoes, socks, cigarette lighters shaped like handguns, grappa, wine, CDs, paintings and paperweights of the Madonna, salted capers (a local specialty), zucchini the size of a child's leg, crates of artichokes still attached to their long stalks, tomatoes (large, small, sun-dried, packed in oil, in a can, on the vine) and practically anything else you can think of.
Melagrana - pomegranate
On any given night, Sicilian families can be found passing around a heaping plate of caponata, a traditional antipasto made of eggplant, tomatoes, celery, olives, and capers. Fisherman used to devour this dish with seafood at the end of a long fishing day, but caponata has evolved into one of the most popular Sicilian dishes. The recipe varies and sometimes includes artichokes and even chocolate.
No contemporary Italian kitchen would be complete without a bottle of Marsala wine. But centuries ago, this cooking staple was created in the western Sicilian town of Marsala to challenge the Portuguese and Spanish monopoly on fortified wines such as Madeira and sherry. Today, marsala is used all over the world to enhance the flavor of a dish, create a sauce, or to be enjoyed as a dessert wine.
Produced in the province of Ragusa and several towns near Syracuse, Caciocavallo Ragusano (Cosacavaddu Rausanu in Sicilian dialect) is a traditional Sicilian cheese made by curdling cow’s milk inside a wooden container called a “tina,” cooking the curds, and then kneading or pulling them by hand. The name was inspired by the practice of tying cheese (cacio in Italian) two-by-two and hanging them so that they straddle (a cavallo in Italian) a wooden beam to age. The seasoned variety is used in many traditional Sicilian recipes, especially pasta and bean dishes.
It’s impossible to resist the spell of a Sicilian pastry shop window with its explosion of tantalizing colors and aromas. Among the vast array of Sicilian pastry products, the placeof honor definitely goes to the cassata. Made of a tantalizing mixture of sponge cake, chocolate, sweetened ricotta, candied fruit, and nuts, the cassata is usually decorated with thick icing or marzipan and covered with brightly colored candied fruits.
The ever-popular cannoli, fried pastry rolls with a delicious filling made from sweet ricotta, chocolate and candied fruits, were once a treat only at Carnival time, but now are enjoyed year-round. And no festival in Sicily would be complete without torrone, the mouthwatering honey-and-nuts nougat that is made in a wide range of varieties across the island.
Agghiotta di pesce spada - Swordfish cooked with tomato, pine nuts, raisins, olives and herbs.Arancini di riso - Fried rice balls with a core of cheese, peas, chopped meats and tomatoesBottarga – Tuna roeBraccioli di pesce spada – Grilled swordfish fillets wrapped around a cheese-vegetable filling.Bruschetta ai Capperi di Pantelleria – Pantelleria Capers BruschettaCannoli con ricotta – Ricotta-stuffed RollsCaponata siciliana – Eggplant and Tomato StewCarciofi ripieni – Artichokes stuffed with sausage, sardines and cheese and baked.Cassata alla siciliana – Sicilian CassataCotognata – Quince PreserveCouscous con pesce – Fish Stew CouscousCrispeddi – Anchovy and Dill FrittersFravioli di Carnevale – Fried sweet ravioli filled with ricotta and cinnamon.Falsomagro – Stuffed Beef RollGnocculli – semolino gnocchi with ricotta and meat sauce.Gnocculli di San Giuseppe – semolino gnocchi with eggs, cinnamon and sugar.Involtini di pesce spada – Swordfish RollsMelanzane alla siciliana – Eggplant fried and then baked with mozzarella and tomatosauce.Panizza – Chickpea PolentaPasta alla Norma – spaghetti with a sauce of eggplant and tomatoPasta con le sarde – Bucatini with SardinesPeperonata - bell peppers stewed with onion, tomato and olives, often served cold.Pesce spada a’sammorigghu – Grilled SwordfishPesto ericino – Pesto from EricePignolata or pignulata – Confection of sweet fried dumplings (sometimes chocolate coated).Polpettone siciliano – meatball of ground beef, breadcrumbs, grated cheese and eggs, fried in olive oil and served with tomato sauce.Salmoriglio – Olive Oil, Lemon and Garlic SauceSarde a beccafico – Stuffed Sardines
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