Today in the Tour of Italy in the Kitchen, we visit an Italian island known for it’s beautiful blue skies, rocky coasts, and clear ocean water — Sicily. This region holds a special place in our hearts as it’s where Carmelo grew up. Many of our award-winning dishes are Sicilian, and we’re very proud of that!
Sicily is an island off the coast of Italy known for it’s rich history, culture, and cuisine. In fact, it has such a long history with food and wines that it’s often referred to as “God’s Kitchen.” Sicily and it’s biggest province, Palermo, are known for a variety of delicious foods, some which you may be very familiar with and some that may be new to you.
One of the most popular Sicilian dishes is “Pizza Siciliana.” Even though this dish varies even within Sicily, Sicilian-style pizza is generally made baked in a square olive-oiled pan, often with more dough and cheese than most Italian pizza. At the restaurant, we serve a version with tomato sauce, fresh tomatoes, basil and mozzarella. You must try it for yourself and compare with traditional pizza.
One of our favorites from Sicily is “arancini,” which are balls of rice, filled with ragù, coated with breadcrumbs, and baked — how could you not love that?? The use of rice in Italian cuisine usually comes second to pasta. But in Sicily, rice plays a very important role in part to the region’s Arabic influence during the 10th century. The name “arancini” comes from the word for orange (“Arancia”), which resembles the dish’s color and texture.
Perhaps the most well known part of Sicilian cuisine comes from its access to a fabulous variety of seafood — anchovies, sardines, calamari, octopus, mussels, clams, shrimp, and many kinds of fish. Sicily is known for it’s ancient fish markets, or “Pescherias.” This is where the locals gather to assess the day’s catch from the Mediterranean Sea. Squid (“Sepia”), mackerel (“Sgombro”), tuna (“Tonno”), and swordfish (“Pesce Spada”) are among Sicilian favorites. Sicilian fish are simply prepared, often grilled or mixed with shellfish in a hearty fish stew.
Carmelo’s favorite is “Pesce Spada al Pomodoro,” a swordfish dish with involtini of eggplant filled with spaghetti and topped with crabmeat. Trust us, you must try it!
What are your favorites? Have you been to Sicily?