Panelle is another traditional food eaten in Sicily
Panelle (ie pancake chickpea flour ) is one of the most popular dishes of the cuisine of Sicily , or rather, of Palermo.
Very easy to make, requiring the use of very few ingredients chickpea flour and vegetable oil for frying. If you wish, you can add a little ‘pepper.
Ingredients for 4 people:
– 200 grams of chickpea flour
– 1/2 liter of water
– Sunflower oil for frying
– Parsley or fennel seeds
– Salt and Pepper To Taste
In a saucepan, melt cold 200 grams of chickpeas in a pint of flour salt water , making sure that no lumps are formed. Add some ‘of pepper and put on the fire to low heat stirring constantly.
Keep on the stove for about 15 minutes, or until the dough will begin to break away from the walls of the pot.
At this point, quickly pour the mixture of chickpeas on a smooth and wet surface (such as a marble table or wood) and flatten with a knife so as to make it as thin as possible.
Let cool the dough for a few minutes, then cut into rectangles; done this, heated in an abundant seed oil frying pan and fry the fritters until they are lightly browned.
So you can eat them, or put them inside a soft bun. However, the result will be great!
Chocolate Easter eggs are
a popular part of Italian culture, but …
…did you know that
how to color eggs is also
a part of Easter egg tradition?
Easter, and egg tradition in ancient Rome
|The Leghorn chicken
comes from Livorno.
Chickens, eggs and Italy go back a long way.
Recipe books from ancient Roman daily life use ‘peafowl’ eggs and ancient writings show that chickens were regularly used in sacrifices.
Ever heard of the ‘Leghorn’ chicken?
It takes its name from Livorno, the part of Italy it originated from long before Christopher Columbus took it to America.
And long before Christianity adopted the egg as a part of Easter traditions, the ancient Romans believed that “omne vivum ex ovo” – all life comes from the egg – and it was commonly a symbol of new birth after the winter when everything has lain dormant.
There is some evidence that, even in ancient Roman culture eggs decorated with vegetable dyes using onion skins, beets and carrots were given as gifts during the spring festivals.
Easter egg tradition in modern Italy : why color Easter eggs?
Easter in Italy is above all a religious celebration, and Easter egg tradition reflects that.
During Lent, the weeks before Easter, neither meat nor dairy produce can be eaten and the tradition of hard-boiling eggs so as not to waste food, and painting them to be given as gifts and eaten on Easter Sunday is likely to have originated there.
Easter traditions in Italy originally coloured eggs red. The story goes that following the death of Christ on Good Friday Mary Magdalen travelled to Italy to spread the word of the resurrection.
In an audience with a sceptical Emperor Tiberius Caesar, an egg she had taken as a gift miraculously turned red, symbolising the blood of Christ.
These days eggs are hard-boiled and coloured using food dyes. You won’t find the Easter bunny leaving hidden coloured eggs though – they are more likely to be decorating the table for dinner on Easter Sunday.
Easter egg tradition in Italy : chocolate Easter eggs
|Chocolate Easter eggs in Rome.
As chocolate became increasingly popular in the early 20th Century, the skills of knowing how to color Easter eggs started to fade, and chocolate eggs began to take the place of painted hens’ eggs.
Chocolate Easter eggs have now overtaken decorated eggs in Italy as the most popular gift at Easter.
Italians take everything chocolate very seriously – and Easter eggs are no exception.
Chocolate eggs have become increasingly elaborate as manufacturers tempt people to buy their eggs. In every tiny village in Italy, every supermarket, shop window and market stall will have a huge variety of chocolate eggs in the days leading up to Easter Sunday.
They range from the tiny, solid milk chocolate to the massive, showy hollowed out eggs containing sometimes quite elaborate gifts. All of them will be wrapped in foil or, more commonly, cellophane; most will have at least decorative ribbon, often massive bows.
And, despite Italian engagement ring tradition being to give and receive a ring on Valentine’s Day, modern customs are beginning to use Easter eggs as a way of surprising a partner, the ring being hidden in the hollow egg.
Easter egg tradition and Italian culture : which is the most popular of chocolate Easter eggs?
Most people assume that the company making the very popular Kinder Eggs is German – in fact they are made by Ferrero, a hugely successful Italian family company based in the Piemonte region in Italy’s north-west.
‘Kinder Surprise’ eggs have for some years now been the most popular of chocolate Easter eggs in Italy.
They range from tiny ‘mini-eggs’ to the giant special eggs produced as a limited edition at Easter. Each contains a ‘surprise’ toy, sometimes themed, sometimes not.
