Traditional and Delicious Ancient Sicilian Snacks
To discover the most authentic, exciting, and unconventional Sicily, you must follow grandma into the kitchen. There, in her enchanted realm, you'll find that the simplest snacks are the most surprising. This way, you can recreate them and leave everyone speechless. We know, if grandmothers ruled the world, hunger would be eradicated in no time. And there they are, ready with elbow grease to whip up a beaten egg, to fry only God knows what, to pull steaming pans out of the oven with bare hands without batting an eye.
These days, we're always in a hurry, and there's little time to fuss behind the stove. Yet, in the past, when days were shorter, ending at sunset, there was always time to pamper the little ones. Once upon a time, there was grandma's snack, wholesome and delicious, that still makes us nostalgic. But above all, it's something everyone agrees on.
A delight for the eyes and the palate, the Sicilian biancomangiare epitomizes childhood. It would appear out of nowhere, its origins a mystery. Made with milk, sugar, flour, and flavored as desired with lemon zest, vanilla, or cinnamon, its real rebellious touch comes from crumbled hazelnuts or pistachios on top. Unaffected by the passage of time and trends, biancomangiare is still presented in various versions today, some faithful to tradition, others completely revisited in a fit and gluten-free key. The good old milk from Carolina the cow? Gone! Replaced by plant-based milk (soy, almond, rice). Wheat flour? Substituted with rice flour.
In the summer, afternoons at grandma's were punctuated by a nice slice of bread rubbed with tomato (u pani fricatu cu pummadoru), seasoned with a pinch of salt, a drizzle of oil, and a sprinkle of oregano. Those were the days when having a wood-fired oven
at home was essential, so enough bread was made, about once a week. If there were children in the family, a smaller loaf was made for each, called "minnittu", named for its round shape reminiscent of a woman's breast.
This mystical snack is the quintessence of human industriousness, a sort of gateway leading to a primitive, visceral pleasure. Homemade bread, tomatoes freshly plucked from the garden with their sun-kissed flesh, mountain-harvested oregano hung upside down to dry, and the sharp taste of new oil: the recipe for happiness!
If you want to replicate grandma's snack, we recommend trying these traditional recipes. With just a few ingredients and a dash of creativity, you can surprise your guests with a unique and unforgettable culinary experience. Grandma's snack is an opportunity to rediscover the roots of Sicilian cuisine and Italian culture, which is founded on a love for food and the sharing of life's pleasures.
RECIPE FOR SICILIAN BIANCOMANGIARE
Let's start with the recipe presented by our dear friend Carlo from "Sicilia a tutto tondo." He explains it in a fun and easy-to-follow manner. Of course, we recommend following the channel of these talented individuals.
We also found a recipe online that, in our opinion, can be a great and valid alternative. Here it is...
1 liter of whole milk
150 g of granulated sugar
120 g of potato starch
1 teaspoon of vanillin (or vanilla extract)
Grated zest of a lemon
Chopped hazelnuts or pistachios (optional)
1. In a saucepan, pour the milk and add the sugar, vanillin (or vanilla extract), and grated lemon zest. Mix with a whisk to combine the ingredients.
2. Gradually add the potato starch, whisking continuously to prevent lumps from forming.
3. Continue stirring until the mixture starts to thicken and reaches a creamy consistency.
4. Pour the mixture into a dish and let it cool in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
5. Before serving, sprinkle the surface with chopped hazelnuts or pistachios as desired.
RECIPE FOR PANE A FRICATU (RUBBED) WITH TOMATO
Freshly baked bread (preferably rustic or homemade)
Extra virgin olive oil
Fresh oregano (or dried if fresh is not available)
Salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper (optional)
Garlic clove (optional)
1. Take a slice of freshly baked bread. If you like, you can lightly toast it for added crunch.
2. Cut a ripe tomato in half. Rub the open side of the tomato vigorously over the surface of the bread, ensuring the bread soaks up the tomato's juices and pulp.
3. If you like, you can also rub a peeled garlic clove over the bread for added flavor (this step is optional and based on personal preference).
4. Drizzle a generous amount of extra virgin olive oil over the bread.
5. Sprinkle with salt to taste. If you like, you can also add some freshly ground black pepper.
6. Finish by sprinkling fresh oregano leaves over the top. If you're using dried oregano, crush it between your fingers to release its aroma before sprinkling.
