An Appetizer is a small portion of a tasty food or a drink at the beginning of a meal to stimulate the appetite. (Webster’s)
The Sicilian cuisine has no tradition of antipasto. It was an accomplishment when the majority of the people could get three meals a day!.. And in those days there were no problems of cholesterol or overweight.
In the baronial cuisine of the rich and noble families, the Sicilian chefs the Monzu’ (a contraction of monsieur), would arrange a table with toasted bread entrenched in olive oil, olives, anchovies, and other small appetizing dishes, served with wine when they were not ready on time to serve their masters and guests at the banquet.
Baked Sicilian Specialties
Many baked unsweetened specialties which are neither a bread nor an entrée are cooked in Sicily and consumed as a snack, appetizer or for a hearty meal. The word focaccia derives from Latin focacius meaning cooked under the ashes. In Sicily, the focacce are baked for special occasions and they are always part of the Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve festivities.
Some food historians claim that the sfincione and all the other stuffed breads called “impanata’’, or “scacciata”, crushed, or “coddurune” stuck together,
were introduced in Sicily by the Moors. The sfincione actually goes back centuries long before the Greeks’ or Romans’ controlled Sicily, the simple flat bread was the major component of the everyday diet.
The foods in this section are mostly specialties common in the Sicilian popular cuisine.
This category includes all stuffed flat breads called “sfinciuni, cudduruni, ‘mpanata, scacciata”, the single serving turnover stuffed with vegetables and meat, the “crispeddi” and “frittedde”.
The first pasta factory in the world was established in Trabia, a small town outside Palermo; it was selected for its slightly humid climate, for the mild temperature, for the crystalline spring water without calcium or any other impurities and for the quality of the local grain, the durum wheat: these are necessary attributes to make good pasta.
Now in Trabia, pasta is made on a smaller scale, but the system and the art of making pasta from Trabia spread all over Italy and now Italy is the world’s biggest producer of pasta.
There are two types of pasta: artigianale and industrial.
Both types of pasta are good, but it pays to spend a little more money for the artigianale, because of the extra efforts made to produce better quality pasta.
In this chapter we will give the recipe for the dishes that are unique, well known and famous in the Sicilian cuisine.
You will find the classic recipe of Pasta con Sarde, Pasta alla Norma, Chi Vrocculi Arriminati, Anelletti with Meat Sauce, Pasta alla Palina, Lasagne Cacate, Paste Incasciate, Baked Rigatoni Aragona Style, Pasta chi Masculini and other traditional dishes from our vast collection of recipes.
Pasta with Nunnata
The best way to enjoy the pasta with nunnata is to simply make the condiment with olive oil, a hint of garlic and the nunnata mixed with the pasta.
Serve without cheese or breadcrumbs not to take away from the taste of the sauce.
The complex taste of the puttanesca sauce is made by blending anchovies, capers, olives and a hint of pepperoncino; the sauce is reinvigorated by the barely cooked tomatoes sauce flavored with garlic.
It is easy to make and it is so delicious!
Meatless Pasta Recipes
Easy and fast recipes made with few ingredients. The simplicity of these preparations does not sacrifice on taste. Some dishes are delicate and have a distinguished flavor of the main ingredient used to accompany the pasta, some recipes have strong accent of the Sicilian seasoning or characteristic of the product used to make the sauce.
The seeds of beans, lentils, chickpeas, peas, and other legumes are used for food since the beginning of time. The legumes are high in proteins, minerals, carbohydrates and some vitamins and are staple food all over the world. Chickpeas grow abundantly in Sicily and at one point in ancient history were the primary source of food for the working population.
In Sicily a large variety of vegetables grows wild or is cultivated. Vegetables can be eaten row, in salads; cooked and served as side dish, or mixed with macaroni or rice to compose some of the most delicious and refreshing pasta dishes.
Sauces usually are a thick preparation used to enrich food and improve its taste.
The word sauce, Italian “salsa”, derives from the Latin word “salsus”, salted, from “sal, salis the salt.
The condiments are used primarily for salads, grilled vegetables, fish and meats. Some condiments made with sugar or honey and vinegar or lemon juice are sweet and sour and used as preservatives for vegetables, fish or meats.