As far as Italian children are concerned, these are the best of all chocolate eggs – not necessarily for the chocolate, but for the surprise toy each egg contains.
If you’re visiting Italy at Easter and looking for things to do in Rome keep an eye out for the exhibition of eggs at the ‘Palazzo delle Esposizioni‘ – it takes place each year in the two weeks leading up to Easter, and all proceeds go to charity.
And if you want things to do in Rome for kids at Easter, look out for the amazing variety of chocolate Easter eggs in shop windows, especially in the Trastevere district. Some of the displays have to be seen to be believed and kids love them – though you may find you have to buy an egg or two as a result!
If you want to incorporate some Italian culture and traditions into your own Easter – no matter where you are in the world – make sure you use hens’ eggs as part of your Easter meal.
No Easter in Italy would be complete without chocolate in one form or another. Try making chocolate biscotti – they’re delicious with coffee at any time of day.
by: Carla Passino
Italy has yummy tradition of Easter treats, with a particularly rich range of regional offerings. We select three of the very best cakes and pies which you really shouldn’t miss and recommend three savoury ones also worth trying
Easter is the sweetest holiday of the year. No other festivity can beat the crop of chocolate eggs, marzipan lambs, and Bundt cakes that make their appearance between mid March and mid April. In Italy, in particular, regional traditions make the Easter table even richer and sweeter than elsewhere.
Eggs are ubiquitous of course, as are the colombe, dove-shaped cakes made with flour, eggs, sugar, candied peels and butter, and covered with pearl sugar and almonds. But eggs are just as popular in other countries while colombe, though loosely linked to Lombardy’s history and gastronomy, are a clever and relatively recent commercial initiative from panettone producers, who thought they could adapt the traditional Christmas recipe to another holiday.
Far more interesting are the many regional offerings, which are often artisanal and steeped in religious symbolism—Le Marche’s ciambelle pastries, for example, are shaped like Christ’s crown of thorns. And, like the festivity itself, some of the Easter cakes and sweets are rooted in pre-Christian rites, such as the pastiera, a pie from Naples whose origins are linked to the Roman Spring festival and the cult of Ceres, goddess of agriculture.
You could almost hop from place to place in an endless gastronomic tour of Easter delicacies, but if you want to show some restraint, here are three of the very best regional sweets you really shouldn’t miss.
The first thing that strikes you about pastiera is its scent. It’s like smelling a bouquet of orange flowers. Indeed orange flower water and orange peel go into this pie, which has a crisp golden crust and a soft, creamy filling of ricotta, sugar, eggs and cooked wheat, flavoured with cinnamon and vanilla. It is so heavenly that legend wants it to be the creation of a siren, Partenope, protectress of Naples, who concocted it from the food offerings the populace brought her every spring. The cake, Neapolitans say, was the only thing that was sweeter than the siren’s voice.
Another story gives pastiera equally sacred but more modern origins—it is said that a nun of a Neapolitan convent first made it to celebrate Easter, and tried to capture in the recipe the scents of Spring blooming in the cloister garden. Indeed, pastiera was long the preserve of nunneries, which excelled at making the cake.
Today, it is made at home, usually on Maundy Thursday or Good Friday, so that the flavours have time to blend and steep before the Easter banquet.
There are huge debates in Naples over which is the yummiest pastiera recipe—the traditional version, which uses beaten eggs and ricotta, or the more modern one, which replaces the eggs with custard. The best way to settle the controversy is to eat a slice of each type—purely for research’s sake, of course!
Picture by Mattia Luigi Nappi.
The queen of Sicilian desserts, cassata is one of the richest, most Baroque cakes you’ll ever taste. It is originally an Easter tradition, even though you can now find it at other times of the year too. Its origins, however, are far from Christian.
It was the Arabs who first brought to Sicily the ingredients and, probably, the recipe that later evoved into the cassata. Even the name, cassata, likely comes from the Arabic quas’at, which means bowl, although some people think it may derive from the Latin word for cheese, caseus—cassata being, after all, a luxurious form of cheesecake.
But each of Sicily’s many rulers added something to the cassata recipe. In Norman times, the shortcrust with which the cake had originally been made was replaced with green-tinted marzipan. During the Spanish domination, chocolate and a Spanish style sponge cake (called Pan di Spagna, or Spanish bread) were introduced. And the Baroque era brought the rich candied fruit with which the cake is now topped.
Throughout this time, nuns were widely recognised as Sicily’s best patissiers. They made cassata at Easter, and the cake became a synonym for the festivities—to the point that, according to a Sicilian saying, “those who don’t eat cassata on Easter morning lead a miserable life.”
