Italy is synonymous for good food, and you’ll hardly find better food than in Sicily. The large island at the bottom of Italy’s boot is rich in both climate and culture, making it a capital of Italian cuisine. Its rich volcanic soil and proximity to the warm, fertile Mediterranean makes Sicily one of the top producers of sweet wine, fresh seafood, and a variety of fruits and vegetables, like lemons and tomatoes.
Like cannoli, arancini are another traditional Sicilian food product that are popular all throughout Italy, and can be made in a variety of ingredients. But whereas cannoli are very sweet, arancini are more savory. Considered more of a snack or street food than a dish, arancini are stuffed balls of rice that are coated with breadcrumbs before being deep fried. Like the decorations on a cannoli, the stuffing of an arancino can vary depending on where you are in Sicily or who you are ordering it from. However, some restaurants and bars can serve arancini with many different types of stuffing. The most common types of arancini are filled with beef ragu, eggplant, peas, butter, ham, and different cheeses, like mozzarella, besciamella, or caciocavallo. To see which ones you like the most, or to get a richer and fuller experience of Sicilian food, try to taste as many different types of arancini as you hop between the beaches at Cefalu and Catania, or the Greek ruins from Taormina to Syracuse.
Like granita, caponata, or eggplant salad, is a popular dish best served cold. It is made with fried eggplant and a variety of vegetables like celery or capers. It is also seasoned with sugar and vinegar, giving it a distinctive bittersweet taste. Like most Sicilian dishes, caponata can be prepared in several different ways. Some popular ingredients include potatoes, peppers, olives, carrots, pine nuts, or raisins. Caponata is more of an appetizer or a side dish than a first course of a meal.
Pasta alla Norma
Speaking of first courses, "pasta alla norma" is one of Sicily’s most popular pasta dishes. Created in Catania, in the shadow of Mount Etna, it is usually prepared with macaroni pasta, sliced tomatoes, and fried eggplants, before being seasoned with basil, pepper, and grated ricotta salata cheese.
Pasta con la Sarde
Another popular, traditional Sicilian pasta dish is pasta "con la Sarde", or with sardines. Being an island in the Mediterranean with hundreds of miles of beaches unsurprisingly means that Sicily offers plenty of pasta dishes with fresh, savory seafood mixed in. Sardines are a popular seafood ingredient, and can be tossed in the pasta with toasted pine nuts, tops of wild fennels, and raisins. Pasta with sardines is best enjoyed in the spring, when sardines are at their freshest.