Rice has a low salt content, it does not favor the retention of liquids in patients with kidney problems or high blood pressure and it is also suggested in the diets of heart patients and to people affected by arteriosclerosis.
In my family rice was considered not only food but a remedy for many illnesses.
Rice cooked in a broth made with escarole, dandelion or endive was the ideal and only food-medication consumed for all sorts of inflammation, from the throat to the feet.
Eggs-Introduction & Recipes
In Sicily, frittata is very popular especially in the hinterland, where eggs are available in abundance and because it is an easy and cheap source of protein and vitamins.
appetizers, main courses, or as a light meal and as merenda
when referring to fish, it is the head that reveals the freshness of it; it should not have a fishy smell.
The flesh should be firm, there should be no missing scales and they should adhere firmly to the body. When buying shellfish (mussels, clams, oysters) select small size for tenderness,
Nunnata Fritters Polpette
Nunnata fritters are called in Sicilian dialect purpetti, in Italian polpette; in my family these delightful goodies are called vastidduzzi. These tasty noshes, delicious warm or cold, are made with nunnata, eggs, parsley and flour.
A salad is a mixture of vegetables, roots, fruits, also in combination with any leftover, a good dose of fantasy and the mandatory combination of salt, oil, and a sour ingredient such as vinegar or lemon.
Vinegar is preferred because it is easy to use and delivers a pungent taste and a particular aroma.
A recommendation about a good salad is that “it must be well salted, with a lot of oil and little vinegar”, in fact vinegar has to be used with parsimony because it contains toxic agents that decalcify and it is dangerous for seniors and children, it promotes anemia and inhibits the absorbing of vitamins.
Because lemons are abundant in Sicily, they are the favorite ingredient in making salad dressing and sometimes lemon juice and a few drops of vinegar are used in combination with olive oil and to make a perfect and balanced salad dressing use 4 parts of oil to 1 part of vinegar.
Vegetables that are part of the Sicilian diet are and have been used as remedies to solve health problems since ancient times.
Huge varieties of vegetables are grown in Sicily
Vegetables are intended leaves, like spinach, lettuce, or roots like radishes, carrots, or stems like celery or flowers like broccoli, or seeds like peas, fava, chick-peas, or bulbs like garlic, or fruits like tomatoes, squash, zucchini and olives.
Bicchieri con Ricotta, Frutta e Biscotti
Dolce da Cucchiaio.
This type of delightful dessert is well accepted to conclude a dinner or enjoy it on a cold afternoon with a foamy and steaming cappuccino.
Although simple to make, it is complex in aroma and taste.
Cassata Siciliana is the most celebrated Sicilian dessert, also known as the classic Sicilian Easter Cake.
It is made with ricotta sweetened with a small amount of sugar or honey,it is fragrant with cinnamon, with a hint of vanilla and enriched with diced citron. As a final touch, it is decorated with multicolored candied whole fruits.
Cassatine with Almond Paste
The cassatine are another by-product of the Virgin’s breasts pastries: they are miniature cassate Siciliane and…. with the help of a fertile fantasy they resemble a women breast: and in fact they are topped with a cherry to resemble a woman’s nipple.
Sfingi di San Giuseppe San Joseph Sfingi
To commemorate San Giuseppe, the leavened dough, originally used to make the breasts of a virgin is improved with eggs to make it lighter and tastier, stuffed with ricotta cream, decorated with a cherry, symbolizing the nipple, and called Sfingi di San Giuseppe.
The home-made sfingi basic recipe is popular for the easiness of the preparation. This basic recipe for sfingi is preferred, liked and prepared by many housewives.
The zeppole served in pizzerie and street festivals are made with similar dough and dunked in granulated sugar.
Crispeddi Fritters Catania Style
Home-madeFritters with Ricotta Catanesi
Crispeddi Casarecci con Ricotta –
Crispeddi ca Ricotta
The round shaped sweet type pastry is fried dough filled in layer with ricotta cream topped with a coating of candied fruits, and covered with chocolate chips and after being fried, they are covered with granulated sugar and/or honey
Fritters with Raisins
Crispeddi con Uvetta Secca
Crispeddi di San Martinu
In the eastern part of Sicily and in particular in Catania and Syracuse, the feast of Saint Martin, on November 11th, is celebrated with religious rite and with the preparation of the crispeddi of Saint Martin.
