You may think you know Sicilian food, but you haven’t actually tried it until you’ve been to the island, and the best place to let your inner foodie play is in the island’s capital, Palermo. Once conquered by the Greeks, Phoenicians, Arabs and Normans, Sicilian cuisine is unlike any other. The unique combination of flavors with Mediterranean staples means you’ll enjoy everything you try there. Here are some absolute must-tries when visiting Palermo.
Pasta alla norma
Also known as pasta con le melange, this dish is native to Catania, but you’ll also find it all over Palermo. It includes pasta with roasted eggplant and tomato sauce and finished with a garnish of grated ricotta salta cheese and basil. It is named after the opera Norma, which was composed by Catania Vincenzo Bellini.
These fried stuffed rice balls are well known in the US, as they were brought to America by Sicilian immigrants. However, there are regional variations of arancini depending on where you are in Sicily. The most common filling is meat slow cooked with ragu, tomato sauce and spices. However, it can also be filled with meat, cheese and peas, as well as ham, mozzarella and basil sauce. The Arancini volcano in eastern Sicily is cone-shaped in honor of Mount Etna.
Al Pesto Trapaniese in Busia
While you may 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 local ingredients of the particular region, which explains the regional variations found everywhere. In Sicily, you’ll encounter a dish called busiate al pesto Trapanese, which is made with garlic, almonds, tomatoes, basil, and cheese served with corkscrew-shaped pasta.
Cannoli are commonly found in the United States as, again, they were brought to the country during waves of Italian and Sicilian immigration in the 1880s to 1900s. These delicious crunchy pastry shells are filled with lightly sweetened ricotta that 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 got it stateside, we’re sorry to inform you that you probably don’t have an authentic version properly. 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 resembles focaccia. It is usually topped with tomatoes, onions, anchovies, caciocavallo cheese and oregano. This is one of the most popular street foods found in Palermo.