A Taste of Sicily

Sicily is a land of rich history, stunning scenery, and, of course, delicious food. Sicilian cuisine is known for its bold flavours, fresh ingredients, and traditional dishes that have been passed down for generations.

We are sharing two of our favourite Sicilian recipes: Caponata and Cannoli. Caponata is a savoury dish made with eggplant, celery, tomatoes, olives, and capers. Cannoli is possibly one of Sicily’s most famous exports and are the perfect way to end a meal or indulge in a sweet treat.

Both recipes are authentic and easy to follow, so you can recreate a taste of Sicily in your own kitchen.

Caponata

Ingredients:

  • 1 large eggplant (about 500g), cut into 2.5 cm cubes
  • 1/4 cup sea salt flakes
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 red capsicum, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 800g tinned crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup capers, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup pitted green olives, halved or roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried chilli flakes (optional)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley or Basil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

 

Instructions:

  1. Place the eggplant cubes in a large colander and toss with the salt. Let sit for 30 minutes to draw out the excess moisture. Rinse the eggplant cubes and pat them dry with paper towels.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, and bell pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and cook for another minute, until fragrant.
  4. Stir in the crushed tomatoes, capers, olives, raisins, red wine vinegar, sugar, oregano, and chilli flakes (if using). Bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Serve the caponata warm or at room temperature, with crusty bread for scooping.

Tips:

  • For a richer flavour, you can fry the eggplant cubes in olive oil before adding them to the pot.
  • If you don’t have red wine vinegar, you can use white wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar.
  • Caponata tastes even better the next day, so feel free to make it ahead of time.
  • Serve caponata as a starter, side dish, or even on its own with some crusty bread.

 

Sicilian Cannoli

Ingredients:

For the Cannoli Shells:

  • 2 cups (250g) 00 flour (or all-purpose flour)
  • ¼ teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoons icing sugar mixture
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 egg, well-beaten
  • 2 tablespoons cold butter, cut into cubes
  • ¼ cup Marsala wine (more if needed)
  • Vegetable or canola oil, for frying (about 8 cups)
  • 1 egg, well-beaten, for egg wash

For the Cannoli Filling:

  • 500g ricotta cheese (ideally sheep’s milk ricotta, but cow’s milk works too)
  • 180g (about 1 cup) granulated sugar
  • 60g (½ cup) dark chocolate chips
  • ¼ cup chopped pistachios
  • ¼ cup glace cherries
  • Icing sugar, for dusting (optional)

 

Instructions:

Cannoli Shells:

  1. In a large bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, sugar, and salt.
  2. Add the egg and butter, and work with your fingertips until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  3. Gradually add the Marsala wine, a little at a time, until a soft dough forms. You may need slightly more or less wine depending on the humidity.
  4. Knead the dough on a lightly floured surface for 10 minutes until smooth and elastic.
  5. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it rest at room temperature for at least 30 minutes, or up to 2 hours.
  6. Heat oil in a large pot or deep fryer to 175-180°C.
  7. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough very thinly.
  8. Cut the dough into 3-4 inch squares.
  9. Wrap each square around a cannoli form, overlapping the edges slightly. Brush the edges with egg wash to seal.
  10. Carefully fry the cannoli shells in batches for 1-2 minutes per side, until golden brown.
  11. Drain on paper towels and let cool completely before removing the forms.

Cannoli Filling:

  1. In a large bowl, combine ricotta cheese, sugar, chocolate chips, pistachios, and candied fruit.
  2. Mix well until combined and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, or until chilled.

Assembly:

  1. Fill the cooled cannoli shells with the ricotta mixture, piping it in or spooning it carefully.
  2. Dust with icing sugar (optional) and garnish with additional chopped pistachios or candied fruit.
  3. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Tips:

  • For extra crispy shells, you can double fry them for 30 seconds each after the initial frying.
  • If you don’t have cannoli forms, you can use metal straws or even rolled-up aluminium foil.
  • For a quick version, cannoli shells can be purchased at many gourmet grocers and delis.
  • You can customize the filling with different flavours, such as orange zest, almond extract, or chopped marzipan.
  • Make sure the oil is hot enough before frying the shells, otherwise they will be greasy.

Don’t overfill the cannoli shells, or they will break.

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