Sicilian grandmothers, while children and grandchildren still turn between the blankets, have been up for hours intent to supervise pots and pans. This is how they express love: food. Especially during the holidays, the pleasure of seeing the whole family together increases the energy spent by grandmothers to prepare another unforgettable feast. We reward them in our own way, with a hug or having seconds (or more) of a dish, even though we know that they expect nothing in return. Some of them, not satisfied to feed and cuddle their families, revealed the most appreciated recipes of their Christmas repertoire.





For the dough:

  • 1 Kg (2.2 lbs) of flour  
  • 1 stick of 25 g of yeast 
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil  
  • 1 tbsp of salt                                                                     
  • 1 scant tbsp of sugar                                                        
  • warm water q.s.                                                               

For the filling:

  • cauliflower, broccoli or chard
  • a pinch of salt
  • chives
  • black olives
  • 300 g of fresh pepato (cheese)
  • a few anchovies

The evening of December 24 at grandma Maria’s house in Catania the scacciata (bread dough) can’t go amiss “Otherwise, what kind of Christmas would it be?”. The recipe was handed down by her mother, who taught Maria and her sisters who used to come up with the Christmas menu together. After having arranged all the ingredients the night before, so as not to forget anything, the following morning you start with working the dough by hand until it becomes elastic. Let your dough rise for at least 2 hours covered with a cloth. The secret? “Put it in a warm place for a good leavening” says grandma Maria. In the meantime, make the filling: wash the cauliflower, blanch it in salted water and drain it accurately to avoid excessive moisture in the dough.  Follow the same procedure for the broccoli and chard. Once well raised, roll out the dough with a rolling pin. Put a half on the baking tray, add the filling, season with salt and pepper and then with the other half of the dough, brushing the surface with olive oil. Then seal the edges and make small holes by using a fork, “so that it doesn’t thicken” suggested grandma Maria. Bake the scacciata in a preheated oven (250º C) until a golden crust forms.


Ucria (ME)



For the dough:

  • 1 Kg of flour             
  • a cup of water                  

For the filling:

  • 1 onion
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 stalk of celery
  • ground pork
  • sausage
  • tomato purée

Grandma Rosina, native of Ucria (Messina), who has lived in the province of Catania for many years, carries on the maternal tradition of fresh homemade pasta. The preparation starts with mixing water and flour, worked to obtain a homogeneous dough. Then roll the dough by hand and form cylinders using small pieces of iron (like those of an umbrella). Finally cut it with knife and place the pasta shapes on a cloth. The chef suggested to “prepare everything the day before so that past has time to dry”. On Christmas Day, but it often occurs on Sunday, Rosina’s house smells of homemade sauce: sautée onion, carrot and celery, with a little oil, then brown the pork (Rosina likes to add a little sausage: “that makes everything more tasty”). When the meat is well browned, pour the tomato sauce and let it cook on a low heat for at least two hours. “When I was a girl I helped my mother in the kitchen ‒ she rememberes ‒ now my grandson often helps me and he wants to join hospitality institute”.


Villalba (CL)



For the roast:

  • 1 Kg of minced meat (pork and beef)
  • 1 chopped onion                 
  • parsley
  • 4 eggs                                                                                 
  • 250 g of breadcrumbs                                                        
  • cooked ham                                                                        
  • mozzarella 
  • hard-boiled eggs                                                                                                      

For the side dish:

  • 3 peppers (yellow, red and green)
  • 2 courgettes
  • 1 aubergine
  • 3 potatoes
  • 1 onion
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • chili pepper
  • oregano

Grandma Concetta (Villalba, CL) really cares about a beautifully set table: “When I was a child, my mother took the good china and taught me to arrange cutlery, dishes, glasses and cloth napkins on the embroidered tablecloth of the occasions”. She gave us the recipes of a spectacular dish to put on the table: the ring-shaped roast with diced vegetables. Procedure: mix all the ingredients into an oven pan until you get a homogeneous mass. Put the mixture on oven paper, giving it a rectangular shape, and lay out the cooked ham, slices of mozzarella and hard-boiled eggs lengthwise. Roll it up by helping yourself with oven paper and put the roll on a ring-shaped tin. Bake in oven at 180º C for 30 minutes, then remove the oven paper and let it brown for a few minutes. For the side dish: cube the vegetables and season olive oil, salt and chili peppers and oregano. Place the vegetables on a baking sheet and bake in oven at 180º-200º C for about an hour. “When the roast is cooler, ‒ says  Concetta ‒ put the vegetables in the middle and the result will be a dish giving a touch of fun to the table with its colors”.


Valledolmo (PA)



For the dough:

  • 1 Kg of flour       
  • 250 g of butter (or margarine or lard)
  • 1 vanilla pod
  • 300 g of sugar                                                                                          
  • milk q.s                                                                                                                            

For the filling:                                                

  • 1 kg of almonds
  • 500 ml of water
  • 800 g of sugar
  • orange peel  
  • raisins

To conclude the menu, grandma Gina (Valledolmo, PA) shared with us the recipe of a traditional Christmas dessert from Palermo: the vuccidati (cookies). Make a dough by mixing milk, butter and flour and then roll it out with a rolling pin or by machine (she entrusts this task to her husband Giuseppe). Mix the ingredients for the filling into a pot until you get a dense compound and allow it to cool. Then place the filling on the dough and fold the edges. Cut the pieces of the desired shapes and arrange them on a baking tray. Bake it in oven at 180º for 20 minutes. “Last year we spent Christmas holiday in London to meet our new grandson, but when we can’t stay together, I prepare and send these cookies to our sons and grandchildren”. It’s not only a gift but also a way to feel at home during holidays.

Translated by Daniela Marsala