Arancini di riso

“Arancini di riso” (or “arancine”, the female version, as used in Palermo), the pride of Sicilian cuisine, are small rice timbales, similar to oranges, served on a variety of occasions, as a single-course, appetizer or happy hour.

500 gr. Rice for risotto (Vialone Nano variety)
1 onion
100 gr. butter
1/2 glass white wine
Vegetable broth
Saffron, salt, pepper

200 gr. meat sauce
Mozzarella cut into cubes (optional)
Ham cut into cubes (optional)

Breadcrumb coating
2 egg whites
Bread crumbs
Peanut or sun-flower seed oil


Phase 1
The day before, prepare the meat sauce, so the mixture is malleable enough to make the rice balls. Chop some carrot, onion and celery and pan-fry in olive oil till lightly browned. Add the minced meat. When the meat is half-cooked, add the peas and the tomato sauce and cook on a low heat. Add salt and pepper to taste and leave to rest until the following day.

Phase 2
The next day, prepare the rice, starting with the vegetable broth: pour some water into a pot; add 1 carrot, 1 celery stalk and 1 onion and boil for 20 minutes. In a saucepan place 50 gr. of butter and a chopped onion and fry gently for 5-7 minutes. When the onion has released its flavour into the butter, filter the butter with a strainer and remove the onion. Put the butter back into the pan, raise the heat and add the rice. Toast the rice, mixing it into the butter until golden. Add white wine and let it reduce. Add sufficient vegetable broth to cover the rice and add more when it has been absorbed, repeating until the rice is cooked. Dissolve the saffron in a glass with a little broth and add in moderation to the rice. Add salt. Two minutes before the rice is fully cooked, remove the pot from the heat, add 50 gr. of butter and amalgamate, stirring from the bottom towards the top. When the rice has absorbed the butter, pour into a container and leave to cool.

Phase 3
Prepare a table with the container with the rice, the meat sauce, a soup bowl with the whipped egg whites, a large plate with salted breadcrumbs, a container for the finished arancini. Take a fistful of rice in one hand and lightly line the cupped palm of your other hand with the rice. Place a tablespoonful of meat sauce in the hollow that has been created. Use your free hand to take another small fistful of rice and use the back of your occupied hand to spread the rice so it lines the cupped palm of this hand too. Bring the two halves together by placing one hand over the over and create a ball. Use some additional rice to fill any gaps and pat the ball into a round shape. Place the rice ball in the plate with the egg whites and turn it over so it is well-covered ,then roll the ball in the breadcrumbs. Place the rice ball in a high-sided pan with enough very hot frying oil to cover half the rice ball. After frying, remove the arancini from the pan and place in a container on kitchen paper to absorb the excess oil.

Buon appetito!

For 12 arancini
Preparation time: 60 minutes
Cooking time: 45 minutes


Pasta alla Norma


“Pasta alla Norma” is a first course originating from Sicily: a speciality from Catania in honour of the “Norma”, the well-known opera by the Catania-born Vincenzo Bellini.


Cooking salt
200 gr. salted ricotta cheese
2 cloves of garlic
12 basil leaves

2 medium-sized aubergines
400 gr. spaghetti (or other pasta)
500 gr. peeled Italian tomatoes
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

For frying:
Olive oil

Wash the aubergines and cut off the tips, then cut into 4 mm-thick longitudinal slices. Place the aubergine slices in a large strainer and sprinkle them with cooking salt. Cover with a plate, place a weight on top and leave for 1 hour. Prepare the tomato sauce by lightly frying the garlic in the oil and then adding the peeled tomatoes. Cook the tomatoes on a low heat until they break up. Remove from the heat and add half of the fresh basil leaves. Rinse the aubergine slices thoroughly to remove the salt, dry them with a cloth and fry them in very hot but not boiling olive oil, until golden. Place the aubergine slices on kitchen paper to absorb the excess oil. Boil the pasta and, in the meantime, grate the ricotta and set aside in a container. Cut the fried aubergines slices into strips and place in a pan with a few tablespoons of tomato sauce. Strain the al dente pasta and add to the condiment in the pan. Stir fry for a minute then serve in a plate with some more tomato sauce and cover with a few slices of aubergine. kept aside for this purpose, the salted ricotta and the remaining basil leaves.

Buon appetito!

Serves 4 people
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 35 minutes


Cassata siciliana

cassata siciliana
cassata siciliana

The name comes from the Arab word “qas’at”, meaning “bowl”. The cassata is a traditional Sicilian cake made with sugared ricotta cheese (traditionally goat’s milk), sponge cake, almond paste and candied fruit. The Sicilian cassata was officially recognized and included in the list of traditional Italian agricultural and food products (P.A.T) registered with the Italian Ministry of Agricultural, Food and Forestry Policies (Mipaaf).

1 sponge cake, 26 cm in diameter

1 kg goat’s milk ricotta cheese
200 gr. icing sugar
1/2 dl Rum
120 gr. chopped candied fruit
120 gr. chopped dark chocolate
Almond paste
60 gr. finely chopped pistachio nuts
150 gr. finely chopped almonds
50 gr. icing sugar
2 tablespoons Rum

Rum syrup
2 dl water
50 gr. caster sugar
1/2 dl Rum

450 gr. Fondant (or 200 gr. ricotta mixed with 20 gr. icing sugar)
2 tablespoons of apricot gelatine and candied fruit, to taste

Mix the ricotta with the sugar until you have a smooth and uniform paste, and then place it in a terrine. Leave the candied fruit to macerate in the Rum for about 20 minutes. Strain the candied fruit and add to the ricotta together with the chocolate. Cover the terrine with cling film and leave in the fridge for 12 hours.
Prepare the pistachio nut paste by mixing the pistachio nuts with the almonds, Rum and icing sugar. Separately, prepare the syrup: place the sugar in a pot, add the water and boil for a few minutes. Remove from the heat and cool, and then add to the Rum. Cut the sponge cake into slices, place them side by side on the bottom of a wet cake tin lined with cling film, and spray the slices with Rum syrup. Cover the sponge cake with the ricotta and close with the other slices of sponge cake, and spray the top with Rum syrup. Seal the cake tin with cling film and store in the fridge for 12 hours. Turn out the cassata and brush with the liquefied gelatine. Cover the cassata with fondant melted in a bain-marie, or with the ricotta. Roll out the almond paste. Cut out diamond shapes with a pastry cutter and place round the side of the cake. Use the candied fruit to decorate the cake and place in the fridge until ready to serve.

Buon appetito!

Serves 10 people
Preparation time: 1 hour
Cooling time: 24 hours in the fridge
Cooking time: 15 minutes