Photo Essay: Sicilian Food

I like Sicilian food. It’s real peasant food.
~ Raymond Kelly

I will honestly tell you that I was afraid I would not like Sicilian food. I have always read that it is very spicy and includes a lot of garlic and onion. Since I can’t tolerate any of those things, I was apprehensive about eating here. My good friend Giovanni told me, though, that not all Sicilian food was that way and that I could find some great things to eat. He was right. So far, I’ve taken more photos than eaten the foods I’ve seen, but that’s okay.  Those I can share with you.

The photo at the top of this page is of cassata, a Sicilian dessert. It contains a round of sponge cake that they sweeten with juices or liqueurs and top with ricotta cream and candied fruit.

Baba al Rhum

Staying with sweets, Baba al Rhum is a yeast cake that the bakers soak in a syrup made with rum. Sometimes it has a cream filling. While originally a Neapolitan dessert, it’s popular in Sicily.

A variety of lasagne & baked pasta

Lasagne needs no explanation, but just so you know, the one on the left is made with bechamel sauce only. The green one is pesto sauce and bechamel. The baked spaghetti has the tomato sauce.

Panini topped with pizza sauce and more

Street food is popular in Palermo, and we saw a lot of different panini, as an example. The ones above also have a pizza-like topping.

Panino with cooked ham and provola cheese

Ham and cheese fillings are popular in panini and arancini. Mike, who is usually more adventurous than I, chose this as his lunch yesterday. It was, I will admit, a great choice.

Eggplant roll (L), pizza bread (R), and sesame rolls (back)

I wasn’t too crazy about these rolls because I thought they looked too dry.

Veggie focaccia

Who doesn’t like focaccia?

Sicilian roasted potatoes

As you probably know, the Greeks ruled Sicily at one point, and their flavors influenced Sicilian cuisine. I love the Sicilian roasted potatoes flavored with rosemary and lemon.  I’ll post the recipe this week.

Sicilian ricotta cheeses

Ricotta cheese is an important part to Sicilian chefs. They use the savory version in pastas, on pizzas, and in sandwiches, and sweet ricotta takes center stage in everything from cheesecake and cassata to cannoli. On the left in the photo above is ricotta cheese that has been salted and baked. On the right is ricotta salata. Instead of being soft, this ricotta is a hard cheese because the cheesemaker presses it, salts it, and ages it for 90 or more days.


Marzipan became popular when the sisters of a particular convent in Palermo made dozens of marzipan sweets and decorated them to look like fruit. They hung them from the convent’s fruit trees at Easter, and a visiting archbishop saw them and thought a miracle had happened.


Let’s end with cannoli, the most-well-known Sicilian dessert. The cannoli shell is fried pastry dough, and the filling is usually a sweetened ricotta cheese filling.

Next on my list to try is panelle. I’ll let you know more about it soon.





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