What To Eat When In Palermo
Pasta con le Sarde is a classic Palermitano pasta dish deriving from the capital of Sicily, Palermo and is made with freshly caught sardines from the Mediterranean Sea and Sicilian wild fennel which grows in abundance across the island. This dish has a rich Arabic influence with the sweet addition of raisins and savoury pine nuts running through the pasta, brought to Sicily during the Arabic settlement. The dish can be dressed up for a special occasion and or prepared for a simple weeknight dinner. We suggest serving with a crisp glass of white wine such as a Grecanico or a Carricante, both indegenous grape varieties to Sicily.
Unique Sicilian Ingredients
Sicilian wild fennel “Finocchietto Selvatico” tends to be harvested once a year around March time, depending on how the weather has been throughout the year. Similarly to foraging elderflowers in the UK, wild fennel can be picked yourself as it is grown widely across Sicily. Many locals will spend a day picking the wild fennel, then take it home to clean it, boil it and typically turn it into a simple pesto with a good quality olive oil and lemon juice. It can be either jarred and stored in the cupboard or placed in ice cube trays to freeze to use every time you need to make pasta con le sarde. If you’re not a keen forager you can also head to a fresh food market where local stalls will be selling trolley loads of wild fennel. It’s rare to find wild fennel growing in the UK that’s why we have worked closely with local Sicilians to forage, harvest and produce the most delicious, fresh Sicilian wild fennel pesto so you can make your very own pasta con le Sarde without compromising on taste or trying to find a similar substitute.
Palermo’s Top 3 Food Markets
When visiting Palermo you will hear of three food markets to visit in particular. Palermo’s main food market and our personal favorite is Ballarò, which is centred around lots of small independent restaurants and street food vendors, amongst lots of fresh vegetables and freshly caught fish. However, at Mercato del Capo you can also find an array of ingredients to be inspired by as well as typical Sicilian fabrics and materials. Then we have La Vucciria, where you will discover a variety of street food vendors particularly in the evening serving classic “Cibo da Strada” like pane con la milza, panelle and arancina, the perfect place to enjoy an aperitivo in the evening.
Photo: Cattedrale di Palermo taken by “The Thinking Traveller”