Sfingi con Ricotta Fritters with Ricotta
Sfingi con Ricotta - Sfinciteddi - Fritteddi
These "frittelle" are made mostly in the countryside in the province of Palermo, Trapani and Syracuse, Being so easy to make and because of the few common ingredients used, it explains the popularity of this snack.
Mr. Frank Curcurato, whose paternal ancestors were from Villasmundo, in the province of Syracuse has a recipe for Sfingi (we call these frittedde or sfinciteddi), that if it is not equal, it is very similar to the recipe we propose.
My Mother’s Sfingi Recipe
My mother made these delicious delicacies not for any special occasion, only if she was in the mood and had the time to make them. She never weighed or measured the ingredients, but the end results were always positive.
San Martin’s Sfingi with Potatoes
San Martin’s Sfingi -Fritters
Sfingi di San Martino
Sfinci i San Martinu chi Patati
The potatoes sfingi are also called crispeddi con patate; these fritters are prepared for Saint Joseph, for Christmas and for other occasion.
Virgin's Breasts Preface
Virgin's Breasts Baked by the Nuns
Last time I enjoyed monastery’s pastries, it was in the late 1960's, when the nuns of the Monastery of Saint Catherine, in Piazza Bellini in Palermo were still baking their heavenly and savory desserts.
Virgins Breasts Made in Sambuca
The Virgins Breasts Pastries for the first time were baked in the Monastery “Collegio di Maria” in Sambuca, in the province of Agrigento, for the occurrence of the wedding of the area’s lord, marquis Beccardelli. These pastries were called Paste delle Vergini, in the historical novel “The Gattopardo” by Tommaso di Lampedusa.
Virgin’s Breasts in Palermo
The monastery of Santa Maria delle Vergini, which had a retail shop in the back of the convent in Piazza Venezia, was famous for minni di virgini filled with egg less custard combined with a sweet squash preserve.The nuns made two varieties of cassatine: one stuffed with ricotta cream and one type with a combination of eggless custard and a preserve preferably pumpkin or preserved fruits prepared in the convent
("Cassatine di Sant' Agata" - "Cassatelle di Sant'Agata")
Saint Agatha, the Patron Saint of Catania, had dedicated her virginity to God. Because she rejected the amorous proposals of a Roman prefect, she was persecuted. Being a Christian she was tortured and had her breasts severed off.
To commemorate this occurrence, pastries are baked and made in Catania in honor of their Saint Patron and are called Saint Agatha Breasts or cassatelle for modesty and respect.
The genovesi baked in Sicilian pastry shops are a commercial version of the breast of virgin. The baked or fried cassateddi or the minni di vergine, originally were baked by the nuns in the convents, are the home-made version.
These pastries are baked all year around and served as a snack or as dessert.
The simple original recipe honey, ricotta and bread dough has been changed to a finer taste and as a result the flavor has been enhanced with unusual seasonings and spices to give the genovesi a distinctive a very agreeable savor to the palate.
Ricotta Cream Turnover
Ravioli con Crema di Ricotta”)
Cassateddi Fritti o ‘Nfurnati”).
The original recipe made with bread dough and stuffed with ricotta, honey and spices, has been slightly changed and updated to include some fat, alcohol and eggs, giving to the cassateddi the present characteristics of lightness and a distinctive taste very pleasant to the palate.
Cassateddi Chickpeas Filling
Ravioli con Crema di Ceci al Cioccolatte
Cassateddi ri Ciciri Fritti
Cassateddi filled with chickpeas and cocoa cream: the taste is typical and very agreeable to the palate.
Wines and Drinks
What Sicilian Drink
Cosa si Beve in Sicilia
The most popular and preferred drink in all parts of Sicily is water. A glass of water could be bought with a few drops of a solution called zammu’ or zambu’, morphed from zanbucu or sammucu, the sambuco or elderberry flower. Sicilian home made liquors, rosolio, gassose, a large variety of wines and the famous Marsala and other dessert wines.
