Travel Notes blog
Our favourite Sicilian recipes
by Max Lane
71 min read

Our favourite Sicilian recipes

Our favourite Sicilian recipes
Learn to cook some of the world's finest cuisine from Sicily. We will have you serving food that will compete with the finest Piazzas.
Table of contents

One of the most important aspects of Sicilian cuisine is the quality of the ingredients used. Sicily, like many other areas of Italy, still follow the seasons very closely. It is virtually impossible, for example, to find non-seasonal fruit or vegetables in most greengrocers'. The result is that ingredients are fresh, often produced in Sicily (or Italy) and are wonderfully fragrant and tasty. So, to get the best out of our recipes you should buy fresh, in-season ingredients where possible.

All our recipes are local, some invented by us (here in Sicily), and others passed on to us by chefs or the owners of our properties.

KeyV = vegetarian (ie no meat and no fish/seafood)VO = vegetarian option possible with the omission of one or two non-fundamental ingredientsVE = veganVEO = vegan option possible with the omission of one or two non-fundamental ingredients


Antipasti, snacks and light bites

1. Quinoa salad

Recipe reproduced with the kind permission of Rocca delle Tre Contrade.

Ingredients (serves 4)

200g quinoa400g water50g sicilian almonds1 Sicilian lemon1 celery stick8-10 tender young carrots

Equal parts of:rocket (arugula)spinach leaveslettuce heart

Fresh herbs to taste:parsleymint leavestarragonbasilmarjoramsaltpepperextra virgin olive oilbalsamic vinegar


Turn on the oven at 200°C (or 180°C with fan).

Rinse and peel the carrots, and leave about 1 inch of the green leaves at the top. Chop the almonds coarsely.

Prepare a baking tray and cover it with ungreased parchment paper. Coat the carrots well with olive oil, salt, pepper and and a few drops of balsamic vinegar, and put them on one half of the baking tray. Place the tray in the middle of the oven to roast. After 15-20 minutes, add the almonds on the other half of the baking tray. Let both the almonds and carrots roast for another 10 minutes until golden brown. Leave to cool.

While the carrots are in the oven, add quinoa and water to a casserole and bring to the boil, lower the heat and let simmer covered for 12 minutes (or follow the instructions on the quinoa package). Take off the heat and leave covered for another 8 minutes. The quinoa should have absorbed all the water by now. Empty the cooked quinoa grains onto a big serving plate and let cool.

Rinse the rocket salad leaves and spinach, and clean and cut the lettuce heart and celery crosswise. Mix it all into the quinoa. Add olive oil, salt, pepper and the juice of one lemon (to taste) and mix well. Garnish with finely chopped herbs. Place the roasted carrots on top, sprinkle the almonds across the salad and serve.

2. Sicilian Frittella

(Warm fava bean, pea and artichoke salad)

V / VE

Ingredients (serves 6)

500g fresh peas800g fresh fava beans6 artichokessalt and pepperolive oil1tbsp white wine vinegarA handful of mintA few shallots


Clean the artichokes and take off any hard leaves or spiky parts. Cut them into bits and soak them in water and lemon juice for about 15 minutes. Shell the peas and the fava beans.Lightly fry the chopped shallots in olive oil until soft and add the artichokes, the peas, the fava beans and a glass of water. Add salt and pepper to taste and cover with a lid. Cook on a low flame for about half an hour, stirring every 5 minutes and ensuring there is always some liquid (if necessary add more water). Chop the mint and soak in a drop of warm water. Add the vinegar to the mint, stir well and add to the artichokes, peas and fava beans and cook for another couple of minutes. By the end of cooking the liquid should have almost disappeared though frittella should not be dry. Before serving, add a good dribble of extra virgin olive oil and, optionally, a few wafer-thin slices of Parmesan.

3. Arancinette all'Olmo

(Villa Don Arcangelo all'Olmo's mini fried rice-balls)

Ingredients (serves 10-12)

500g risotto rice200ml milk1 vegetable stock cube1 sachet of saffron1 pinch of cinnamon50g butter50g grated Parmesan cheese100g cubed ham100g cubed Provola or other tasty cheese250g durum wheat flour3 beaten eggs with a drop of milk300g breadcrumbsSaltVegetable oil

For the thick, elastic, binding béchamel sauce25g butter25g flour200ml milk1 pinch of salt

For the ‘regular’ béchamel25g butter25g flour250ml milkA grating of nutmeg1 pinch of salt


In a large pan, bring 1 litre of salted water and 200ml of milk to the boil. Add the 500g of rice and the vegetable stock cube. Mix frequently and once the rice is half cooked add the saffron. Slightly al dente and dry, add the cinnamon, 50g of butter and the same quantity of grated Parmesan cheese. Leave to cool.

While the rice is cooling, prepare a white elastic béchamel sauce that will bind the rice together. Melt 50gr of butter, add 25g of flour and mix well to create a thick roux. Take off the heat and add 200gr of milk little by little stirring constantly. Add a pinch of salt and then put back on the heat, stirring until it thickens to a sticky, elastic paste. Then add to the rice, mix well and lay the mixture on a large plate to cool

While waiting for the rice mixture to cool, prepare a ‘regular’ béchamel sauce with 25gr of butter, 25gr of flour, 250ml of milk, a grating of nutmeg and a pinch of salt. Follow the same method used for the elastic binding sauce and when ready, add the cubes of ham and Provola cheese.

When the rice is cool, take a small flat palmful, add a little of the ham and Provala béchamel mix and then fold the rice around it, adding a little more rice to fully enclose the filling. Put the rice balls on a plate and when all are done, place in the fridge to cool.

When you are ready to fry the arancini (which should now be cold), take out of the fridge and roll them, first in flour, then in a beaten egg and milk mix and finally in breadcrumbs.

Heat some vegetable oil in a large pan and add the arancini one by one. Don’t add too many at one time as this will bring down the temperature of the oil. When golden brown, remove and place on grease-proof paper. Serve hot.

4. Insalata all'Eolian

(Aeolian summer salad)

VO / VEO (omit the anchovy fillets)

Ingredients (serves 4)

200g cherry tomatoes, halved1 Tropea or other red oniona small handful of capers8 slices of lightly toasted bread1 clove of garlic (crushed or chopped very finely)8 anchovy fillets chopped into largish piecesExtra virgin olive oilSalt and pepper


While toasting the bread (thickish slices), halve the cherry tomatoes, crush or finely chop the garlic and chop the anchovy fillets into large pieces. Cut the onion into thin rings and then place all the ingredients together in a bowl. Add some olive oil, season with salt and pepper and mix well.

When the bread is toasted put onto 4 plates, dribble with olive oil, add a few spoonfulls of salad on top and serve.

5. Indian-Sicilian calamari fritti

An Indian-Sicilian recipe of squid in a light, delicately spiced batter, inspired by the visit of a group of London's finest Indian chefs (from Michelin-starred Tamarind, Zaika and the Bombay Brasserie) cooking with Sicilian ingredients, each dish being served with one of Planeta's wines.

Ingredients (serves 4)

For the batter:120g flour1.5 tsps baking powder135ml ice-cold soda water1 pinch chilli powder1 small tuft of coriander, finely chopped1 pinch of powdered cuminSaltPepper

For the marinade:200gr squid chopped into rings and smallish pieces1 small red chilli, finely chopped1 small handful of coriander, finely chopped1 clove of garlic, finely chopped1 tsp of fresh grated ginger, finely choppedThe juice of 1 lime2tbsp extra virgin olive oil


Clean and chop the squid into rings and smallish pieces. Place in a bowl and add all the marinade ingredients. Mix well and place in the fridge for about an hour. After about 50 minutes, start making your batter, mixing all the ingredients into a bowl until you have a nice creamy liquid that is not too dense, but nice and cold.

Take the squid out of its marinade and place in the batter. Heat some sunflower oil in a deep pan (it should be about 1/3 full). When the oil is piping hot, start adding the pieces of battered squid, 4/5 at a time. As soon as they start to turn golden brown, take out and place on absorbent kitchen roll. Sprinkle with sea salt and serve immediately.

6. N'Zalata cu l'Acqua

(Raw king prawn salad)

Ingredients (serves 3/4)

For the sauce:100g green tomatoes10g fennel20g celery20g cucmber1g fresh oregano1g fresh mint4g fresh basil10g boiled potatoes2g sherry vinegar1g balsamic vinegarSalt and pepper60g extra virgin olive oilMineral water

For the salad:12 red king prawns80g boiled potatoes cubed80g green beans80g cherry tomatoes80g cucumberSalt and pepperExtra virgin olive oilEdible flowersCroutons


Blend the ingredients for the sauce, strain and return to the fridge.

Dice the salad vegetables and chop the peeled prawns into small cubes; add olive oil, season, mix well and then place the mixture in a smallish doughnut-shaped mould (something with a hole in the middle). Leave for a few minutes and then release the contents from the mould, creating a colourful circle with a central hole.

Fill the hole some of the chilled sauce, decorate with flowers, croutons and a dribble of extra virgin olive oil.

This recipe was kindly supplied by Chef Angelo at La Foresteria.


