The Italian island of Sicily is located between main land Italy and North Africa. Sicily has has been influenced by the Normans, Arabs, Romans, Ottomans and Tunisians among others. These cultures have all stamped their unique marks on the island and have fused together to create the unique, yet extremely tasty cuisine. Belissimo!
I recently took a long weekend trip to Palermo and found my senses heightened with aromas of mouth watering fresh produce and street food vendors. They were so good that I thought it would be rude not to share these delicious dishes with you all. Here’s 8 must try Sicilian dishes.
There wasn’t a day that passed that I didn’t find myself in a market or cafe ordering this mouthwatering sweet treat. Although Canolli is well known and loved on the mainland of Italy, it actually originated from Sicily. It consists of a tubular fried pastry dough which cases a sweet filling mixed with flavoured ricotta. It is usually garnished with sweetened orange or crushed pistachios. It’s perfect to have over a freshly brewed espresso.
A savoury staple to the locals, arancini are rice balls with a battered exterior that protects a delicious inner filling. They range from meatball size to what looks like a large Easter egg – inclusive of the shape. The fillings vary extensively but the most common within Sicily is ragu (which is the proper name for bolognese). If you are a vegetarian like me, then don’t worry as there are numerous vegetarian fillings such as mozzarella and broccoli; which I can testify is bursting with simple but quality ingredients and their amazing flavours.
Sicilian Granita is similar to sorbet but instead of being pureed, it is made with shaved ice. This treat is found in everywhere in Palermo’s restaurants to street vendors Granita is available in dozens of different fruity flavours and is usually made fresh to order; served in a cup like bowl with a spoon.
If you crossed focaccia bread and a pizza, this would be the end result. The flat shaped dough is covered in tomato sauce, doused in copious varieties of local cheeses and topped with a concoction of mediterranean vegetables and meats. It can be bought by the slice or as a whole within local markets and cafes. As Italians do with pizza, this dish is normally eaten using knife and fork rather than as a finger food, as I found out through the passers by giving me their suspecting looks.
Brioche con gelato
This breakfast treat is a combination of two of my favourite things, bread and ice cream. It may sound bizarre, but it’s something you need to try before knocking it. It is composed of a fresh and slightly sweetened bread bun which is sliced in the centre, and filled with creamy, sweet Sicilian gelato. It is normally served with two ice cream flavours, but as I learnt by people watching, there is no real limit to how many flavours you can jam into one bun!
Pasta alla norma
It would be sacrilege to visit Italy and not try out a bowl of pasta or two. As with all Italian regions, Sicily has its own traditional pasta dish. Made with thick sliced rigatoni noodles, drizzled with olive oil, tossed with baked egg plant and garnished with fresh herbs. This basic, yet mouthwatering dish is one of the best pasta dishes I tried and true to form in Italian cuisine, simple but high quality ingredients make the best dishes.
This chickpea fritter has an incredibly strong and distinctive taste. Over the last thousand years, Panelle has fed the poorest and most noble of Sicilian palettes. The once basic recipe has slowly evolved over time and is one of the oldest and most delicious foods to be served on the island of Sicily. The best way to eat it is between two slices of freshly baked local bread.
Fresh citrus juice
I know what you’re thinking. Juice is the same anywhere. So why should Sicilian juice be put on such a pedestal? Let me explain. One of Sicily’s iconic locally grown produce is citrus, and there’s a good reason for it. The whole island is boasts a climate perfect for growing luscious citrus fruits with year round warmth and plentiful rain in the winter. The streets of Sicilian villages and cities are lined by citrus fruit trees and market stalls are abundant with vibrant colours from stacked trays of fresh fruit picked just minutes before. Don’t visit Sicily and buy juice from a pre-packed bottle. instead delight in the readily available refreshments that are squeezed to order. You won’t have to walk far from your hotel to find a street juice vendor to start your day with a cup of fresh orange and pomegranate.
I’m an Australian blogger based in Central West NSW who has spent the last few years exploring the four corners of the globe, living as an expat and falling in love with the world just a little bit more everyday. Here you can find my tips, guides and experiences to help inspire you for your next trip!
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