You might think you know Sicilian food, but you really haven’t tried it until you’re actually visiting the island, and the best place to really let your inner foodie out to play is Palermo, the capital of the island. Once conquered by the Greeks, Phoenicians, Arabs, and Normans, the food in Sicily is quite unlike any other. The unique fusion of flavors with Mediterranean staples means you’ll be enjoying pretty much anything you’ll be trying out there. Here are some absolute must-tries when visiting Palermo.
Pasta Alla Norma
Also known as pasta con le melanzane, this dish is native to Catania, but you’ll find it all over Palermo as well. It consists of pasta with tomato sauce with fried eggplant and finished of with grated ricotta salata cheese and a garnish of basil. It is named after the opera Norma, which was composed by Catanian Vincenzo Bellini.
These fried stuffed rice balls are quite well known in the United States, as they were brought over by Sicilian immigrants that came to America. However, there are regional variations of arancini depending on where you are in Sicily. The most common filling is the ragu, slow cooked meat with tamato sauce and spices. However, it can also be filled with meat, cheese, and peas, as well as ham, mozzarella, and besciamella sauce. The arancini found in eastern Sicily have a conical shape in honor of volcano Mt. Etna.
Busiate Al Pesto Trapanese
While you might think you know all about pesto, did you know that there are many variations of the sauce throughout Italy? The ingredients used in pesto depend on the ingredients that are native to certain regions, which explains the regional variations found all over. In Sicily, you’ll encounter a dish called busiate al pesto Trapanese, which is made of garlic, almonds, tomatoes, basil, and cheese served with corkscrew shaped pasta called busiate.
Cannoli are pretty commonly found in the United States as once again, these were brought over to the country during the wave of Italian and Sicilian immigration in the 1880s through 1900s. These delicious crunchy pastry shells are filled with lightly sweetened ricotta which is sometimes flavored with pistachios or blood oranges. Make sure you try a few of them, as there are several varieties to choose from!
Ever tried Sicilian pizza? If you’ve had it Stateside, then we’re sorry to let you know that you didn’t exactly have an authentic version, most likely. The Sicilian pizza you’ll find in Sicily is made with a thick, fluffy pizza dough that rises for many hours, resulting in a final crust that’s more similar to focaccia. It is typically topped with tomatoes, onions, anchovies, caciocavallo cheese, and oregano. It is one of the most popular street foods found in Palermo.