7. Arancine

Deep-fried rice balls filled with meat sauce or mozzarella, ham and butter.

Ingredients for 10 “arancine”

400g of arborio rice1 sachet of saffronA few spoonfuls of thick bolognese sauce with peas (prepared separately) OR a 200g mix of mozzarella, ham and butter chopped together.100g grated Parmesan cheese2 egg300g breadcrumbsSalt and pepperA little olive oilVegetable oil for frying


Cook the rice with the saffron in salted water until soft and yellow. Drain well and add a dribble of olive oil to prevent the rice sticking too much. Then add the grated cheese, some freshly ground black pepper and mix well. Leave to cool. In the meantime, beat and season the eggs. When the rice is cool, wet one hand and spread some rice (about 2cm thick) on it. Add a dollop of Bolognese sauce (or the mozzarella, ham and butter mix) in the middle and close the rice into a little ball about the size of a small orange, making sure the contents stay inside. When all 10 rice balls are ready, roll them one by one in the egg and then in the breadcrumbs. Fry (preferably deep fry) in hot oil until golden brown and place on kitchen roll to remove any excess oil. Serve while hot and crunchy.

8. Insalata alla Palermitana

(Salad, Palermo style)

VO / VEO (omit the anchovy fillets)

Ingredients (serves 4)

100g waxy potatoes100g green beans4 anchovy fillets100g tomatoesExtra tasty olive oil1 large onionsalt and peppersA dash of white wine vinegar


Place the onion in its skin on a baking tray and put in a hot oven for about 20-30 minutes until it becomes slightly caramlised and soft. Boil the potatoes and the green beans in salted water, drain and leave to cool. Chop up the tomatoes and add to a large salad bowl. Then, cube the potatoes and add to the tomatoes along with the green beans. Chop up your very soft onion and add the anchovy fillets, bashing down into small pieces. Add a good lashing of excellent olive oil and a dash of white wine vinegar. Salt and pepper to taste and serve cool, either as an antipasti, as a side dish or as a main second.

9. Polpette di broccolo

(Cauliflower fritters)

VO (omit the anchovy fillets)

Ingredients (serves 4)

400g cauliflower1 egg2 anchovy fillets70gr Parmesan cheese1 tbs pine kernels1 tbs raisins30g breadcrumbsolive oilsalt and pepper


Cook the cauliflower in slightly salted water until soft and drain well. After draining you could leave on a very low flame to evaporate any excess liquid. When dry, place in a mixing bowl and squash into a pulp with a fork. Add the other ingredients and mix well until you have a firm mixture.

Heat a little olive oil in a frying pan and shape the mixture into flattish balls. When the oil is hot fry the cauliflower polpette until golden brown on both sides. place on kitchen roll to remove any excess oil and serve as a mouth-watering starter.

10. Purée di zucchini con pancetta croccante

(Courgette puree with crispy smoky bacon)

VO / VEO (omit the bacon)

Ingredients (serves 4)

6 good sized courgettes4 rashers of smoky bacon or pancetta3 cloves of garlicA sprinkling of dried chilliSalt and pepperOlive oil


Slice the courgettes fairly thinly and chop the garlic. Heat a little olive oil in a pan and add the courgettes the garlic and the chilli. Stir well, season and cover, letting the courgettes cook slowly in their own juices on a low flame (they shouldn’t fry). When soft, after about 25-30 minutes, place the contents in a food mixer and whizz until you have a thick liquid with small pieces of courgette still visible. In the meantime fry the bacon until crispy. Serve the purée di zucchini in small individual pots with a rasher of bacon for garnish.

img: villas/Palazzo Gorgoni/1000/Think_Puglia_Palazzo%20Gorgoni_186%20(1).jpg


1. Zuppa Primaverile

VO / VEO (omit the bacon and exchange chicken stock for vegetable or plain water)

(Sicilian Spring soup)

Ingredients (serves 4)

50g smoky bacon, diced small1 onion, chopped1 chili pepper3 cloves of garlic2 carrots, diced small1 large potato, diced small200g garden peas200g fava beans1 glass white wine500ml chicken stockA squirt of tomato concentrateExtra virgin olive oil1 tsp white wine vinegarA small sprig of mint, choppedSalt and pepper


Gently fry the bacon in a little olive oil and then add the chopped onion, garlic and chilli pepper. When the onion is soft, add a glass of white wine. Reduce and burn off the alcohol and add the potato and carrot, both diced into small pieces. Stir well and then add the chicken stock. Cook at a gentle boil until the carrots are cooked, adding some tomato concentrate to the mix and seasoning to taste. Add the peas, the fava beans, the vinegar and the chopped mint and leave for a few minutes until the fava beans are cooked. Serve with a dribble of extra virgin olive oil on top and a piece of crusty white bread.

2. Zuppa di lenticchie Siciliana

VO / VEO (omit the bacon and exchange beef stock for vegetable stock or plain water)

(Sicilian lentil soup)

Ingredients (serves 4)

250g dried lentils50g smoky bacon, diced small1 onion, chopped1 small chili pepper chopped finely2 cloves of garlic1 large carrot, diced smallA few sprigs of wild fennel, choppedA bouquet garni of 1 sage leaf and 1 bay leaf rolled around a small sprig of rosemary and tied with string1 glass red wine500ml beef stock150g ditalini or other small pastaA squirt of tomato concentrateExtra virgin olive oilSalt and pepper


Gently fry the bacon in a little olive oil and then add the chopped onion, garlic, diced carrot and chilli pepper. When the onion is soft, add a glass of red wine. Reduce and burn off the alcohol. Stir and add the hot beef stock. Rinse the dried lentils well and add to the pot, along with the fennel, the bouquet garni and the tomato concentrate. Season, bring to a gentle simmer and leave to cook for about 30 minutes. If after this time you feel it needs more liquid, add a little more stock. Bring to a boil and add the ditalini pasta. Cook until the pasta is al dente and serve, adding a good dribble of extra virgin olive oil.

3. Zuppa di fagioli

VO / VEO (omit the bacon and exchange chicken stock for vegetable stock or plain water)

(Bean soup)

Ingredients (serves 4)

300gr mix of dried borlotti and cannellini beans soaked overnight1 onion1 stick of celery, finely chopped1 carrot, diced1 tin of tomatoesA squirt of tomato concentrate50gr of cubed baconAbout 1 litre of chicken stock2 glasses of white wineA couple of leaves of sageSalt and pepper


Fry the cubes of bacon and then add the onions, the garlic, the carrot and the celery. When the onion is soft, add the white wine and evaporate the alcohol. Then add the beans, the tomatoes, the chicken stock and the sage. Season, bring to a gentle simmer and leave to cook without a lid for around 1.5 hours, or at least until the beans are well cooked and the liquid has thickened.

4. Fish soup, Aeolian style


For the fish stockFish bones and head of 4 red mullet1/2 stick of celery1 carrot1.5/2 litres of water3 glasses white wineA sprig of parsley1 bay leafa few black peppercorns1 clove of garlicsalt

For the soup200g of swordfish in small cubes (about 2cm wide)200g of grouper or other firm-fleshed fish in cubes (2cm wide)4 red mullet (depending on size about 300g in all)1 small squid chopped into rings100gr shelled prawns200gr clams200g mussels8 skinned tomatoes1 red onion3/4 cloves of garlic1 glass of white wine1 bay leaf1 finely chopped green chilli


Ask your fishmonger to fillet your red mullet and slice your squid into rings. He will probably be happy to cube your swordfish and grouper too! Remember to keep the bones and heads of the red mullet though, as you will need this for your fish stock. Make sure all the pieces of fish are the same size so that they will cook equally.

The fish stock

Nothing is easier than preparing a good fish stock. Simply put your fish bones and heads in a pan with about 1.5-2 litres of water and add the other ingredients. Bring to a light boil and leave, letting the mixture concentrate a little through evaporation. Leave for around 45 minutes in all. Scrape off any floating scum and strain.

The soup

First, add the well-washed clams and mussels to a large frying pan. Add a little white wine and cover. When they have opened, pour the liquor into the fish stock, shell the mussels and clams and set them aside. Throw the shells away.

Meanwhile, in a large pan, gently saute' a finely chopped red onion, the cloves of garlic (whole) and the finely chopped green chilli pepper until the onion is translucent. Add a glass of white wine, boil off the alcohol and add the fish stock. Stir in your tomatoes, skinned and chopped and leave to cook until they are nicely mashed. The sauce should be fairly liquidy, the consistency of a good broth. Taste and season at this point, then add the cubed fish, the red mullet and the rings of squid and leave to cook for about 5 mins in the gently bubbling tomato sauce. Then add the shelled prawns, leave for another couple of minutes, add the mussels and clams. Stir well, season to taste, adding a little chopped parsley and leave for another couple of minutes. Serve with crusty bread and a chilled glass of white wine.

