HOME > Chowhound > Home Cooking >


Typical Sicilian ????

Anyone know what would be typical Sicilan, a dish,a meal etc as well as street fare.As an American of Sicilan heritage I know foods vary from region to region as well as opinions on whats typical.I remember my Grandmother and her friends having some heated debates,Thanks

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Hhhhmmm. Caponata is a Sicilian specialty. I'd also say anything with anchovies or anything with other types of salted/cured fish has some Sicilian influence for sure. Try seasoned breadcrumbs over pasta. Very sicilian, and very interesting. Sicilians also have great respect for their citrus trees. Recipes with citrus would be considered good too.

    Link numero uno: http://sicilia.indettaglio.it/eng/gas...

    Link numero due: http://www.bestofsicily.com/recipes.htm

    Link numero tre: http://www.virtualitalia.com/travel/s...

    Link numero quattro: http://www.deliciousitaly.com/Sicilia...

    1. There's a great cookbook, Sicilian Home Cooking by mother and daughter, Wanda and Giovanna Tornabene. It's fun to read and has some good recipes. Recipes from Gangivecchio, their abbey in Sicily's Madonie Mountains. The mother has written others as well.
      Unfortunately, our ingredients often can't compare with what you'd find in Sicily, especially the dairy products!

      1. Anything stuffed and rolled, particularly seafood.
        See Batali's swordfish involtini.

        Also, more than other regions of Italy, sweets are very important including marzipan. When I visited Taormina, nearly every store-front had beautiful marzipan decoratives.

        Foods with spices like cinnamon and other African influences are prevalent because the region is closer to Africa than Milan.

        1. I wish that I shared your Sicilian heritage--my knowledge of Sicilian cooking comes from reading and an all-too-brief trip to eastern Sicily and Lipari.

          One of my favorite books about Sicilian food is Mary Taylor Simeti's Pomp and Sustenance, but that might be less of a cookbook (and more like a textbook) than many people would want.

          Some of my favorite Sicilian recipes are:

          Pasta con le sarde and its correlary, pasta con le sarde a mare (pasta with sardines in which the sardines are still in the sea)
          Pasta alla Norma (a pasta with eggplant recipe from Catania, the birthplace of Vincenzo Bellini, and named for his most famous opera)
          Arancini di riso

          Dolci are definitely important:

          The ingredients I think of as being typical of Sicilian food are:
          wild fennel
          smoked ricotta

          2 Replies
          1. re: Nettie

            You can add Raisins to your list of Sicilian ingredients. Add they are often added to savory dishes Such as Beef Brasciole stuffed with garlic pecorino breadcrumb and raisins.

            1. re: Nettie

              I learned something new today - I didn't realize that there is Sicilian bottarga in addition to Sardinian bottarga. From what I read, it seems as if the Sicilians prefer the tuna roe and the Sardinians the gray mullet roe.


            2. Arancini. It's like the official national dish of "S'gilia".

              Sicilian cooking uses a lot more hot pepper and garlic than other places -- if you have hot pepper, garlic, olives, capers and anchovies in your dish, it's definitely Sicilian.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Das Ubergeek

                Mimmetta Lo Monte's Classic Sicilian Cookbook" is good and a fun read.


              2. My Sicilian Aunt Ro makes pepper salad and stuffed hot cherry peppers every Christmas Eve, which is a prelude to a fish orgy that concludes with linguini and langoustine tails in a spicy tomato gravy.

                Yes, she calls it gravy.

                And although WE don't do stewed eel on Christmas Eve, our ancestors did.

                1. Thanks for the replies.....I'd realized years ago that there are many family recipes that make up the cuisine.Any street snacks? or recipes for Sicilian cucusu(couscous) my grandmother made it either with pureed fava,splitpeas or with merluza also wild fennel in New york does it have another name?

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: scunge

                    As soon as you mentioned wild fennel, another vegetable came to mind which is extremely Sicilian. The cardone. You can possibly google for some recipes. I've never cooked with it.

                    Link: http://www.theproducehunter.com/produ...
                    You can typically find it around the winter holidays.

                    1. re: Cheese Boy

                      And for Carduna (Italian pronunciation but probably not the spelling:) my grandmother who wasn't Sicilian but from outside of Rome, would dredge in flour then dip in eggs beaten with much pecorino cheese with s&p added and quickly fry in olive oil. You have to remove the tough fibers from them before cooking or they'll be too stringy. Unless they're very young carduna

                      1. re: Chas

                        Ah, yes. Cardoons. they look like enormous celery stalks. Don't have much of a flavor, but they are great fried just like you describe!

                        1. re: MaspethMaven

                          The cardoons at Knoll Farm stand at the San Francisco Ferry Building market last Saturday were the best I've ever had. I trimmed them (a nuisance but necessary), cut them in six-inch lengths and poached them about 30 minutes; while they cooled I made a B├ęchamel, added about half a cup of grated Pecorino Romano, then put the cardoons in a gratin dish, spooned the sauce over, grated some more Pecorino over the top, baked 20 minutes at 350┬░ F. until the top was slightly browned. They were almost sweet, a really wonderful flavor--artichoke-y but different.

                          1. re: rootlesscosmo

                            You're heartless!!! Posting something that delicious sounding and not even sharing any:)

                        2. re: Chas

                          Interesting - I never removed the fibers, but I do parboil before frying. I'll have to try that.

                      2. re: scunge

                        My Sicilian Great Grandmother made Cuscusu with Fish Soup. What a taste treat!!! I have done something similar with the moe instant variety of CousCous rather than the long steamimg . I have made Calamari Stew with it and it is close in flavor to what she used to make.

                      3. I second the Gangivecchio books. There's "home cooking" and another one with more recipes. i learned to make lots of wonderful things, and it is very authentic but modern too. for example, people in Sicily (now)use cream and/or butter in certain dishes (like risotto or a fresh tomato sauce w/ mozz.Don't forget that there was a huge Nordic influence and so cream was actually introduced a long time ago.) Instead of just making Sicilian-American dishes, these are the types of things people really cook nowadays.Most of them are olive oil based vegetable, meat, and some amazing seafood recipes. REALLY the best Italian cookbook I've ever seen, and yes I grew up eating Italian food, my grandparents immigrated from Napoli.

                        1. chick pea fritters. Palermo street food - I just can't remember what they are really called!
                          pasta with sardines and wild fennel. In fact - anythign with wild fennel!

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: ali patts

                            I believe the chick pea fritters are called panelles. Ferdinando's, the Sicilian Focacceria in Brooklyn, serves up a great panelle special. Panelles with ricotta on a great roll.