Traveling to Sicily during the summer is truly a feast for the senses. The temperate climate of southern Italy rewards the region with a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. In fact, the only produce imported to Sicily this time of year is bananas and pineapple. Everything else you’ll find is local, fresh, and absolutely delicious! Perhaps one of the most eagerly anticipated aspects of your vacation is not simply the food you’ll eat, but specifically, the types of desserts you’ll be eager to indulge. Seasonal fruit is a huge part of that experience; find Select Italy’s favorites below.
1. Apricots (Albicocche)
Towards the end of May, expect albicocche, or apricots, to appear in desserts such as the classic apricot and ricotta tart (crostata alla ricotta con albicocche). Both apricots and almonds were brought to the island by the Arabs, and have since been incorporated into much of Sicilian cuisine.
2. Strawberries (Fragole)
Strawberries, too, blossom in the spring and are a delicious and colorful addition to many desserts. Sorbetto di Fragole is a lesser known Sicilian favorite. This is actually quite easy to make at home, whether or not you have an ice cream maker:
Sorbetto di fragole (Strawberry sorbet)
Ingredients (serves 8):
- 2 lbs of strawberries
- 1 1/2 cups of sugar
- The juice of 1.5 lemons
- A drop or two of rum (optional)
Blend the strawberries, add the sugar and lemon juice and mix well. Adjust the flavor if necessary and pour into an ice-cream maker. No ice cream maker? Just place mixture in freezer and stir every 10-15 minutes.
3. Sweet Pears (Perine)
Pears are especially popular in the spring. The Sicilian pears, or Perine pears, are smaller than you might normally find elsewhere. Pears are poached and sweetened to be eaten with a spoon. They might be baked in a cake with almonds and lemon, or found atop tarts.
Many times, they are simply eaten sliced with cheese, such as gorgonzola. Topped with orange blossom extract and honey, this dish is divine enough to make you feel heritably Mediterranean, even if you are not. In fact, pears and cheese make a great breakfast as well as dessert. This is a pretty typical pairing throughout Italy and is one of the meals I look forward to most when I visit my cousins in Sicily.
Summer is also high season for cherries. One of my favorite pairings is sweet, warm cherries topped with ricotta cheese and toasted almonds. You might try adding a little vanilla extract and honey to heighten the flavors.
Which Italian desserts are your favorite? Let us know!