5. Stuffato di pesce spada

(Tasty swordfish stew)

Ingredients (serves 4)

800 g swordfish in cubes1/2 an onion1 carrot60g of green pitted olives30 g of salted capers½ a stick of celery3 or 4 cloves of garlic wholeExtra virgin olive oil1 large glass of white wine150gr cherry tomatoesSalt and pepper


Slice the onion into thin strips, chop the celery finely and cube the carrots. Place in a flame-proof casserole dish along with the garlic cloves and gently sauté. Add the swordfish, lightly brown and then add the olives and capers and the cherry tomatoes halved. Add the wine, burning off the alcohol and then season. Add a little water, cover and place in the oven at a low temperature. Leave for around an hour stirring once or twice and checking on the juices (it shouldn't go dry).

Serve adding a little finely chopped fresh mint, a dribble of seriously good olive oil and a slice of crusty white bread.


Pasta dishes

Learn more about the pasta traditions of Sicily in our blog, or read on for some delicious local pasta recipes.

1. Busiate al Pesto Trapanese

Recipe from Giorgio Locatelli's Made in Sicily

V / VEO (exchange the egg pasta for pasta made without eggs)

Ingredients (serves 4)

1 quantity of pesto trapanese (see below)For the busiata pasta:175g semolina flour75g ‘00’ flour plus extra for dusting1 egg yolk1 teaspoon olive oil1 teaspoon sea salt

Put all the pasta ingredients plus 3oz. of water into a food mixer with a paddle and whiz until everything comes together in a dough, then leave it to rest for 20 minutes.

Have ready a baking sheet, dusted with flour. To form the busiate, roll the dough out into a rectangle about 2mm thick. Cut it lengthways into strips 1cm wide. Take each strip and coil it tightly along the length of a large skewer or clean knitting needle. Roll the skewer or needle gently over your work surface, so that you flatten the pasta slightly and help the coil of pasta to stick to itself, then push it gently off the skewer or needle and lay it on the floured baking sheet. Repeat with all the strips of pasta, laying them on the sheet in a single layer to dry for about an hour, until they hold their shape.

For the pesto trapanese:

Makes about 600g75g almonds500g plum tomatoes4 garlic clovessea salt and freshly ground black pepper40g fresh mint, shredded50ml olive oilHeat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4. Lay the almonds in a single layer on a baking tray and put into the oven for about 8 minutes. As long as they are in a single layer you don’t need to turn them. Keep an eye on them to make sure they don’t burn, and when they are golden, take them out andchop them.Put the tomatoes into a pan of boiling water for 10 seconds, then drain them under cold water and you should be able to peel them easily. Cut them in half, scoop out the seeds with a teaspoon and chop the flesh.Grind the toasted almonds with the garlic, using a pestle and mortar, until you have a paste. Add the tomatoes, salt, pepper and mint and pound again very briefly, just to crush the tomatoes a little. Then add the olive oil a little at a time, working it into the paste.

Putting everything together:Bring a large pan of water to the boil and add salt. Put in the busiate and cookfor about 5 minutes, or if using packet pasta, for 1 minute less than directed.Drain lightly, put back in the pan, add the pesto, and toss all together.

Serve and enjoy!

2. Spaghetti con pesto di capperi

(Spaghetti with caper pesto)

V / VE

Ingredients (serves 4)

500gr capers in salt2 cloves garlicA bunch of parsley5 leaves basil5 leaves mint50g pine kernelsExtra virgin olive oil (added little by little)600g spaghetti


Soak the capers over night or at least for a few hours. Then rinse and dry well. Add all the ingredients to a mortar and work them with a pestle until you obtain a creamy thick liquid. It is a good idea to add the olive oil little by little. Taste and season with salt if necessary. Cook your pasta in boiling salted water and when al dente drain, leaving a little water left over to thin the pesto a little if necessary. Add the pesto to the pasta and mix well. Then serve with a little parmesan cheese on top.

3. Spaghetti con ragù di triglie

(Spaghetti with red mullet sauce)

Ingredients (serves 4)

For the fish stockThe heads and bones of the red mullet1 litre water3 glasses of white wineA few slices fennel1 bay leafSalt and pepper

For the sauce10 red mullet400g spaghettiHalf a red onion, chopped finely2 small anchovy fillets (the ones under oil)50g cherry or datterini tomatoes, halved50g crushed, toasted almonds1/2 litre fish stock1 clove garlic, crushedA pinch of dried chilli flakesExtra virgin olive oilA handful of parsley, choppedSalt and pepper


Ask your fishmonger to fillet the red mullet and to put the heads and bones in a separate bag. To make your stock, simply put all the ingredients in a pan and bring to a gentle simmer. Leave for about an hour until the quantity has halved. Taste, season with salt and pepper if necessary and cook for a few minutes more. Then strain the stock making sure no bones get through.

Put half the stock in your pasta pan and top up with enough water in which to cook the spaghetti.

Now it's time to make the sauce! Put the chopped onion and the anchovy fillets to a large frying pan and gently fry until the onion is soft and the anchovies have melted. Add the garlic and the chilli and cook for another couple of minutes. Then add the tomatoes and a good ladle or two of your fish stock. At this point you can bring your pasta water to a boil and start cooking the spaghetti. When the tomatoes begin to break down, add the red mullet fillets and cook on a low flame for about 10 minutes. Break them up with a fork and mix well. You should now have a fairly thick sauce with chunks of red mullet. Taste and season with salt and pepper if necessary. Drain your pasta (when al dente), keeping a little bit of the water to one side. Add the spaghetti to the frying pan with the sauce, add the chopped parsley and toss well. If necessary add a little pasta water to loosen the sauce. Serve with a sprinkling of the toasted crushed almonds and a good white wine.

img: local areas/FOOD/APR18/1000/TTT_Sicily_Adesso_May17-4268.jpg

4. Pasta alla Norma

V / VEO (omit the ricotta cheese)

Ingredients (serves 4)

2 large aubergines3 tins chopped tomatoes1 onion, chopped finely1 clove garlic, chopped finelyA bunch of basilExtra virgin olive oilSalt and pepper80g grated ricotta salata (salted ricotta cheese)400g rigatoni or, if you can get them, fresh caserecce or maccheroncini


Cut the aubergines into small cubes and fry until golden brown in olive oil. Take out and place on kitchen paper to remove some of the oil. Sprinkle with a little salt.

Finely chop the onion and the garlic and gently sweat in some olive oil. Once the onion is soft, add the tinned tomatoes, tear in some of the basil and season to taste. Stir well and leave to cook slowly with a lid on for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

When the sauce is almost ready, cook your pasta al dente, drain and add to the tomato sauce. Mix well and place in a serving bowl. Top with the chunks of aubergine and a few torn basil leaves and take to the table with another bowl of grated salted ricotta cheese. Buon appetito!

5. Smashing pumpkin pasta

VO / VEO (exchange the chicken stock for vegetable stock or plain water)

Ingredients (serves 4)

400g pasta shells600g pumpkin, diced small1 small white onion, finely chopped1 clove of garlic1 large glass of chicken stockA couple of pinches of nutmeg1 small sprig of rosemaryExtra virgin olive oilSalt and white pepperFresh ricotta cheese


Put two or three tbsps of olive oil in a large pan and add the clove of garlic whole. Let this fry gently for a couple of minutes and then remove. Add the finely chopped onion and the diced pumpkin, the sprig of rosemary (to be removed later) and leave to fry gently. After a few minutes, when the onion is nice and soft, add the cup of chicken stock and leave to simmer and reduce. When the pumpkin becomes soft, gently squash a little with a fork. As the liquid reduces, taste and season with salt and white pepper. Take out the rosemary sprig, add the nutmeg and stir well. At the end, you should have a little liquid and soft, slightly squashed but not mashed pumpkin.

While the pasta shells are cooking, put your ricotta cheese in a bowl with a couple of tsps of warm water. Mix well until smooth and season if necessary. When the pasta shells are al dente, drain well and add to the pan with your pumpkin sauce, mixing well. Put into a serving dish, dribble with some excellent olive oil. When everyone has been served, invite your guests to add a dollop or two of ricotta cheese.

6. Ravioli con sugo di maiale alla Modicana

(Ravioli with a tomato and pork sauce - a speciality of Modica)

Ingredients (serves 4 people)

For the ravioli400gr plain flour4 eggs400gr fresh ricotta cheesea small bunch of marjoram, chopped<Salt and pepper

The pork sauce100gr pork chopped into small pieces200gr pork sausage (preferably with fennel seeds)300gr tomato extract1 medium onion1 glass red wineWaterExtra virgin olive oilSalt and pepper


The sauce: chop the onion and fry gently in a large pan, traditionally a terracotta casserole dish. When the onion is nice and soft, add the pork and the sausage. Brown these and then add the red wine. When the alcohol is burned off, add the tomato extract and a glass or two of warm water. Mix well, cover and leave to cook for about 3 hours on low heat. Check occasionally and add water if necessary, though your sauce should be quick thick.