Festino di Santa Rosalia
Saint Rosalie Celebrations
Saint Rosalie Festival
The Festino, la Grande Festa, goes from July 13th to July 15th.
For the occasion a big barge is built with the statue of the Saint in the square outside the Cathedral; the statue remains covered with a veil until the 13th, when the rituals start with sermons, prayers, hymns and concerts, with the participation of the people, and the clergy.
Christmas- Natale day was a day of celebration and a special dinner was served according to the local traditions, available food, and the family economic.
Traditional rules are strictly observed by some families, featuring Christmas Eve dinners proposing three fish courses to symbolize the three Wise Men, or seven fish courses to symbolize the biblical seven days of the creation, or thirteen fish courses to symbolize the twelve Apostles and our Lord Jesus.
pasta with clams, mussels or fish sauce; capitone fritto – fried eels, baccala’- salted cod, aragoste al limone o fra’ diavolo – lobsters in lemon sauce or in a spice sauce, calamari fritti o in salsa – fried or stewed squid, scungilli – conches and polpo – octopus.
Easter, or as it is called in Italian Pasqua is an adopted version of the celebration of the Jewish Pesach,”the Passage” or Passover, which commemorate the freedom and exodus of the Israelites (Jewish slaves) from Egypt during the reign of the Pharaoh Ramses II and it is celebrated with a “Seder”, a family ritual meal, similar to the Last Supper, which effectively it was a Seder celebrated by Jesus, a Jew and his disciples.
Italy Easter is not only a religious celebration it is also an event that reunites families and friends and a gastronomic experience that is rejoiced with special food for the occasion.
the typical main dish for the Easter dinner is the lamb served with potatoes and vegetables, preceded by a pasta dish and concluded with the cassata siciliana, coffee, Moscato di Pantelleria and rosolio.
In Sicily, the Feast of SaintJoseph SanGiuseppe is well celebrated.
The Pasta con Sarde varies in taste according to the location since it is made with the area’s available ingredients: a common feature to this exceptional pasta, it is the good taste that is produced by the unconventional blend of different ingredients and flavors, the smell of saffron, the sharpness of the salted anchovies and the zest of the fresh sardines which are combine to create a favorite dish for gourmets and food lovers.
The Tavola is filled with cauliflowers and cardoons fried in pastetta, caponatina, fried eggplants, stuffed artichokes, tomatoes, peppers stuffed with breadcrumbs and cheese, fava beans, croquettes made with potatoes and rice, fagioli, chickpeas, lentils, all kind of vegetables in seasons, frittate (egg omelets), fried fish, including baccala’, and without fail the maccu di San Giuseppe. This creamy legumes soup, the maccu di San Giuseppe is cooked for this occasion, as it was prepared in the pre-Christian era; it is made with a mixture of the previous year leftover dry legumes, overcooked until it becomes a mush.
Introduction to Italian Regions
Brief history the Italian Regions.
Above Liguria and Emilia-Romagna are the Northern Italian Regions; above Latium and Molise are included the Central Italian Regions, Campania, Puglia and the remaining regions are designated as the Southern Italian. The Italia Insular comprises the main islands of Sicily and Sardinia.
Italian cuisine is divided into 20 regional cuisines and each regional cooking is further sub-divided into as many towns, villages and even households which makes defining what is Italian or regional cuisine a complicated task.
Saltinbocca alla Romana
For the easiness of preparation and for the delicate taste, Saltinbocca or Saltimbocca all Romana is a dish very famous and popular in Italian restaurants.
North of the Po’ River
The Regions North of the Po’ River
The area in the Northern part of Italy called Italia cisalpina, which is on the north side of the river Po’, includes the regions of Piedmont, Aosta Valley, Lombardy, Veneto, Venezia Tridentina (Trentino and Friuli) and Venezia Giulia. These regions make some specialties enjoyed and known word-wide.
