GASTRONOMICA TOUR OF ITALY: SICILIA

Sicilian cuisine is the expression of the culinary art developed in Sicily since ancient times and is closely linked to the historical, cultural and religious events of the island. Since the times of Ancient Greece, a very specific style of culinary habits had been developing in Sicily which over the centuries has been enriched with new flavours and new dishes, following the historical vicissitudes of the Mediterranean island.

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It is, therefore, a regional gastronomic culture that shows traces and contributions of all the cultures that have settled in Sicily in the last two millennia, handed down from generation to generation as well as in the literary field, which explains why some recipes, of very ancient origin, they are still prepared and served frequently at the table.

Complex and articulated, Sicilian cuisine is often considered the richest in specialities and the most scenic in Italy. Some of the best-known foods, popular not only regionally but even worldwide, are Sicilian cassata, iris, Sicilian cannoli, granita and arancine. We can find also numerous other delicious typical products of this region, such as olive schiacciate dell’Etna, pistachio salami, capers, Nero D’Avola wine, Ragusano cheese, pistachio pesto from Bronte, Etna Rosso wine and many more.

Thanks to its mild climate, the island is rich in spices and aromatic plants; oregano, mint, rosemary, are a daily part of the Sicilian condiments. The fertile soil produces oranges and lemons in large quantities. Almonds, prickly pear, pistachio and olives are other culinary symbols in which the island excels.

Let’s discover together how to make three staple dishes of this fantastic region.

SARDE A BECCAFICO

  INGREDIENTS FOR 6 PEOPLE

 

-520g of cleaned, scaled, butterflied, head and spine bone removed sardines

Laurel to taste

FOR THE STUFFING

-50g breadcrumbs

-25 g raisins

-10g parsley

-25g pine nuts

-15 g anchovies fillets in oil

-15g sugar

Salt to taste

-Black pepper to taste

-20g extra virgin olive oil

FOR THE TOPPING

-35g acacia honey

-10g extra virgin olive oil

-35g orange juice

Sarde beccafico  

HOW TO PREPARE IT

To prepare sardines a beccafico, make sure your sardines are already clean (you will need 520 g of butterflied open sardines).

To make the filling: first of all, put the raisins to soak in cold water for about ten minutes. Then pour a drizzle of oil into a pan, add the breadcrumbs and toast it for a couple of minutes over medium heat, stirring constantly.

Meanwhile, chop the parsley and coarsely chop the anchovies. In a bowl pour the breadcrumbs, the drained and squeezed raisins, pine nuts, anchovies, parsley, sugar, salt and pepper.

Mix the whole mixture and set aside. Grease a 20x20cm baking dish and stuff the sardines with the mixture. Arrange a little stuffing on each sardine and roll it up starting from the part of the head, so as to form a roll.

Gradually arrange the sardines inside the pan so that they are close together. Take the bay leaves and arrange them between one roll and another.

At this point, sprinkle the surface with the leftover filling. Y

For the topping: pour the honey and the orange juice into a small bowl and the oil. Mix everything together beating quickly with a fork, then spread over the sardines using a spoon. Bake in a preheated static oven at 200° C for about 20-25 minutes. Then take out and serve hot.

PASTA ALLA NORMA

  INGREDIENTS FOR 4 PEOPLE

 

-350 grams of Tortiglioni

-2 Eggplants

-1 kilo of tomatoes

-2 cloves of garlic

-300 grams of salted ricotta

-300 ml of extra virgin olive oil

Salt and basil to taste

Pasta alla norma  

HOW TO PREPARE IT

Wash, clean and slice the aubergines into thick slices, arrange them in a colander in layers and salt each layer with coarse salt, then put a plate and a weight on top and leave it for about half an hour, so that eggplants lose their bitter taste.

Wash the aubergines to remove the salt and dab them to remove the excess water, then set aside the best slices (they will go on top of the dish at the end) and cut the remaining ones into thick strips.

In a pan, heat the oil, keeping a few tablespoons aside for the sauce, and as soon as it is hot, fry the strips of aubergine. When they are golden brown put them to drain in a colander.

Do the same with the slices you have left aside, brown them well in hot oil and drain for a few minutes, then set them aside with those cut into strips.

Wash the tomatoes well and cut them crosswise in the tip part, then blanch them in boiling water for a few seconds and drain, remove the skin and chop finely.

In a pan heat the crushed garlic with the oil and add the diced tomatoes, then let them cook for at least 30 minutes over low heat and without the lid, salt a little almost at the end of cooking and add the aubergines into previously fried strips. and a generous handful of basil chopped with your hands. Cook for another five minutes.

Once the sauce is ready, cook the pasta in salted water and drain it al dente, then pass it back in the sauce and add part of the salted ricotta. Mix well and serve the pasta hot, decorating it with slices of aubergine, ricotta and fresh basil.

CANNOLI SICILIANI

  INGREDIENTS FOR 10 CANNOLI

 

For the shell:

-250 g of 00 flour

-25 g of lard

-20 g of sugar

-50 ml of Marsala wine or dry red wine

-30 ml of vinegar

-5 g of cocoa (optional)

-A pinch of salt

-Lard for frying

For the stuffing

-800 g of sheep ricotta

-350 g of sugar

-200 g of chocolate chips

-1 vanilla pod seeds

To decorate

-100 g of candied orange peel

-50 g of powdered sugar

Cannoli siciliani  

HOW TO PREPARE IT

For the ricotta cream

Drain the sheep ricotta in a colander and place it in the refrigerator until it has lost the whey, then sift it, mix it well in a bowl together with the sugar, the vanilla pod seeds and the chocolate chips.

For the shells

On a pastry board, mix the flour, sifted, with the sugar, cocoa, salt, vinegar and lard cut into small pieces, gradually adding a little Marsala until the dough is elastic, smooth and firm.

Shape the dough into a ball, wrap it in cling film and let it rest in the refrigerator for at least 60 minutes.

Roll out the dough until you get a thin sheet of less than 2 millimetres, then with the help of a pasta cutter, cut out discs with a diameter of 9-10 cm.

Wrap the shapes of dough around the metal cylinders, wetting the edges of the dough with water before welding them on each other.

Fry the cannoli rinds in the lard at 170 ° C until they are golden and solid. Then put the Sicilian cannoli peels on absorbent paper and let them cool before removing the metal cylinders.

Stuff the cannoli with the ricotta cream only shortly before consuming them, unless you like them with a little more softened rind. Finally, sprinkle with powdered sugar and garnish the ends with candied orange peel.

BUON APPETITO!

 

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