After the sauce has been bubbling away for a couple of hours, you can make your ravioli (unless you've bought them!). First, make a well of flour and break the eggs into the middle. Season with a little salt and pepper and then start mixing until you have a homogeneous, pliable dough. Work it well, then wrap in clingfilm and place in the fridge for between half an hour and an hour. While this is in the fridge, mix the ricotta with a little chopped marjoram and, if you like, a little lemon zest. Taste, and season if you think necessary Take out the dough, lay on a floured surface and start rolling out in a rectangular shape, until it is a few mm thick. Then, on half of the dough, place spoonfuls of the ricotta mix, leaving a couple of centimetres between each. You should aim to have about 7-8 ravioli per person. Then pick up the other half of the pasta and gently drape on top of the part with the ricotta mix. Press around the mix, to get out any air and make sure the two layers of pasta connect well. When you are happy with this, take a pasta cutter and cut the pasta into individual ravioli. Dust with flour so they don't stick.

The ravioli making should ideally coincide with the end of the sauce's cooking (after 3 hours). To cook the ravioli, simply add to a pan of boiling salted water. When they float to the top (probably after a minute or two) they are ready. Carefully drain and plate up. Then add a piece of sausage and a spoonful or two of the thick tomato-pork sauce. Sprinkle with a little Parmesan or other tasty cheese and watch the dreamy faces of your guests!


7. Pasta con le sarde

V / VE

Ingredients (serves 4)

400g bucatini (or thick spaghetti if bucatini are not available)400g fresh sardines, cleaned and filleted2 handfuls fresh fennel fronds (wild fennel is better if you can find it)1 medium-sized onion, sliced finely2 coves garlic, chopped2 or 3 salted anchovies30g raisins30g pine kernels1 teaspoon of tomato concentrate1 sachet saffron100g bread crumbsExtra virgin olive oilSalt and pepper


First wash and then boil the fennel fronds until soft. When cooked, take out of the water (but keep the water for the pasta) and put aside for later. While the wild fennel is cooking, toast the pine kernels until they take on a little colour.

In another, larger frying pan, heat some olive oil and gently fry the onion until it is soft and translucent. Add the chopped garlic, the anchovies, the fennel fronds (chopped), the tomato concentrate, the raisins, the toasted pine kernels and a little salt and pepper to taste. Add a ladle of the water used to cook the wild fennel and mix well. Leave to cook, gently simmering, for about 10 minutes. Then add the sardine fillets and the saffron and cook for 5 minutes more, adding a little more water if necessary.

In the meantime, cook the bucatini in the fennel water, and toast the breadcrumbs with a drop of olive oil. When the pasta is ready, drain, add to the sauce and mix well. Serve with a sprinkling of toasted breadcrumbs on top.

8. Pasta with monkfish, mint and cherry tomatoes


400 gr fresh or dry pasta200 gr monkfish cut into small cubes10-15 fresh cherry tomatoes6 spoons chopped fresh mintAn extra bunch of fresh garden mint leavesExtra virgin olive oilSalt and pepper


Sautè the monkfish cubes in extra virgin olive oil with fresh mint leaves and ground pepper. When the fish cubes are golden brown, add the cherry tomatoes (previously halved) salt and keep tossing for another 3-4 minutes.

Cook the fresh pasta 'al dente', when ready add it to the monkfish sauce and sautè for 2 more minutes. Blend a bunch of fresh mint leaves with extra-virgin olive oil and pour it over the pasta. To finish the dish you can also sprinkle with crushed toasted almonds before serving.

This recipe is reproduced with kind permission of Katia Amore, expert Sicilian cook and owner of the loveSicily cookery school in Modica. If you're staying in a villa with The Thinking Traveller in the south-east, why not let us arrange a cookery lesson or two for you?

9. Penne con salsiccia, funghi e piselli

(Pasta with sausage, mushrooms and peas)

Ingredients (serves 4)

400g penne100g sausage8 mushrooms50g peashalf an onion2 cloves of garlica handful of chopped mint1 large glass of white wineSalt and pepperExtra virgin olive oil


Skin the sausages and cut the meat into 1-inch long pieces. Heat a little olive oil in a large frying pan and brown the sausages. Then add the chopped onion and garlic and let soften. Add the sliced mushrooms, mix well and put a lid on, turning the heat down. When the mushrooms have shrunk, take off the lid, season with salt and pepper, turn up the heat a little and add the white wine. Let the alcohol burn off and then turn down the heat and cover again. Heat some water in a large pan and, when boiling, salt, and add the penne. Halfway through the cooking spoon a little water to the sausages and mushrooms and add the peas. Mix well again and cover. When the pasta is cooked, drain and add it to the frying pan with the sausages, mushrooms and peas. Add the chopped mint and mix well. Toss a little and then serve.

10. Pasta con gamberi e pesto di pistacchi

Ingredients (serves 4)

40g shelled pistacchios70g fresh basil8 cherry tomatoes chopped in half2 cloves of garlicExtra virgin olive oil400g spaghetti or tagliatelle200g shelled prawns1 small glass of white wineSalt and pepper


First make the pesto: add the pistacchios, basil, 1 clove of garlic, a pinch of salt and pepper and a good slug of olive oil to a blender and mix until you have a densish liquid. Small chunks of pistachio are good. Taste and add more ingredients if necessary.

Heat some water for the pasta and when boiling, salt and add the pasta. Then put a drop of olive oil and a clove of garlic in a large frying pan. When hot, take out the garlic and add the prawns. Gently fry, adding a little salt and splash of white wine which should evaporate. Briefly add the halve cherry tomatoes but make sure you don't cook the prawns for more than 2/3 minutes.

When the pasta is al dente, drain but keep a cup of pasta water aside. Add the pasta to the prawns and mix well. Then place in a large serving bowl, and add the pesto. Mix well again and, if too dry, add a couple of spoonfulls of the pasta water. Serve and enjoy with a glass of good dry white.

11. Spaghetti con i piselli e mentuccia

(Spaghetti with peas and fresh mint)

V / VE

Ingredients (serves 4)

600g spaghetti, broken into 5cm-long pieces400g fresh or frozen peas2 cloves of garlic1 small onion1 glass of dry white wine1 small chilli pepper1 handful of fresh mint2 tsps white wine vinegar1 tsp sugarExtra virgin olive oilSalt and pepper


Finely chop the onion, the garlic and the chili pepper. Soften the onions in some olive oil and add the garlic and chili. Add the wine and let the alcohol evaporate. Then add the peas and mix well.

In the meantime, heat some water for the pasta. When boiling, add salt and break the spaghetti into it. Add some of the pasta water to the peas, just enough to cover them. Season with salt and pepper and leave them to cook slowly, making sure there is always a couple of cm of liquid.

Chop the mint finely and place in a glass. Add the vinegar and the sugar and mix well and then stir into the peas.

When the spaghetti is cooked, add to the peas and mix well, making sure there is still plenty of liquid. Serve with a little grated Parmesan cheese.

It's also very tasty served cold on a hot summer's day.

12. Tagliatelle ai funghi dei Nebrodi

V / VE

Ingredients (serves 4)

250g mushrooms (preferably Porcini)450g tagliatelle1 clove of garlicA handful of parsley1 glass of dry white wine1 small chilli pepper (optional)Extra virgin olive oilSalt and pepper


Clean the mushrooms well, discarding the earthy feet and chop or slice into smallish chunks. Chop the garlic and gently fry in some extra virgin olive oil making sure that it doesn’t burn. Add the mushrooms, gently season with salt and pepper, stir and cover for a couple of minutes so they begin to cook in their own juices. Then, add the glass of wine, burn off the alcohol, reducing the liquid so that it just covers the pan’s bottom. Add the chopped parsley, mix well and you’re ready to serve! A good bottle of Nero d’Avola will accompany the mushrooms nicely!

13. Pasta al forno

Ingredients (serves 8)

For the ragù

500g minced beef1 large finely chopped onion2 carrots cut into small cubes1 stick of celery chopped small6 cloves of garlic finely minced1 bay leafHalf a bottle of red wineHalf a litre of beef stock1 teaspoon of sugar50g peas1 small bottle of tomato passata1 tablespoon of tomato concentrateOlive oilSaltPepper

Other ingredients

1 large aubergine, sliced100g ham in slices800g anelletti (little pasta rings - if you can't find anelletti, use another small pasta shape such as small rigatoni)50g grated Parmesan cheese50g mozzarella in cubesBreadcrumbs


The ragù

Add some olive oil to a large pan and gently fry the onions, the celery and the carrots for a few minutes. Add the garlic, and once the onion is soft and translucent, turn up the heat and add the beef mince. Stir well, ensuring that that all the mince is sealed and as granular as possible. Add the bay leaf, the sugar and the red wine. Burn off the alcohol and reduce the red wine for a few minutes, then add the tomato concentrate and the hot beef stock. Stir in the tomato passata, season with salt and pepper, and partially cover with a lid. Cook on a low flame, gently bubbling away, for three or four hours (the longer the better). Towards the end, when the ragù has thickened into quite a dense sauce, add the peas and the cheeses and stir in. Check for seasoning and take off the heat.

While the ragù is gently bubbling away

Cut your aubergine into 1cm-thick slices and fry in olive oil until nicely bronzed. After you’ve done that, take a baking tray and grease thoroughly with some butter or olive oil. Sprinkle liberally with breadcrumbs so that the bottom and the sides are nicely coated.

