SICILIAN RECIPES. ARANCINI.
Arancini, a typical dish of the Sicilian kitchen, are fried rice balls filled with meat ragu and peas. They can also be filled with vegetables such as mushrooms or aubergines. Their name comes from the word “arancia” (orange), which they faintly resemble to. The arancinimade in western Sicily are round while those made in eastern Sicily (particularly Catania and Syracuse) are conical. In Sicily, it is easy to find them at anytime and anyplace, always warm and fragrant.
Ingredients before frying:
Ingredients to fry:
Extravergine olive oil
Ingredients for rice:
50 gr Butter
50 gr grated parmesan cheese
400 gr Rice
1 pinch of Saffron
Ingredients for filling:
100 gr Fresh cheese
150 gr Ground beef meat
1 small Onion
3 spoons Extravergineolive oil
Salt and Pepper
100 gr Peas
100 gr Tomato sauce
Boil the rice in abundant salted water with the saffron, and then drains it “al dente”. Add 3 eggs, the butter, and the grated parmesan to the rice and let it cool off.
Cook the peas for 10 minutes with a spoon of oil and two of water. Fry lightly the onion with 2 spoons of olive oil, then add the ground beef meat, add salt and pepper and sauté till cooked,. At this point add the tomato sauce and cook at least for 20 minutes over low heat, then add the peas and let thicken the sauce.
With the rice previously prepared, form one little ball of the dimensions of a mandarin; make a socket to the center where you will place a spoon of sauce, and two or three small cubes of fresh cheese, then close it up with of the other rice. After using all the ingredients, place the balls in flour, then in beaten egg, and then fry in hot oil till golden. Serve the arancini warm.
This dish of fried vegetables gathers together the typical flavours and smells of Sicilian kitchen. Aubergines were brought to Sicily by the Saracens. Sicilian people made them one of the most representative ingredients of their tradition.
As for the origin of the name, there are different “schools of thought “. Somebody things that the sailors were the first to use this side dish that softened their hard crackers and they called it “jail capon”. Some others claim that the name was used by the French cooks, called “Monsù”, who seasoned a kind of fish that in Sicilian dialect is called “capone”.
6 Red peppers
1 Big celery
300 g Green olives
3 Tablespoons of salted capers
1.5 lt Fresh tomato sauce
Salt and pepper
1 Glass of vinegar
2 Tablespoons of sugar
Oil for frying
Wash the aubergines, remove their ends and stems; cut just a strip of peel, by practicing a vertical cut that goes from end to end. Now, cut the aubergineinto rather big cubes and fry them in hot oil. Make the same with peppers. Put them to drain on blotting paper.
Clean the celery removing all the green leaves, cut it into pieces and boil it in salted water. Fry the sliced onion in a large pan. As soon as it is golden brown add the boiled celery, the pitted and chopped olives, the capers ( if we use the salted capers we have to wash away the salt) and the tomato sauce. Season with salt and pepper and cook . When almost cooked, add fried auberginesto the sauce, let it cook for few minutes. Meanwhile, melt the sugar in the vinegar and pour it on the sauce with the vegetables. Let the vinegar simmer well. It is a dish that is best appreciated when eaten cold.
Pasta alla Norma is the most popular pasta with tomato and auberginesin Sicilian tradition. This dish takes its name from the opera La Norma, of the famous composer Vincenzo Bellini who was born in Catania.
It is said that, many years ago, this simple and sublime dish was served to a few artists who performed “music dramas” at that time. The wonder of the artists was so great that they exclaimed: “But this is Norma!” meaning that the dish was an example of perfection and excellence like Bellini’s opera.
500 g of pasta (any kind of pasta)
1 kg Tomatoes
Basil to flavour
2 cloves of garlic
Oil for frying
Salt and pepper
Baked salted Ricotta
Fry the garlic and add the cleaned tomatoes cut into pieces and a few leaves of basil. Season with salt and pepper and cook over low heat. When the tomato is cooked, remove from heat, pass it through a sieve and set aside the so obtained sauce.
Wash the aubergines, remove the stems together with a piece of the aubergine, cut just a strip of skin practicing a vertical cut from end to end (the skin must remain, but this strip). You can choose to cut the auberginesinto slices or cubes. The result does not change. Then fry them in hot oil and place them on absorbing paper. Cook the pasta al dente, mix it with the tomato sauce and serve laying down on it the fried aubergines, some freshly grated salted ricotta and some basil leaves.
Cassata or Cassata siciliana is a traditional cake especially from the area of Palermo, but it is possible to find it everywhere in Sicily.
The Sicilian word cassata do not derive from the Arabic term qashatah ("bowl"), as is often claimed, but from “caseata” that means "cheese concoction“. It started to indicate a dessert until the late 17th century.
800 gr Ricotta cheese
500 gr Sponge cake
250 gr Sugar
200 gr Candied fruit
150 gr Black chocolate
150 gr Icing sugar
1 Stick Vanilla
Put the sugar, vanilla stick and a couple of spoonfuls of water into a pot. Let the sugar melt on low heat mixing with a wooden spoon and then remove the vanilla.
Sieve the ricotta and put it into a bowl, mixing it well with a wooden spoon until it is soft and creamy. Without stopping mix, and add the melted sugar. Chop up the dark chocolate and dice the candied fruit and add them to the ricotta, keeping aside a little candied fruit.
Line a cake pan of about 25 centimeters diameter with plastic food wrap. With a sharp knife cut the sponge cake into slices a centimeter thick and cover the bottom and the sides of the dish.
Then pour the mixture into the cake dish and make it level it with a spatula. Then cover it with the rest of the sponge cake. Cover it with plastic food wrap and put it into the refrigerator for a couple of hours.
In a pot, put 2 to 3 spoonfuls of icing sugar. On low heat and mixing well, check that it has reached the right texture.
Take the cake out of the cake pan and put it on a serving dish .Put the marzipan to cover the whole cake and then pour the icing sugar.
Let it dry and, then, decorate it with the remaining candied fruit and serve.