Original Sicilian Recipes

There is much more to Sicilian food culture than many people outside of Italy realize. Mastering the art of Sicilian cooking is not just a matter of learning recipes but it requires a whole approach to the preparation and eating of food. This approach can be understood, among other ways, through a series of unwritten “rules” that guide most Sicilians culinary habits.
Always eat what's in season. Actually this rule should be valid anywhere, Sicilians still do follow it, by and large: asparagus in the spring, zucchini, tomatoes and peppers in the summer, mushrooms for the fall, cabbage and hearty stews in the winter. In the last few years in many supermarkets, out of season fruits and vegetables have appeared, imported from warmer climates. They are usually very expensive and of course, not very tasty. Frozen vegetables are also another option, which also allows for out of season cooking, but at the expense of freshness and taste.

In the Sicilian food culture there is no such thing as a "main course,” but rather a series of courses of varying number, depending on the occasion -- usually a first course (primo) of pasta, soup, rice, etc. and a (secondo) second course of meat, fish, or vegetable, often served with a side dish (contorno) of vegetables. Fresh fruit usually is served as dessert. For more formal occasions an appetizer (antipasto) comes before the primo. Today it is increasingly common to have a “piatto unico,” (single dish) that serves as both primo and a secondo.

When cooking pasta you may ask what exactly ‘al dente’ means. Sicilians will consider ‘al dente’ a relatively firm consistency. In no case should pasta be chalky to the bite, nor should it be mushy or soggy! The pasta should give a little resistance when you bite into it. Please be aware that pasta will continue to cook for a while after it is drained, even more so if you mix it with its sauce over low heat, as some recipes call for. Do drain your pasta while it is still just slightly ‘underdone’ to your taste.
Equally important to cooking pasta al dente, is making sure that the pasta is cooked in plenty of well salted water. Usually the general 'rule of thumb' is one liter of salted water for each 100g of pasta. The normal portion of pasta for one person is between 75 to 100 grams. The water should actually taste salty, like a soup, or your pasta will be bland.

First courses

  • Pasta with Pesto from Trapani
    Preparation of the Pesto Sauce

    Put in a mortar the garlic ,salt and the basil: rotating the pestle, crushing and pounding the ingredients along the walls. Add the oil gradually...

  • Spaghetti with prawns
    Spaghetti with prawns

    In a frying pan sauté the chopped onion in abundant oil, add the tomatoes without seeds and the garlic cat into small pieces . Once the tomatoes...

  • Pasta with fried zucchini, tomatoes and bacon.
    Pasta with fried zucchini, tomatoes and bacon.

    Cut the zucchini into small cubes, then fry in abundant oil, drain and set aside.
    Cook the pasta in abundant salted water. Meanwhile in a...

  • Sicilian pasta alla norma
    Sicilian pasta alla norma

    Saute the garlic and add the chopped tomatoes with a few leaves of basil. Season with salt and pepper and cook over low heat. When the tomato is...

  • Sicilian Pasta with sardines (Pasta con le sarde alla siciliana)
    Sicilian Pasta with sardines (Pasta con le sarde alla siciliana)

    In a frying pan fry the chopped onion with some oil, then add the sardines, and if need some more olive oil, taking care to turn them often...

  • Spaghetti alla Glassa
    Spaghetti alla Glassa

    Cut the lean beef into small pieces and fry in oil with finely chopped onion.
    Add the diced potatoes too, not too small, enough water so...

  • Pasta with Prawns & Pistachio Pesto
    Pasta with Prawns & Pistachio Pesto

    Start by making the pesto sauce: put together in a blender the pistachios, basil, 2 cloves of garlic, salt and pepper to taste and 4 tbsp of olive...

  • Sicilian Risotto
    Sicilian Risotto

    In a frying pan heat the olive oil and 4 tablespoons of the butter over medium heat. Add the chopped onion and the sausage and...

  • Rigatoni ai funghi ( pasta with mashrooms )
    Rigatoni ai funghi ( pasta with mashrooms )

    Wash and clean the mushrooms well, slice them into smallish chunks. In a large frying pan put olive oil and the crushed the garlic and gently fry...