When the ragù is nearly ready, fill a large pan with water and bring to a boil. Salt, add the pasta, and cook for about half the cooking time specified on the packet (it will finish cooking in the oven). Strain the pasta well and add to the ragù (or vice versa) depending on which pan is larger. Mix well and prepare to build your pasta al forno. Turn your oven on to about 240°C.

Building your pasta al forno

Place about a third of the ragù and pasta mix into your baking tray. Top with slices of ham and add another third of the ragù and pasta. Add a layer of fried aubergine and top with the remaining ragù and pasta. Sprinkle on a layer of breadcrumbs and place in the oven for about 20-25 minutes, until the breadcrumbs on top are nicely toasted and golden brown.


When ready, leave your pasta al forno to settle for about 15 minutes, and then serve. If you have any left over, try it in a sandwich the next day!


Main courses: Meat

1. Salsiccia al vino

(Sausage with wine - a recipe from Planeta's "Sicilia: Cooking at Casa Planeta", written by Elisia Menduni, published by Electa Mondadori, English version available to purchase on Amazon and in specialist bookshops).

Ingredients (serves 6)

1kg homemade or good quality pork sausage60g grapes20g pine nuts1 white onion, chopped4 glasses Etna red wine DOC1 tbsp honey1 red pepper, slicedExtra virgin olive oilSalt to taste


In a large saucepan or frying pan, brown the onion in a tablespoon of oil for 2 minutes. Pour in the wine and let it bubble up until the alcohol evaporates. Add the sliced red pepper. Rinse the grapes. If you have the patience to, split each grape in half and remove the seeds. Put the grapes, salt, pine nuts and honey in the pan, as well as all the wine. Cook for 10 minutes. In a separate pan, brown the sausage over high heat to get rid of the fat. When the sausage is golden brown, transfer to the pan with the grape sauce and cook for a further 10 minutes.

Wine pairing: Etna Rosso DOC or Eruzione 1614 Nerello Mascalese DOC Sicilia

2. Carne alla Pizzaiola

(Tender slices of roasted meat topped with tomato sauce, onions and cheese)

Ingredients (serves 4)

4 slices of beef1 onion sliced finely100g diced cacciocavallo, mozzarella, and/or Parmesan cheese1 bottle of tomato passata, though home-made tomato sauce is better!Extra virgin olive oilSalt and pepperOlive oil


Coat the slices of beef with a little olive oil and place in a lightly oiled baking tray. Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle with the finely chopped onion and cover with the tomato passata. Then on top of this add the pieces of diced cheese. Put in a pre-heated oven for about 20-30 minutes until the cheese had begun to melt and the meat is thoroughly cooked.

Serve with crusty white bread and a bottle of full-bodied red wine.

3. Gatto' di patate con ragu

(Bolognese sauce in a mashed potato casing)

Ingredients (serves 4)

600g potatoes300g mincemeat1 medium onion4 cloves of garlic1/2 stick of celery2 carrots100g frozen peas1 large glass of red wine1/2 bottle of tomato passataSalt and pepperMilkButterBreadcrumbsParsley


Start by making the bolognese sauce: chop the onion, garlic, celery and dice the carrots and saute all together in a little olive oil. When soft, add the mincemeat mix in well, making sure it seals all over and becomes as granular as possible. When browned add the wine, let the alcohol evaporate and the leave with a lid on to cook slowly in the juices. After half an hour or so add the tomato, mix well and season to taste with salt and pepper. Leave to cook gently for a couple of hours. The peas can go in at the last minute.

In the meantime boil the potatoes in salted water until cooked. Then drain, add pepper, butter, chopped parsley and a drop of milk - be careful here - you do not want them to be creamy. 

Butter the sides and bottom of a baking tray and scatter with breadcrumbs. Then add a layer of mashed potato, which should also cover the sides. Then add the bolognese sauce, keeping back a little for later. Finally, put a top layer of potato over the sauce and seal. Add a few knobs of butter, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs and place in a hot oven until the top is golden brown and crispy.

When ready, sprinkle with a little parsley and serve with a little of the remaining bolognese sauce and a good glass of red wine. Buon appettito!

4. Petti d'anatra all'arancio Siciliano

(Duck served in a Sicilian orange sauce)

Ingredients (serves 4)

2 duck breasts3 Sicilian oranges1 Sicilian lemonA tablespoon of red wine vinegarA tablespoon of sugar1 glass of beef stock2 tablespoons of orange curacaosalt and pepperolive oil


Place the duck breast fat-side down in a frying pan with a little olive oil and leave until all the fat has melted. Drain most of the melted fat off and turn the duck breasts, seasoning with a little salt and pepper. After about 5 minutes, take off the heat and put aside in a warm place.

In the meantime, peel the oranges and the lemon, being careful to remove as much of the pith as possible both from the peel and from the fruit inside. Squeeze the juice and cut the peel into thin julienne strips. Place the peel in boiling water and leave for a few minutes before taking out and rinsing in cold water.

To make the sauce, add a tablespoon of sugar to a pan with a tablespoon of red wine vinegar. Place on the heat and make a light, liquidy caramel (be careful not to let it caramelise too much). Add the glass of beef stock and the juice and when the mixture has warmed up add the orange and lemon peel and the orange curacao. Mix well, and leave to cook for a few minutes, seasoning if necessary. Slice the duck into thin strips and serve with a little sauce on top. The duck goes very well with green beans and roast potatoes.

This recipe was kindly passed on to us by the owners of La Favorita, a serviced villa with a resident cook.

5. Pagneddu a'missinisa - Messina-style Lamb

Ingredients (serves 4)

8-12 lamb chopshalf a bottle of aromatic red wine4 cloves of garlic1 oniona handful of stoned olivesa sprig of rosemarya scattering of capers2 carrotssalt and pepper


Rub the lamb chops in a little olive oil and put to marinate for a few hours in some red wine, garlic and a sprig of rosemary. Then, place the whole lot in an oven dish along with the onion, the olives, the capers and the carrots. place in a hot oven for around 15 minutes, then turn down the heat, salt and pepper to taste and cover and leave to cook gently for an hour an a half, checking occasionally to check the liquid doesn't dry out.

When you take it out of the oven the wine should have reduced and thickened and the lamb should be of a butter-like tenderness! Serve with new potatoes and minted spring peas...!

6. Pollo al Marsala

(Chicken in a Marsala wine sauce)

Ingredients (serves 4)

500gr cubed chicken breasts1 smallish onion 3 cloves of garlic2 good-sized glasses of dry Marsala wine1/2 bottle of tomato saucea handful of fresh parsley olive oilsalt and pepperMethod Gently sweat the finely chopped onion and garlic in some olive oil and, when soft, add the chicken, sealing it on all sides. Turn up the heat a little and add the Marsala, making sure you boil off the alcohol. After a couple of minutes turn down the heat and cover. Let it gently simmer for 10-15 minutes and then stir in the tomato sauce. Season and leave for another 5-10 minutes. Add the chopped parsley at the end and serve with new potatoes.

7. Farsumagru

(Sicilian meat roll)

Ingredients (serves 4)

1 thinly cut but large piece of veal or beef2 eggs4 slices of bacon4 thin slices of tasty cheese1 small onion1 carrot1 stick of celerya large glass of red wineolive oilsalt and pepper


Layout the meat and tenderise to make thin. Prepare a thin omelete and lay on top of the meat. Add the slices of bacon and cheese and a little finely chopped onion. Role up, tie with string and place in a large pan with a little hot olive oil. Brown gently and add the finely chopped carrot and celery, a glass of red wine and a little vegetable stock. Salt and pepper to taste, put a lid on and simmer at a low flame for around 45 minutes. Take out the meat carefully and reduce the remaining sauce to make a thick vegetable gravy. Take the farsumagru to the table whole and slice in front of your guests. Serve with a little sauce and a full-bodied red wine.

8. Polpette al Sugo

(Meatballs in tomato sauce)

Ingredients (serves 4)

300gr top quality mincemeat100gr strong grated cheese400gr tomatoes50gr breadcrumbs1 onion4 cloves of garlicparsleyoregano60gr ham2 eggssalt and pepper


Mix the mincemeat with the cheese, the breadcrumbs. Finely chop the parsley, the onion, the garlic and the ham and add to the meat. Season with salt and pepper and then add the two well-beaten eggs. Mix all together with your hands and divide the mixture into balls. Pass each in a little flour and fry in hot olive oil.Meanwhile, in another pan gently fry some finely chopped onion and garlic. Chop the tomatoes and add along with some salt, pepper and oregano. Cover and leave to cook vigorously until the tomatoes go down and create a sauce. Then add the meatballs, cover and cook for a further 10-15 minutes on low heat. Serve with a fruity red wine and some crusty white bread.

9. Scaloppine al Marsala

(Veal escalopes in Marsala wine)

Ingredients (serves 4)

500gr thin slices of veal or top quality beef50gr of butterFlourDry Marsala wineSalt and pepper


Tenderise the slices of veal and brush with the flour. Melt the butter in a frying pan and cook slowly, adding a little salt and pepper. When cooked, remove the meat and leave in a hot place. Add a glass of Marsala to the frying pan and stir until the sauce is a liquid cream. Pour the sauce on the veal and serve with new potatoes and vegetables of the season.

