Whether you’re looking for flavorful meals sourced from ancient recipes, or curious about the authentic history that underpins the city’s sumptuous fare, here are seven dishes you must try during your exploration of Sicily’s magnificent cuisine.
As you travel through the Sicilian wonderland, you will be introduced to the gorgeous stretches of farmland where your daily meals are sourced from, as you indulge in luxurious wines transformed from local, simple ingredients into incredible recipes.
When you journey to Italy’s foodie paradise, you can find a delectable array of appetizing dishes to discover history, heritage, and the evolution of flavors on your trip to Italy’s one-and-only gourmet heaven.
Arancini are rice balls coated with bread crumbs, deep-fried, and often stuffed with meat sauce, mozzarella cheese, and peas, though many chefs also love to include mushrooms, pistachios and eggplants. Many home cooks and commercial purveyors also craft arancini out of leftover risotto. Created around the 10th century AD in Messina, the name comes from its rounded shape and inviting golden-orange color. With your choice of inside filling, arancini is a delicious introduction to the Sicilian culinary experience.
Pasta alla Norma originated in the city of Catania and is one of Sicily’s most iconic dishes. This wonderful pasta dish is decorated with succulent tomatoes, fried or sautéed eggplant, fresh basil and topped with grated, salted ricotta cheese. Known for its superb taste, this famous dish also carries a curious legacy.
It’s rumored that the Italian playwright, Nino Martoglio, tasted a bite of this newly-created dish and exclaimed, “Chista è 'na vera Norma!” or, “This is a true Norma!”, referring to the wonderfully-popular Italian opera of the same name. The legend is true: Pasta alla Norma embodies the best of the island’s Mediterranean flavors and remains a simple but delectable pasta dish for Sicilians and lovers of Sicilian food.
Trapani-style couscous – a delicious combination of fragrant couscous with wild-caught seafood fresh off the coast, created in the heart of one of Sicily’s most iconic cities – is the perfect representation of the history behind Sicily’s culinary heritage. It is thought that couscous arrived in Sicily during the Arab colonialism of the island during the 9th century, and this delicious food has remained a Sicilian staple ever since. During your trip to Sicily, you will savor this hearty and robust dish that bursts with layers of citrus, salt, and spices that exemplify the extraordinary tastes of Sicily.
Pasta with sardines is a seasonal meal that typifies the close connection Sicily has with its perfectly fresh, local ingredients: this quintessentially Sicilian pasta is typically made between March and September, right alongside the peak ripeness of the dish’s ingredients, including wild fennel, onions, raisins, pine nuts and the fishing season of fresh Mediterranean sardines.
Marsala is a decadent, luxurious wine that hails from the Marsala province in Sicily. Often used for cooking rich, caramelized sauces, the fortified wine is also a cherished drinking spirit that boasts intensely rich, unexpected flavors, including apricot, vanilla, tamarind, and tobacco. The wine has three distinct styles of increasing sweetness (secco, semisecco, and sweet) and each adds a layer of complexity to its sauces, excellent for mixing with asparagus, Brussel sprouts, and even chocolate. Whether in a glass or on a plate, Marsala is one of Sicily’s prime gourmet treats.
Italy’s culinary claim to fame is due to its incredibly rich olive oil, and Sicily’s Trapani is the leading producer of the island’s world-famous oil. Trapani’s salt mines and vast olive groves absorb the flavors carried by the sea breeze, and the delicious olive oil that’s produced carries a vivid green color with an herbaceous aroma of fruity notes or a spicy, bitter finish. Trapani's premier product, Valli Trapanesi DOP olive oil, gained the status of Denominazione di Origine Protetta to protect the quality of the cultivation, production, and distribution of the oil and the provinces in which it is produced.
Pecorino Siciliano DOP is another of Sicily’s staple ingredients, a sheep’s milk cheese that decorates many of Sicily’s key dishes. The strong white color and equally strong flavor derive from the concentration of seasonings during its unique developmental process, and its history dates back to the 10th century BC, making it one of the oldest cheeses in Europe. The status of Denominazione di Origine Protetta maintains the high standard of quality for which the cheese is known, ensuring you will thoroughly enjoy this wonderful delight during your foray into Sicilian cuisine.
Sicily has some of Italy's most diverse and delicious food due to its key placement in the crossroads of the Mediterranean, an island that’s been transformed into a cultural sponge over centuries of history. Whether looking for magnificent landscapes or exceptional ruins, your exploration of its unique culinary heritage will also become one of your greatest adventures across this unique little island. Ready to enjoy your Italian food tour? Speak with an Italy travel expert by filling out a Trip Request or by calling our friendly team at 1-888-265-9707.