Today, cassata is a sponge cake filled with ricotta, chocolate and candied peel, topped with marzipan and intricately decorated with icing and candied fruit. It is a feast for eyes and palate—and a serious threat to the waistline.
Unlike cassata and pastiera, pardulas are tiny. They are pretty star-shaped pies of thin, crisp pastry filled with a perfect, soft, golden mound of cheese, sugar and, unexpectedly, saffron, subtly flavoured with lemon or orange zest and occasionally peppered with raisins.
The local tourist board insists that Sardinia is “almost a continent” and, at least for what concerns food, this is true. So it is hardly surprising to discover that both recipe and name of these miniature cheese tarts—which are somewhat reminiscent of medieval darioles—change significantly from North to South of the island.
They are called pardulas in the southern Campidano plains where they are made with ewe’s milk ricotta; and casadinas in the North, where they are made with fresh pecorino cheese. The former are delicate and light, the latter stronger and more flavoursome.
Both variants, however, are quintessential Easter treats, although they are now available at other times of the year too. Their origins are lost in the mist of time and their association with the Spring festivities is unclear. But it is evident that the pardulas are deeply rooted in Sardinia’s shepherding tradition, which turns simple, every day ingredients into a mouthwatering feast.
Surprise and delight your friends and family this Easter with a traditional Italian treat — colomba!
“Colomba” means “dove” and is an important Catholic symbol. Follow this step-by-step guide and you’ll have the aromas of Italy filing up your kitchen in no time! Thanks to Simona of Walks of Italy for letting us use her kitchen, and showing her family recipe. Buona Pasqua! (Happy Easter!)
|One of the typical sweets of the Easter tradition in Puglia and ‘lamb with almond paste . Thealmond paste (also called real pasta ) is very similar to marzipan , with the difference that one is the raw, cooked, and the other is prepared with one of the typical fruits of Puglia : the almond .The origin of this traditional pasta cake is quite uncertain and confused. According to some, it would have been invented by a monk from Lecce who in 1680 wrote the recipe. However, they appear references to this sweet even in ” De honesta voluptate et valetudine” written byBartolomeo Sacchi said Platina , humanist and Italian gastronome of 1400. Some even think that the characteristics of this will postpone pasta in a sense to the kitchen Arab and in fact there is an Arabic manuscript of 1226 which speaks of Faludhaj, ancestor of the almond paste.You could go even further back in time, to the Romans and the Etruscans , but it is better to stop and return to Apulia . Here, with the aid of special molds are made sheep and lambs in almond paste, which refer to the Christian tradition and symbolize the sacrifice of Christ .|
Chop finely the almonds in a blender. Mix the water with the sugar and pour the mixture into a saucepan. Heat the mixture on low heat, stirring, until the sugar begins to spin. At this point, remove from heat and stir in the vanilla and cinnamon and stir the mixture vigorously.
Given a homogeneous paste, pour it onto a slightly damp floor and continue to work the dough with hands until smooth and be compact. Form a ball and let it dry for about 1 day.
After this time use a mold shaped like a sheep, or working the dough with hands to shape it. Let dry the sheep for about two days.
If you cannot make it to one of the many St. Joseph’s Day Celebrations during the month of March, try this dish to serve at home.
Since St. Joseph’s Day always falls during the season of Lent, a period of penance and fasting, no meat is served. Instead, fish and pasta are staples of the feast. One traditional Sicilian dish is Pasta con le Sarde or Pasta with Sardines and another is Spaghetti with Anchovies and Breadcrumbs. Since St. Joseph was a carpenter, the breadcrumbs, which are an ingredient in both dishes, are meant to symbolize sawdust. Both of these dishes are also commonly served as part of the Eve of the Seven
Fishes dinner on Christmas Eve.
The pasta used in Pasta with Sardines is typically a long hollow pasta such as bucatini or perciatelli. In Italy, wild fennel is used and also fresh sardines. Since it is usually difficult to find fresh sardines in the US, this recipe substitutes canned sardines.
Pasta con le Sarde (Pasta with Sardines)
1 pound pasta (spaghetti, bucatini, perciatelli)
1 fennel bulb
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/3 cup pine nuts
3/4 cup fresh bread crumbs
1 medium onion, chopped
3 to 4 garlic cloves, minced
4 to 5 anchovies, chopped
3 (3.75 ounce) cans sardines in olive oil, drained
1/3 cup dried currants
1 pinch saffron
Salt and pepper
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until al dente.