10. Involtini alla Palermitana

(Palermitan meat rolls)

Ingredients (serves 4)

16 thin slices of veal (about 10cm x 5cm)1 onion olive oil50g breadcrumbs50g grated caciocavallo cheese or other strong cheese20g very small cubes of caciocavallo or other strong cheese50g finely chopped hamsalt & pepperbay leaves50g raisins and pine kernels


1)Preheat the oven to 200° C2)Place some olive oil in a frying pan and when hot gently fry the finely chopped onion. When the onions are soft, add the breadcrumbs, the pine kernels, the raisins, the ham, the grated cheese, the small cubes of cheese salt and pepper. Stir well until you have a consistent well amalgamated mix.3) Spread the slices of veal on a flat surface and add a bit of the filling on each before rolling them up. Place them on 4 skewers (4 involtini per skewer), with bay leaves and slices of onion dividing each one.4) Put the skewers in an oiled baking tray and place in the oven.5) Cook at 200 °C for 15-20 minutes and turn twice.6)Serve with a squirt of lemon juice.

img: local areas/FOOD/1000/TTT_Sicily_Villa_Farli_SEP18_10crop.jpg

Main courses: Vegetarian

1. Cannazzo

(Baked Mediterranean vegetables)

VO / VEO (omit the anchovy fillets)

Ingredients (serves 4)

2 large aubergines4 courgettes2 peppers - 1 yellow, 1 red1 onion2 cloves of garlic2 large potatoes4 anchovy filletsA handful of chopped parsleySalt and pepperExtra virgin olive oil


Cube all the vegetables, roughly chop the onion and keep the garlic whole in their jackets. Add all to an large oven dish along with the anchovy fillets. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and a good splash of olive oil and mix until all the vegetables are coated with olive oil. Place in a medium oven and cook for between 45 minutes and an hour, checking after about half an hour to check progress. Adjust the heat and cover with tin foil if necessary, as this is essentially a slow cooked dish. When all the vegetables are cooked, sprinkle with parsley, mix well and serve as a side dish or as a vegetarian main.

2. Vrocculi affucati

(Florets of purple or green cauliflower "drowned" in wine, cheese, anchovies and onion)

VO (omit the anchovy fillets)

Ingredients (serves 4)

800g cauliflower cut into small florets100g Pecorino or other flavoursome cheese in small cubes80g anchovies, chopped2 glasses of red wine1 spring onion, finely choppedSalt and pepperExtra virgin olive oil


This is a layered dish: start with a good glug of olive oil on the bottom of a heavy, high pan. Sprinkle some onion, a little of the anchovies and a layer of broccoli. Season, add some chunks of cheese, some more anchovy and onion and repeat two or three times until all the broccoli has been used. Take a plate and push down on the layers, squashing and compacting them. Then add the red wine, another dash of olive oil and a topping of cheese if left over. Cover and cook on a very low heat until the broccoli is cooked. Serve as a side dish or as a vegetarian main.

3. Parmigiana di melanzana

(Fried aubergines in tomato sauce)

V / VEO (omit the cheese)

Ingredients (serves 6)

1/2 litre of tomato sauce - home-made is better4 large aubergines (eggplants)saltextra virgin olive oil150 g grated Parmesan cheeseseveral leaves of fresh basil


Cut the aubergines into 1cm-thick slices and rub a small amount of salt into each slice.Fry the slices in olive oil until brown and tender.Place the aubergines in layers in a serving dish adding the tomato sauce, the grated parmesan cheese and basil leaves on top of each layer.

Serve as a cool antipasto with crusty white bread in the summer or bake (with mozzarella slices on top) in the oven for a hearty winter main course.

4. Mini melanzane imbottite in sugo piccante

(Stuffed mini aubergines in a spicy tomato sauce)

Ingredients (serves 4)

8 tennis-ball-sized aubergines100g Parmesan cheese chopped into matchsticks100g Parma ham chopped into small piecesA bunch of fresh mint4 anchovy fillets halved1 clove of garlic1 small glass of white wine1/2 an onion chopped1 bottle of tomato passata1/2 chilli chopped finelySalt and pepperOlive oil


First, get your tomato sauce on the go: chop the onion finely and gently sautee in some olive oil with the garlic (whole) and the chilli pepper. When soft and translucent, add the white wine, burn off the alcohol and reduce a little. Then add the tomatoes, season with salt and pepper and leave on a low flame with the lid on.

Now start preparing the aubergines. after washing, top and bottom them and then make a deep incision in the centre. Stuff each incision with a couple of bits of ham, half an anchovy fillet, a piece or two of Parmesan and a little mint. When ready, place the aubergines carefully at the centre of the tomato sauce, season the top of each one and replace the lid. Leave to cook for around 30 minutes, stirring the tomato sauce occasionally. Check with a toothpick that the aubergines are soft inside and get ready to serve!

Buon appetito!

5. Peperoni in agrodolce in crosta

(Sweet and sour peppers on a crusty pastry base)

V / VEO (use vegan pastry)

Ingredients (serves 4)

3 largish peppers (red and green)1 chilli pepper1 tablespoon of pine kernelsFresh mint1 tablespoon of honey1 tablespoon of apple or white wine vinegarA short-crust pastry base


Make and bake your pastry base and leave to cool. In the meantime, chop and deseed your peppers and place in a frying pan with a dribble of oil, a pinch of salt and a finely chopped chilli pepper. Cook very slowly on a low flame until really soft (make sure the peppers do not fry). Add a spoonful of honey and a spoonful of vinegar and mix carefully. Taste to check the balance of sweet and sour and change modify depending on your tastes. Add the pine kernels and the chopped mint and, when cool, place on the pastry base. Leave to cool and serve with a dribble of extra virgin olive oil and white crusty bread.

This recipe was kindly given to us by the owners of Don Arcangelo all'Olmo

6. Involtini di Melanzane

(Aubergine stuffed rolls)

Ingredients (serves 4)

3 large aubergines100gr ham 50gr breadcrumbs50gr grated mature cheese 2 /3 cloves of garlica handful of fresh basil2 tins of tomatoeshalf a small onionolive oilsalt and pepper


Cut the aubergines lengthwise into 1cm-thick slices and brush with salt to extract any liquid. Leave for about 30/40 minutes and then rinse and dry. Then, heat some extra virgin olive oil in a large frying pan with a little salt and fry the aubergine slices on both sides until golden brown. Place on kitchen paper to remove excess oil and leave to cool.

While the aubergine slices are cooling, it is time to prepare the filling. Finely chop the ham and garlic, add the breadcrumbs and grate the cheese into the mix. Add most of your basil and a drop of olive oil to make the mixture ever so slightly moist. Season with salt and pepper and mix well. Then place a little of the filling on each slice of aubergine and roll up, fastening each involtino with a toothpick.

To prepare the tomato sauce, finely chop your onion and fry it gently in a little olive oil. Add your tinned tomatoes, and cook down with a little salt and pepper. Add a little basil towards the end.

When the sauce is ready (about 20 minutes should do), place the aubergine rolls in a greased oven-proof dish and cover with most of the tomato sauce. Place in a hot oven for around 15-20 minutes.

Add a little more of the tomato sauce and serve with crusty white bread and a chilled bottle of white wine. Alternatively, in the summer, you can let the whole thing cool down and serve at room temperature or slightly cold a little later.


Main courses: Fish

1. Tonno in agrodolce con piselli e mentuccia

(Tuna with sweet and sour onions, peas and mint)

Ingredients (serves 4)

4 tuna steaks (about 150gr each)1 large red onion chopped into fine strands300gr fresh or frozen peas5 tablespoons red wine vinegar1 tablespoon sugar100ml waterSea saltBlack pepperExtra virgin olive oilA small bunch of fresh mint, chopped finely


Season the tuna steaks with salt and pepper and quickly sear them in a large frying pan with a little extra virgin olive oil. When seared on all sides and pink in the middle, take out and leave to rest in a warm place. Add a little more olive oil to the pan if necessary and gently cook the onion until translucent. In the meantime, mix the red wine vinegar with the sugar and half of the water, making sure that the sugar has dissolved. Then add the mixture to the onions and leave to cook gently for a few minutes until the onions start to caramelize. Add the rest of the water, the peas and the chopped mint and cover until the peas are just about cooked. Then return the tuna steaks to the pan, warm through for a couple of minutes and serve.

2. Calamari fritti

(Fried squid rings)

Ingredients (serves 4)

600g fresh squid, cleaned and chopped by your fishmonger8 tbsp durum wheat flour1 tsp saltVegetable oil for frying2 lemons


There's no need to make a batter in this light Sicilian version of calamari fritti! Simply sieve the flour, add some salt and mix. Then toss the squid rings and tentacles in the flour. Heat up the oil in a deep saucepan (fill about a third of the pan) and when really hot, add your squid a little at a time, shaking off any excess flour first. When golden brown, take out the squid with a spoon with holes in (draining any excess oil) and place on some kitchen towel. Sprinkle immediately with sea salt and serve while hot with a good squeeze of lemon.

