When we visited Sicily the first time it was almost like a whole new world of Italian food. If you’ve traveled to Italy you may have experienced that each region has their own way of creating food ~ take pasta for example. In Bari (Pulgia region in Southern Italy), orecchiette is common. The name comes from its shape, which resembles a small ear.
Walking down the neighborhood streets of town you will see women working the dough in their kitchens or drying the finished orecchiette on screen trays in alleyways. You won’t typically see this is other regions of Italy.
So it was a gastronomic treat for me to become familiar with the specialities in the regions in Sicily, the unique foods, and the way they were prepared.
Cheesecake (torta di ricotta) is one of my husband’s favorite desserts. With fresh ricotta hot off the stove, it seemed like a great recipe to make today. Since I’m half Sicilian I owe it to my ancestors to make it once in a while, right?
It is said in some historical journals that Sicilian cheesecake was born from a fascination with sugar, not cheese. Interesting fact, sugar was not cultivated in Sicily during the Roman era, it was brought by Arabs and took root in the tenth century – when sweet inventions using sugar started appearing.
Side note – when we visited Modena, Italy last year we learned that people used a balsamic vinegar called “soba” as a sweeting agent before sugar was common in Italy. I brought some back from our trip and it crystallized in the bottle similar to honey. It is great drizzled on vanilla ice cream by the way. Check out my post on balsamic vinegars.
There are many great recipes out there for cheesecake, and this Sicilian version is very easy. No crust to make either.
You can get very creative with this recipe, substituting Limoncello or orangecello for the vanilla extract ~ oh yeah ~