IG Holidays

Sicilian recipes

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In Sicily the table becomes the theater of exciting flavours. So what are you waiting for? Be the protagonist and get ready to get your hands dirty!

You could prove your skill by trying your hand at Norma. The standing ovation among the diners will be guaranteed! Or, have you ever tried c’anciova pasta? That too is a masterpiece of taste.

We will guide you step by step in creating the tastiest and most inviting Sicilian dishes, such as stockfish fish ‘a ghiotta or cardoons fried in batter. Or the more irresistible and gluttonous ones, such as ricotta cassata and sfinci, little sins of the throat for which you won’t have to apologize. Quick and effective dishes, such as pane cunzato and the colorful Sicilian blood orange salad.

Don’t be afraid to sing the arancini… Whatever happens, your audience will surely ask for an encore!

You will find recipes seasoned with curiosities, anecdotes and useful advice, so you can prepare them like a real chef. But Grandma can’t fight with her snacks!

Bring the flavours, shapes, scents and colors of Sicilian cuisine directly to your table, it will be a bit like having lived it! And then who knows, the appetite comes traveling …

La Parmigiana di melanzane

Every self-respecting Sicilian knows how to recognize its unmistakable scent even before seeing it, fresh from the oven, at the center of the table in the kitchen. And how to describe the explosion of flavours, after dipping your fork into the crunchy parmesan crust to reach the layers of fried aubergines, generously topped with tomato sauce, mozzarella or caciocavallo? Today we eat parmesan! Single dish, appetizer or side dish. Hot, warm and even cold (to savor the flavors that have defined themselves in the meantime), parmigiana is one of the most loved dishes of the Sicilian tradition, a recipe that every southern family keeps and hands down from generation to generation. And if we wanted to know more about its history, we would find ourselves at the center of the fiercest gastronomic disputes in our country: its origin is in fact disputed between Sicily, Naples and the city of Parma. But the thesis according to which the aubergine arrived in Sicily in the 15th century, thanks to the Arabs who brought it from India, convinces us that it can be a wholly Sicilian dish. Furthermore, according to another hypothesis, the term parmigiana derives from the Sicilian word “parmiciana”, i.e. from the set of wooden strips which, superimposed on each other, form the Persian window, reminding us precisely of the layered arrangement of the aubergines and condiment that make up this tasty dish. Finally, to remove any doubts about the possible Emilian origin, the Accademia della Crusca decrees that there would be no link between Parmesan and our Parmigiana: the ancient and original recipe in fact calls for the use of Sicilian pecorino. Regardless of its origins, this is a dish that is offered in every region of Italy and that can be cooked in every season, thanks to the availability of its main ingredient, which can be easily grown in greenhouses. We give you the classic recipe which calls for it to be scented with basil leaves and which can be enriched, in the tastiest variant, with the addition of hard-boiled eggs.

The Recipe:

Wash and dry the aubergines. Then, with a knife, remove the stem and slice lengthwise to obtain 4-5 mm thick slices. Gradually arrange the slices in a colander and sprinkle them with a little coarse salt. On the top of the aubergines place a plate with a weight, in order to purge them of the bitter vegetation water. Leave it like this for at least 1 hour. In the meantime, cut the mozzarella into cubes and put it to drain. Pour a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil into a large saucepan, add the chopped onion and brown for a couple of minutes. Then add the tomato purée and add a little water, season with salt and cook over low heat for about 40 minutes. At the end of cooking, don’t forget to add the basil leaves, breaking them up by hand. Rinse the aubergines and dry them with absorbent paper before frying them in abundant boiling seed oil, dipping the slices a little at a time. When they are golden, drain them on absorbent paper. Then move on to composition. Grease a 20×30 cm pan with a little sauce, then form the first layer by arranging the aubergine slices horizontally. Grate a little black pepper, sprinkle with Parmesan and pour the mozzarella cubes, distributing them evenly. And finally pour a little more tomato sauce, dropping the fresh basil leaves. Repeat the same procedure, this time arranging the aubergines vertically; continue in this way to form the layers, reversing the direction of the aubergines each time. On the last layer, pour the remaining tomato sauce, the basil leaves, the mozzarella cubes and the Parmesan. Finally put in a hot oven at 200° for about 30 minutes. Once ready, let it rest for a few minutes before serving. Enjoy your meal!


From the Spanish “caponada”, the word “caponata” derives from “capone”, the name with which in some areas of Sicily the dolphin fish is called, a prized fish of the aristocracy which was seasoned with a sweet and sour sauce. The people, not being able to afford the expensive fish, replaced it with the cheaper aubergines while maintaining their tasty sauce.

Recipe for 4 people:

Procedure 1. Cut the aubergines into cubes, sprinkle them with coarse salt and leave to rest in a colander for at least 1 hour to eliminate any bitterness; 2. Dice the celery, put it in a pot of boiling water with a little salt and let it soften for 5 minutes. Drain them and place them on a cotton cloth; 3. Chop the onions and fry them in a little oil. Then add the capers, olives and pine nuts and cook for 10 minutes over medium heat; 4. Cut the tomatoes into cubes and cook them in a pan with the onion for at least 20 minutes until the mixture is well blended; 5. Fry the celery in a pan with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil; 6. Drain the aubergines, dry them and fry them in 300 grams of seed oil and then, once fried, drain them and add them to the mixture with the onions. Also add the celery and stir over medium heat for 3-4 minutes. Finally, add the vinegar and sugar and let it evaporate. Turn off the heat and serve the caponata with basil.

The Palermo caponata is the simplest and most classic version. There are also variants of Agrigento, Catania, Messina and Trapani. In that of Agrigento, the arramascati peppers, honey, garlic, chilli pepper, basil, pine nuts or almonds and dried raisins are added.

The one from Catania includes yellow and red peppers. In some local variants you can find garlic and potatoes. The Messina recipe differs from the Palermitan one due to the presence of peeled tomatoes instead of the sauce. In the Trapani version we also find peppers, vinegar and toasted almonds.

Pasta alla Norma

What does Norma by Vincenzo Bellini have to do with it? Ask a DOC Catanian. Some will tell you about a beautiful teacher, others about Nino Martoglio’s exclamation enraptured by this flavour. Still others from a company of opera singers who every evening, at the end of their performance of Norma at the Bellini Theater, requested this quick and tasty dish from the restaurant. A very simple first course, but rich in taste, originally from the city of Catania. Usually macaroni seasoned with tomato sauce and with the addition of fried aubergines, salted ricotta and basil.

Here’s the recipe!

Cut the aubergines into slices and arrange them in layers in a colander with a little salt. Leave to drain for half an hour to lessen the bitterness. Prepare the tomato sauce: fry the garlic in a saucepan with a drizzle of oil, the extra virgin olive oil, add the tomato puree, a little salt and cook for about 15 minutes, add a few leaves of basil. Fry the aubergines in plenty of oil, then cut them into strips and put them in the saucepan with the tomato sauce. Cook the pasta, add the sauce and the aubergines, sprinkle with the grated ricotta salata.