3. Ruota di Pesce Spada

(Wheel of swordfish)

Ingredients (serves 4)

1 wheel of swordfish about 5-6cm high (about 600-700gr)2 tbsp capers10 cherry tomatoes1 bunch of fresh mint½ an onion finely choppedExtra virgin olive oil1 lemonSalt and pepper


Take a large piece of aluminium foil (at least twice as big as the wheel of swordfish) and place half of it in the bottom of a large baking tray. Dribble with a little olive oil, and add a little salt and pepper. Put the wheel of swordfish on top and then oil and season the upper side. Sprinkle with capers, the cherry tomatoes halved, the finely chopped onion and add a squeeze of lemon. Cover the top with the remaining part of the sheet of foil and close the sides, crimping so that the swordfish is sealed inside. Then place in a medium-hot oven for about 40-45 minutes. After that time, take out and gently check that it is cooked all the way through. If it isn’t, reseal the foil package and put back in the oven for 5 minutes.

4. Pesce Spada alla Messinese

(Swordfish Messina style)

Ingredients (serves 4)

600gr swordfish cut into palm-sized slices2 clove of garlic, chopped2 spring onions, chopped20 capers (if salted, rinse well first)10 black olives, chopped4 anchovy fillets1 glass of white wine½ bottle of tomato passata1 can of chopped tomatoExtra virgin olive oilSalt and pepperA pinch of crushed dried chilli pepperParsley, chopped


Gently seal the swordfish slices in some olive oil and then remove and set aside. Add the spring onions, garlic, capers, olives, chilli pepper and anchovy fillets and gently fry until the anchovies melt into the oil and the onion is translucent. Put the slices of swordfish back and then add the white wine. Burn off the alcohol and then add the tomatoes. Mix well, cover and leave to cook for 30 minutes on a very low flame. When ready to serve, sprinkle with parsley. It is excellent with a piece of crusty white bread and a glass of a characterful white wine.

5. Sarde a Beccafico

Giorgio Locatelli's version of a classic Sicilian sardine dish

Ingredients (serves 4)

8-12 sardines depending on their size100g toasted breadcrumbs1 tbsp olive oil1 orange1 lemon4 salted anchovies10g sugar50g capers (preferably from Pantelleria)50g black olives40g sultanas40g pine kernels20 toasted almonds5g parsley


Scale, gut, and chop the heads of the sardines. Wash them well and open like a book.

For the fillingToast the breadcrumbs, adding the peel and juice of the lemon and the orange. Melt the anchovies in a little olive oil, finely chop the olives, capers, pine kernels and the sultanas, toast and chop the almonds and blend all together in a mixer.  Then add the parsley. When the mixture is homogeneous, spread it on to the sardines using your finger. Roll up the sardine so that the tail remains on the top.

Place the rolled sardines next to each other in a baking tray with bay leaves between them. Sprinkle some breadcrumbs (not toasted) on top and put in the oven for around 10 minutes, depending on the size of the sardines.

Text © Giorgio Locatelli

This recipe is reproduced with the kind permission of Giorgio Locatelli, one of the best Italian chefs working in the UK. At Locanda Locatelli, Giorgio serves traditional Italian dishes, emphasising the quality and freshness of the produce, as well as adding his own personal creative touch. That, together with friendly service and a relaxed atmosphere, has made Locanda Locatelli one of the most sought-after restaurants in London. It won a Michelin star in 2003 (Giorgio’s second), which was been retained ever since. His frequent television appearances, including two popular series, ‘Pure Italian’ and BBC2’s ‘Tony and Giorgio’, have made him a household name. His ode to Italian food, 'Made in Italy', is an encyclopaedic guide to his country's cuisine in all its rich diversity. He has frequently holidayed in Sicily and has stayed in a number of villas with The Thinking Traveller in Sicily.

6. Stuffed calamari Sicilian style

Ingredients (serves 4)

4 large squid (about 400-500g)100g of breadcrumbs1 heaped tablespoon of raisinsI heaped tablespoon of pine kernels1 tablespoon of grated Parmesan cheese6 anchovy fillets1 small chilli pepper (optional)Extra virgin olive oil1 splash of white wineParsleySalt and pepper


First thing is to ask your fishmonger to prepare and clean the squid for you. After his knife has done its work, you should have four squid bodies and nice collection of tentacles. Once at home, chop the tentacles, and quickly sauté in hot oil until they curl up. Do not cook too long as squid tends to get very chewy if overcooked. When ready, place in a bowl with your filling ingredients: the breadcrumbs, the raisins, the pine kernels, the grated Parmesan cheese, the chopped anchovy fillets, chilli pepper (optional) and parsley. Salt and pepper to taste and mix really well. Then spoon the mixture into your four squid bodies, leaving a little room at the entrance. Seal the openings with a toothpick and place on a lightly oiled baking tray. Pour over a little more olive oil and a splash of white wine and place in a pre-heated oven (350). Cook for about 10-12 minutes and serve.

7. Merluzzo Mediterranea alla Siciliana

(Mediterranean cod Sicilian style)

Ingredients (serves 4)

4 cod fillets2-3 anchovy filletsa teaspoon of salted capersthe juice of 1 lemonolive oilsalt and pepperparsley


Rub the cod fillets with olive oil, a little lemon juice, freshly crushed sea salt and black pepper. Leave them to marinate for half an hour. In the meantime, melt 2 or 3 anchovy fillets in a little olive oil at low heat. Place the cod fillets in a baking tray with a little olive oil and add the anchovies and oil along with a few finely chopped capers (cleansed of salt), a sprinkling of parsley and a little more lemon juice. Cover and place in the oven at medium heat. Leave for half an hour and then check progress. If not ready, leave for another 15 minutes and check again.

8. Acciughe Farcite al Forno

An Antonio Carluccio recipe

from "Complete Italian Food" by Antonio Carluccio Reproduced with kind permission of the author and his publisher, Quadrille.

(Stuffed baked anchovies)

Nothing can surpass freshly caught anchovies, which are good eaten raw with just a few drops of lemon juice.  This typical Sicilian recipe, with its raisins and pine nuts, has echoes of its Arabic origin.

Ingredients (serves 4)

24 very fresh anchovies, boned and opened butterfly fashion6 tbsp olive oil2 garlic cloves, very finely chopped4 tbsp finely chopped parsley1 tbsp finely chopped fresh basil leaves5 sage leaves, finely chopped1 small chilli, very finely chopped25g (3/4 oz) pine nuts30g (1 oz) raisinsJuice of 1 lemon30g (1 oz) dry breadcrumbsSalt and pepper


Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/gas 7 and grease a baking sheet with some of the olive oil.

In a bowl, mix the garlic, herbs, chilli, pine nuts and raisins with salt and pepper to taste.  Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and a few drops of lemon juice and mix well.

Lay 12 of the anchovies skin side down next to each other on the prepared baking sheet.  Distribute the mixture on top of them, sprinkle with a few drops of lemon juice and sandwich with the remaining anchovies skin side up.  Sprinkle with the breadcrumbs and drizzle over the remaining olive oil.  Bake for 10-12 minutes, until just starting to brown.  Serve hot, sprinkled with the remaining lemon juice, or cold arranged on lemon slices.

From "Complete Italian Food" by Antonio Carluccio

Reproduced with kind permission of the author and his publisher, Quadrille.

9. Polpette di Tonno al Cartoccio

(Aromatic, juicy tuna balls)

Ingredients (serves 4)

500gr fresh tunafresh mint50gr breadcrumbs1 egga dash of balsamic vinegarsalt and pepper


Wash the tuna under running water to eliminate some of the excess juice. Dry thoroughly and then chop into as small pieces as possible. Put into a bowl and add a generous amount of fresh chopped mint, the breadcrumbs, about half a beaten egg, a dash of balsamic vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Mix well and then, when you have a firm slightly sticky consistency (add more breadcrumbs if it is too liquid) roll the mixture into balls (a little larger than golfballs). Put the polpette on a sheet of tin foil, dribble with olive oil and then wrap up. Place on a baking tray and cook in a pre-heated oven at about 400°F (200°C) for about 20-30 minutes. Serve with fresh minted peas and roast potatoes.

10. Polpette di Sarde

(Sardine balls in fresh tomato sauce)

Ingredients (serves 4)

600g fresh sardinesBreadcrumbs2 eggsA handful of pine kernelsA handful of sultanasA little grated strong cheeseParsleyOlive oilSalt and pepper1-litre freshly-made tomato sauce


Wash and descale the sardines and then chop as small as possible. Add the breadcrumbs, sultanas, pine kernels, a drop of olive oil and parsley and then season. Mix together thoroughly and add the two beaten eggs. Mix again until all the egg has been absorbed and then divide the mixture into snooker-ball sized polpette of good firm consistency.

Add the sardine balls to a hot tomato sauce and cook on a low flame for about 30 minutes

Marinated tuna

Ingredients (serves 4)

600-700g of tuna fish cut into small cubesextra virgin olive oil1 lemon1 clove of garlic1 glass of white wine1 tablespoon of vinegarfresh mintsalt and pepper


Cut the tuna into small cubes and place in a closeable container. Add the juice of one lemon, a thinly cut clove of garlic, 1 glass of white wine, a tablespoon of vinegar, finely chopped fresh mint and a dash of salt and pepper. Mix together well, cover, and place in the fridge for a few hours.