Piedmont | Aosta Valley | Lombardy | Veneto | VeneziaTridentina | Friuli-Venezia Giulia
The regions of Emilia, Tuscany, Latium, Corsica and part of Campania were inhabited since prehistoric times by the Etruscan, a people of which there are no clear historical accounts of their provenience, their evolution or their mysterious language. The Etruscans had a religious respect for the dead and the occult. There was a prophecy that the Etruscan people were going to fade away and when in the fifth century BC the Etruscan civilization began to decline it was interpreted as a fulfillment of the prophecy which made the defeats suffered by the Romans accepted with passiveness and stoicism.
The Roman kingdom was founded by the Etruscans. They developed and transformed the farmland of the Seven Hills of Rome into an important city, ruled by Etruscans.
Long before Roma was built, the Samnites, a population that migrated and blended with the descendants of the Italic Oschi or Opici, settled in the territory corresponding to the regions of Abruzzo, Molise, most of Basilicata and part of Campania.
They introduced new strategies to the art of war and developed the square shield. They fought the Romans in three wars, they won the second war, but lost the last war in 290BC and the Samnites retreated in the mountains but never completely surrender their fighting spirit, not even when in the year 82BC Lucius Cornelius Sulla destroyed all the cities and villages in Samnium and killed or dispersed the population.
The Romans used the Samnites as gladiators;
As with most parts of southern Italy, the region had been settled by Achaeans, Cretans, Spartans and occupied by Romans, by Gothic German tribes, by the Byzantines, Saracens, Normans, Swabians, French, Germans, Spaniards, the Savoia, Austrians and others.
The artifacts present all over Puglia and Calabriaare evidence of the people that lived in the region. Greek ruins, Roman roads, aqueducts, amphitheaters, the Romanic and Gothic cathedrals, the Norman Castles, the numerous churches and old and contemporary structures are marks of their passage and influence.
The regions of Apulia, Le Puglie, and Calabria are located at the boot of the Italian peninsula.
The Greeks colonized it, made this land their second homeland and called it Magna Grecia meaning “the Great Greece”.
The people and their history, the traditions and folklore, the economy and Sardinia’s geographical features have created an unmatched food culture different, simple, genuine and at times positively archaic.
The staple food in Sardinia is bread, game and meat as it was in pre-historic times. Culurgiones, Su Succu
Mallureddus. Coietas are involtini.Cinghiale, wild boar
Clams, mussels and crabs are stuffed, baked or cooked in sauce; snails are sautéed and dressed with parsley.
Cauliflowers, peas, cabbage fennels, potatoes, chick peas, string beans, tomatoes, eggplants and green for salad are grown in season, in the family vegetable garden.
My wife Terry and my nephew Joseph Ciaramitaro have been encouraging me to bring about this collection of recipes and Sicilian Cooking Plus was created.
We are pleased to offer you this collection of Sicilian recipes and to give you some information about the Island’s cooking, along with Sicilian traditions, history and legends
History of Sicily.
The features of Sicily and of its people.
Stories and myths linked to Sicilian cooking.
Brief history of Sicily and some aspects of this island unknown to some people.
Information about the island, some of the history of their inhabitants and aspects of their way of living and life-style to better understand and assess the Sicilians.
The Sicani and the Siculi.
Where the Sicilian coooking recipes come from.
his small island, a few square miles bigger than the state of Vermont, originally was populated by the Sicani and the Siculi. In the Bronze Age, the Elymians invaded the west of the island and since than, it has been a continuous dominance of one ruler after another.
Sicily was occupied for the beauty of the landscape, the richness of the soil, the beautiful climate and for the strategic position in the center of the Mediterranean Sea.
The Greeks called Sicily Megale’ Hellas (later the Romans called it “Magna Grecia”) meaning Great Greece, they settled in this luscious and fertile land with mild climate and founded many cities and trading posts.
As was the case with most groups of new immigrants, the Sicilians were faced with antagonism and dislike wherever they settled. The American dream became a nightmare.
Sicilians in the U.S.A.
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Interesting links for Sicilian-Americans
Sicilian way of life
Sicilian-Americans can be better understood and assessed.
In this collection of Sicilian recipes, we will give information about Sicilian cuisine, and Sicilian history,traditions and legends. We will present aspects of our Sicilian way of life so that the Sicilians and the heritage of Sicilian-Americans can be better understood and assessed.