Heat a small skillet; toast the pine nuts until lightly golden, 3-4 minutes. Transfer the nuts to a small plate; set aside. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the skillet; add the breadcrumbs. Stir the breadcrumbs over medium eat until golden, 3-4 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
Remove the fronds from the fennel, chop them, and set aside. Remove the core from the fennel bulb; coarsely chop the bulb.
In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Saute the onions, garlic, and chopped fennel bulb until lightly golden, about 5 minutes. Add the anchovies and half of the sardines; stir to break up the sardines and anchovies. Add the currants and toasted pine nuts. Cook the mixture for about 5 minutes.
Scoop a ladle of the pasta water into the sardine mixture. Stir in the saffron; season with salt and pepper. Cook for 1-2 minutes.
Drain the pasta, reserving some of the cooking water. Add the drained pasta to the sardine mixture in the skillet. Stir pasta well to coat with the sauce. Gently stir in the remaining sardines. Allow to cook for another minute, just to heat the added sardines. Add some of the reserved pasta cooking water if the sauce is too dry. Transfer the pasta to a serving dish. Sprinkle some of the toasted breadcrumbs and chopped fennel fronds on top. Serve, passing the remaining breadcrumbs to be added, if desired.
Spaghetti with Anchovies and Breadcrumbs
12 anchovy fillets in olive oil, drained
1 pound spaghetti
1/2 cup olive oil
6 large garlic cloves, minced
Large pinch of red pepper flakes
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
2/3 cup toasted fresh breadcrumbs
Finely chop 6 anchovy fillets; cut the remaining 6 into 1/2-inch pieces; set aside. Cook the pasta in boiling salted water until al dente.
While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add the garlic, red pepper, and finely chopped anchovies. Cook, stirring until the anchovies dissolve. Remove the skillet from the heat. Stir in the parsley and remaining anchovies.
Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water and drain the pasta. Add the pasta to the skillet with the anchovy sauce. Toss until the strands are well coated. Add some of the reserved pasta water if the mixture seems too dry. Set aside 2 tablespoons of the toasted bread crumbs. Add the remaining crumbs to the skillet and toss the pasta again. Transfer the pasta to individual serving bowls.
Top each serving with a sprinkling of the reserved bread crumbs.
Toasted Fresh Bread Crumbs
(Makes about 3/4 cup)
Toasted breadcrumbs can be made by sauteing them in a skillet or baking them in an oven.
In a skillet:
Warm 2 tablespoon olive oil in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat. Add 3/4 cup of fresh breadcrumbs and stir to coat with oil. Cook, stirring constantly, until the crumbs are golden brown and crunchy, about 5 minutes.
In the oven:
Place 3/4 cup of fresh bread crumbs in a bowl with 2 tablespoons olive oil.
Using your hands, gently combine the ingredients. Spread the breadcrumbs on a baking sheet and place in a 350 degree F. oven. Bake about 8 minutes, stirring a couple of times, until golden brown and crisp.
Easter Baking – Pupa Con L’Uova (Italian Easter Cookies)
I love this time of year when winter ends and spring begins. There is such a sense of renewal and hope. It has warmed up earlier than normal many plants are in full bloom and the spring flowers are opening every morning.
Easter is just around the corner. Every year I have an Easter cookie tradition that is a pleasing reminder of days gone by, baking pupa con l’uovo. It can be a sweet yeast bread that is braided around colored eggs or it can be a cookie dough braided around the egg. My Sicilian mother made these every year.
It is a wonderful combination that smells so good and tastes great. My favorite part is icing the cookies and topping them with various sprinkles, such as little chocolate eggs, marshmellow bunnies or non-pareils.
Pupa Con L’Uova
4 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 sticks of butter
1 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla
Moisten with about 1/3 cup of milk
Blend butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla. slowly add the four and baking powder and milk to bring dough together. Let dough rest in the fridge for an hour.
1 c. powdered sugar
1-2 Tbsp. milk
1/2 tsp anise, almond or lemon extract…..optional
In mixer combine butter and sugar. add the eggs. Combine flour, baking powder and add one cup at a time until you have a soft dough that is easy to handle. Break off a baseball-size piece of dough and form into a disk; then form a double twist with the ends and wrap around egg. Place on parchment-lined baking sheet Bake at 375 degrees for about 25 minutes until firm and pale golden, but not brown. Cool on rack. Combine icing ingredients and whisk until smooth. Use a silicon pastry brush to brush cookies with icing, then sprinkle with non-pareils. You can adjust the flavor of the dough with combinations like almond and orange, or lemon and vanilla if desired. Makes about 12 cookies