Heat a large frying pan with a little salt on a high flame and then add the tuna along with its marinade. Stir around constantly for a few minutes until brown and then serve with minted new potatoes. Chilled white wine obligatory!  

11. Involtini di Pesce Spada

(Swordfish rolls)

Ingredients (serves 4)

12 slices of swordfish (600-700g)Extra virgin olive oilBreadcrumbs100g grated mature cheese (pecorino if possible)20g pine kernels20g raisinsLemon juiceParsley1/2 a small chilli pepper choppedSalt and pepper3-4 cloves of garlic1 small onion12 bay leaves4 skewer sticks


The filling: finely chop the onion and garlic and gently fry in olive oil until soft. Add salt and pepper, the pine kernels, the raisins, the finely chopped parsley, the cheese and the chilli pepper and mix well until it is fairly solid (though not too dry).

The swordfish: using a tenderiser, flatten the swordfish fillets and then add a spoonful of the filling and roll-up. Once ready roll in olive oil and bread crumbs and place 3 rolls onto each skewer, divided by a slice of onion and a bay leaf.



1. Sicilian Cassata

(pictured above)

Ingredients (serves 6 to 8)

1 sponge cake1 kg / 2 lb. 2 oz. sheep’s milk ricotta200 g / 7 oz. almond flour200 g / 7 oz. confectioners’ sugar + extra for the icing300 g / 11 oz. granulated sugar70 g / 2 1/2 oz. semisweet chocolate150 g / 5 1/2 oz. pistachios1 vanilla podwhole candied fruits for the garnishgreen food colouringvegetable oil to grease the cake tin

Difficulty 4/5 | Preparation time 1 hour  (plus 2 hours for the cake to rest in the refrigerator)

For the marzipan, combine the almond flour and confectioners’ sugar in a bowl, add the pistachio flour (made by finely grinding and then sifting the pistachios), and a few drops of the food colouring to obtain a mint-green colour.

Knead the dough until the marzipan is soft and compact. Use a rolling pin to roll out the marzipan dough, then cut it into wide strips long enough to line the sides of a cake tin. Line the sides of the greased cake tin with the marzipan strips. Cut the sponge cake into thin strips and use them to line the bottom of the pan. 

To make the cream filling, strain the ricotta, then blend in the sugar and the vanilla. Chop the semisweet chocolate into pieces the size of coffee beans, and add to the ricotta cream. Spread the ricotta cream evenly on top of the cake, leaving enough room for another thin layer of cake on top.

Refrigerate the cassata for a few hours. Turn the cake upside down onto a serving plate, and top with icing made from confectioners’ sugar and a small amount of water. Let the icing dry and then garnish with candied fruits.

Enjoy the cassata with a glass of Planeta's Passito di Noto DOC

2. Parfait alle mandorle


5 eggs150 gr sugar½ litre crème fraîche100 gr almonds2 tbsp of the Italian liquor “Amaretto di Saronno” (or a similar one with almond flavour)

Toast and caramelize the almonds (20 min in the oven at 200 degrees, then 5 min in a frying pan with a spoon of sugar), then crush them into small bits.

Beat the egg whites and mix the yolk with the sugar.

Add the whipped crème fraîche and then slowly the whipped egg whites. Stir gently and add the liquor.

Pour half of the mixture into a wet silicon dish, cover with the caramelised almonds and finally pour over the remaining half of the mixture.

Leave in the freezer for at least 3 hrs

Serve with a warm coulis of mandarin sauce ( a quick version of which can be obtained diluting a good mandarin marmalade with a bit of liquor).

3. Sorbetto di fragole

(Strawberry sorbet)

Ingredients (serves 8)

1kg of strawberries400gr of sugarThe juice of 1.5 lemonsA drop or two of rum (optional!)


Blend the strawberries, add the sugar and lemon juice and mix well. Taste and adjust the flavour if necessary and pour into an ice-cream maker. If you don't have one, place in freezer and stir every 10-15 minutes.

4. Sicilian Cassata

This recipe is reproduced with the kind permission of Ben Buning, English pâtissier, baker and cook who now lives in Palermo. As well as managing Il Borghetto he cooks for guests on request, and the results, as we know from pleasurable experience, are exceptional!


Sponge cake:One 10-inch round cake tinTwo eggs120gr sugar120gr butter120gr flourTwo tsp baking powderTwo tbsp milk

Filling and decoration:250gr fresh ricotta cheese400gr icing sugar200gr almond paste100gr dark chocolate chipsGreen food colouringCandied fruitOne tsp glucose syrup


Step 1: the spongeBeat the sugar and butter in a bowl until soft and creamy . Mix in the eggs and milk followed by the flour and baking powder and mix well. Line the cake tin with greaseproof paper, add the mixture and bake at 170° C for around 25/35 mins. When ready, remove from tin and leave to cool.

Step 2: preparing the setting dishTake a 9-inch curved dish (soup bowl) and line with cling film making sure to leave some cling film overhanging.

Step 3: colour the almond paste greenRoll out into a 10-inch circle and place it in the setting dish.Cut the sponge cake in half and lay one-half on top of the Almond paste.

Step 4: the fillingPlace the Ricotta cheese and 250gr of icing sugar in a bowl and beat until creamy. Mix in the chocolate chips and pour the mixture into the setting dish. Place the remaining piece of sponge cake on top of the mixture to form a lid. Pull the overhanging pieces of cling film towards the centre completely covering the sponge and place in the fridge for at least 12 hours.

Step 5: the icingAdd one tsp of liquid glucose to the remaining 150gr of icing sugar and very carefully, while mixing, add a few drops of water at a time until you achieve a syrupy consistency.

Step 6: Remove the cake from the fridgeUndo the cling film parcel and place a cake board on top. Turn over and remove the bowl and cling film. Pour the icing onto the Almond paste and using a pallet knife spread the icing until the cake is completely covered. Decorate with candied fruit and serve.

5. Torta al pistacchio

(Pistachio tart)

Ingredients (serves 6+)

250g butter6 eggs350g crushed best quality pistachio nuts250g sugartwo sachets of vanilla100g chopped toasted almonds


Line the bottom of a flan/pie dish with short-crust pastry. In a large bowl slightly melt the butter and work in the eggs, the pistachios, the sugar and the two sachets of vanilla. Mix well and then pour onto the pastry. Cover with a light strip of chopped toasted almonds and place in the oven, pre-heated to 170°, for 45 minutes.

These recipef was kindly given to us by the owners of Don Arcangelo all'Olmo after a series of unforgettable dinners during our team meeting there in Nov-Dec 2007.


6. Rocca delle Tre Contrade's cannoli recipe

Reproduced with the kind permission of Rocca delle Tre Contrade.

Cannoli (singular: cannolo) are the quintessential Sicilian sweet, with all the best traditional ingredients the region can offer and a perfect mix of sweet, savoury, crispy and creamy elements. This recipe is for the purest variation without too many embellishments, but chopped pistachios and/or candied citrus peel are perfect as garnish. Many people like to add chocolate chips to the ricotta filling as well.

To deep-fry the cannoli, you can use sunflower oil instead of the traditional melted lard. However, the filling needs to be made with the freshest sheep's milk ricotta you can find. To shape them, you also need to find suitable stainless steel tubes (search on Amazon for 'stainless steel cannoli forms').

This recipe makes approx. 30 small 'mignon' cannoli.


Pastry shells:200g flour30g lard4 tbs sugar1 tbs vinegar2-3 tbs Marsala wine

Ricotta filling:5 parts fresh sheep's milk ricotta (eg. 400g)1 part caster sugar (eg. 80g)

For decoration:Coarsely chopped pistachios, or candied strips of citrus peel

Mix and sieve all the dry ingredients. Rub in the lard as if making a crumble or shortcrust pastry. Add the liquids to the crumble dough. Gently mix with one hand and bring together to form a round, uniform shape, while kneading as little as possible. The dough should not be too dry, add a few more drops of Marsala wine if necessary. Wrap in cling film a leave to rest in the fridge for at least two hours.

Meanwhile, use an electric whisk to blend the ricotta cheese and sugar. The end result should be a creamy and light mixture without lumps or sugar crystals, perfect for piping. Leave to rest in the fridge. Heat the lard or frying oil to 180°C. Please observe the instructions of your deep fryer. Thinly roll out a part of the pastry dough with a floured rolling pin, and cut out round shapes approx. 2 inches across, and roll each of them loosely around a stainless steel cannoli form. Use a little bit of egg wash to seal. Deep-fry until dark golden, and leave to drip on absorbing paper. Remove the steel form while still warm (use a small tong or tweezer), and take care not to break the cannolo or burn yourself.

When the cannoli have cooled down, fill them with the sweetened ricotta using a piping bag and garnish both ends with either chopped pistachios or candied peel. Dust lightly with icing sugar and serve immediately after filling, while the cannolo biscuit is crispy.

Learn more about Sicilian food