Sicilian Christmas food: 5 delicious dishes
In this post, I’m combining 3 of my favorite things: Sicily, food and Christmas.
Like many cities, towns and villages across Italy, Sicilians go big at Christmastime. Plenty of dazzling lights, religious traditions and gatherings with the family, it’s a heart-warming time of the year.
However, one of the biggest and best highlights of the season has to be the Sicilian Christmas food. Living in Sicily, you quickly understand why it’s known for being one of the best food regions in Italy.
Its Mediterranean and Arabic culinary influences give Sicilian food a delicious and distinctive twist. Prepare to whet your appetite as I present you with 5 traditional dishes for a truly Sicilian Christmas.
1. Timballini Siciliani (Sicilian timbales)
In a land where pasta is king for pretty much the whole year, Christmas is no exception.
A Sicilian timbale is a baked pasta dish, which takes its name after the round tin that it’s cooked in.
Varieties are aplenty, with some timbales also suitable for vegetarians and vegans. Probably the most popular, and easiest to make, is the timballo di anelletti al ragu.
Different versions — Sicilian Christmas food
Anelletti are small circular-shaped pasta hoops. Different recipes will list different ingredients, but the principle ones tend to be anelletti pasta, pork or beef, and cheese.
Meat-free timbales include timballo di riso or timballini di pasta ai peperoni. Be sure to ask beforehand whether there’s any meat before ordering. Some dishes that appear to be vegetarian may not be.
2. Insalata di arance e finocchi
Enjoy the freshest produce of Sicily at Christmas with this tangy and aromatic orange and fennel salad.
The dish is a classic starter or side dish for Christmas in Sicily and is super simple to make. Slices of fresh Sicilian oranges are mixed with crunchy thin slices of fennel.
A generous, yet simple, dressing of olive oil, salt and pepper complement the dish. Ingredients can vary, but you can find some versions with crushed walnuts, pumpkin seeds or pine nuts.
Insalata di arance e finocchi is a classic Sicilian Christmas dish
“…one of the biggest and best highlights of the season has to be the Sicilian Christmas food.”
3. Crispelle con l’acciuga e la ricotta
Typically eaten as antipasti, these crispy, deep-fried fritters come in 2 varieties: with anchovies or with ricotta.
A recipe that dates to ancient times, the technique involved in making crispelle is one that requires skill and practice. That said, if you do get a chance to try it, make sure to savor every single bite.
Crispelle con l’acciuga ©Francesca Chef
4. Pasta ‘ncaciata (‘ncasciata)
No Sicilian Christmas table is complete without this classic first pasta course.
Pasta ‘ncaciata may not be the easiest to pronounce but none of this will matter the second you take a bite.
Originating from the region of Messina, this baked pasta dish is packed with ragù, hard boiled eggs and plenty of cheese. Other additions can be added to the dish depending on where you are in Sicily.
A must-try dish at Christmas in Sicily, pasta ‘ncaciata ©Only in Sicily
5. Buccellati Siciliani
You instantly know that it’s Christmastime when you see buccellati Siciliani on the table.
Also known as ‘Cucciddati’ in the Sicilian dialect, these chewy cookies are a classic Sicilian dessert at Christmas. Made from shortcrust pastry, fillings typically include figs, dried fruit and spices like cinnamon and nutmeg.
Shapes and sizes — Sicilian food at Christmas
There’s no one size fits all when it comes to cucciddati cookies. Shapes and sizes widely vary, from circular cookies with icing to an entire rotund buccellato.
Fillings can also change from region to region. While some opt for the classic fig or jam filling, you can also find cucciddati with almond or chocolate inside.
Rustic through and through in Glade Park, Colorado ©Airbnb
What are your favorite traditional foods to eat at Christmas? Would you like to try any of these festive Sicilian dishes? Let me know in the comments below.
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Welcome to my site! I'm Lisa, founder of Following the Rivera. I write primarily for a ‘flashpacker’ audience, a demographic (late 20s onward) that enjoys glamping over camping and staying at boutique/luxury boutique hotels. Flashpackers also like to indulge in the local food and wine, cultural activities, as well as a spot of wellness on their travels. Want to know more? Read on....