7. Serve immediately and enjoy this simple yet flavorful Sicilian snack!
Note: This is a traditional and rustic recipe, so measurements are often done by eye and based on personal preference. Adjust the ingredients as you see fit!
SFINCI (SICILIAN FRIED DOUGH) RECIPE
Sfinci are traditional leavened fried dough balls from Sicily, often served on Christmas Eve. They can be enjoyed both savory or sweet. Here's a detailed recipe based on the information provided:
2 1/2 cups water
1 teaspoon sugar
1 envelope (8 grams) dry yeast
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
Vegetable oil for frying (canola oil is also suitable)
1. **Prepare the Dough:** In a small saucepan, warm the water until it's lukewarm. Take 1/2 cup of this water, pour it into a small bowl, and stir in the sugar. Sprinkle the yeast over this water and let it stand for about 10 minutes until it becomes foamy.
2. In a large bowl, pour the remaining 2 cups of water. Stir in the yeast mixture. Add the flour and salt. Using your hand, stir the mixture vigorously in a circular motion for about 5 minutes until you achieve a thick, smooth dough consistency.
3. Cover the dough well, preferably using blankets, and place it in a warm, draft-free location in your kitchen. Let it sit for 4 hours. An unlit oven with the light turned on is a good option. The dough is ready when bubbles form on its surface, and it has at least doubled in size.
4. **Frying the Sfinci:** Fill a heavy-bottomed saucepan halfway with vegetable oil and heat it on medium-high heat. To test if the oil is hot enough, take a small piece of the sfinci dough and drop it into the oil. If it immediately begins to sizzle, the oil is ready.
5. Use a tablespoon or a soup spoon to drop the dough into the hot oil, scraping it off the spoon with your finger or another spoon. Do not overcrowd your pan. After about 1 1/2 minutes, carefully turn the sfinci over to brown the opposite side.
6. Once they achieve a light golden color, remove the sfinci with a slotted spoon and place them on a dish covered with paper towels to absorb the excess oil. Serve them hot.
Sweet Sfinci: Just after frying, the sfinci can be lightly sprinkled with granulated sugar.
Sfinci Stuffed with Prosciutto Cotto and Ricotta: This can be a bit sticky to prepare. Use about twice the amount of batter normally used for sfinci, place it on a well-floured surface, and flatten it into a rectangular shape. Place half a slice of ham on the dough and top it with about a tablespoon of ricotta. Roll the dough over the filling.
Afinci with Anchovies: Stir anchovy fillets into the leavened dough and fry.
Sfinci with Raisins: Add raisins to the leavened dough and fry as indicated in the main recipe.
Keep leftover sfinci refrigerated for up to 3 days.
Reheat them in a 350°F oven until warmed through and crisp.
Sfinci can also be frozen. To defrost, wrap them in foil and place them in a 350°F oven until hot.
This traditional Sicilian treat is a must-have on Christmas Eve and is truly a tradition worth preserving and passing on!
SCACCE RECIPE (Sicilian Stuffed Focaccia)
Scacce are a type of stuffed focaccia filled with tomato, onion, olives, capers, and oregano. It's a savory dish, perfect for a snack or quick bite.
Ingredients for the dough:
500 g all-purpose flour
250 ml lukewarm water
7 g fresh yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Ingredients for the filling:
2 ripe tomatoes
Pitted black olives
Extra virgin olive oil
1. Dissolve the yeast in the lukewarm water and add sugar.
2. In a bowl, combine the flour, salt, and extra virgin olive oil. Add the water with the yeast and knead until you get a smooth and homogeneous mixture.
3. Let the dough rise for about an hour in a warm and dry place.
4. Meanwhile, prepare the filling by dicing the tomatoes and chopping the onion. Add the pitted black olives, salted capers, dried oregano, and a pinch of salt. Mix the ingredients and season with extra virgin olive oil.
5. Roll out the dough into a thin sheet and cut out discs about 15 cm in diameter.
6. Spread the filling in the center of each disc and fold in half, forming a half-moon shape.
7. Brush the surface of the scacce with extra virgin olive oil and bake in a preheated oven at 200°C (392°F) for about 20 minutes, until they are golden brown and crispy.
8. Serve the scacce hot or warm.
We hope you enjoyed these recipes and that they inspired you to discover the wonderful Sicilian cuisine. Buon appetito!