Yummy pumpkin fritters from Salina; the green pearl of Italy’s Aeolian Islands, aromatic and plump with freshly snipped rosemary, juicy sweet raisins and rolled in cinnamon spiced sugar
Pumpkin Fritters for Halloween or a Warming Autumn Treat
These #overtheborder from Abruzzo pumpkin fritters have become a family favourite after I was invited on a blog tour to the Aeolian Islands. It’s now super easy to visit the islands from Abruzzo as you can catch the plane from Pescara to Catania in Sicily and then take a boat across turquoise blue seas to these historic volcanic islands, their beauty and wealth have attracted the likes of the Ancient Greeks, Romans, Spanish and Arabs including Redbeard and his followers.
The fritters are from twin-peaked Salina, stunningly gorgeous and made famous by the film Il Postino which was based here. Endemic Aeolian Island winter squash thrives on the island’s salty micro-climate terraces. Their flesh is firmer with a more refined flavour than the Jack ‘O’ Lantern pumpkins associated with Halloween, and a 28 kg squash monster isn’t considered anything out of the ordinary.
Sfinci ‘I Cucuzza Roof Raisers
“Sfinci ‘i cucuzza, to give these pumpkin fritters their local Aeolian name, were traditionally made for ” Ittata i l’astricu, the construction of the intricate flat roof of Aeolian houses, a special occasion where food and celebration were inseparable.
The roofs were made in layers: first a bed of reeds resting on a series of chestnut beams and then a mixture of lime and rupiddu (lightweight volcanic pebbles). New roofs are no longer built with the same materials. Cement has taken over and there is no party held for cement mixing! But in the past the women would bring baskets of food and sweets and someone would play the tammurieddu (tambourine), encouraging dancing and singing way into the night.”
If you visit Salina, Luisa D’Albora makes these sfinci ‘i cucuzza ‘i mala razza in her restaurant Il Delfino on the shore in Lingua if you ask ahead of time.
- 650 g Pumpkin or Squash
- 1 teaspoon Active Dry Yeast
- 180 g 00 Flour
- 5 tablespoons Mixed Raisins & Sultanas
- 1 large sprig of Rosemary chopped
- 1½ litres (6 cups) mild Extra-Virgin Olive Oil for frying
- 55 g Sugar (a mix of icing and caster sugar for crunch)
- 1 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
- Cut the pumpkin/squash into quarters and peel. Scrape out the seeds and strings and cut into large chunks.
- Put in a heavy saucepan, sprinkle with salt, cover and steam over low heat without adding water.
- When the squash is tender mash it, or run it through the coarse disk of a food mill.
- Soak the raisins in warm water. Drain and combine with the pumpkin, the flour, the yeast, and chopped rosemary needles, Stir with a wooden spoon until smooth. The batter should be stiff enough to hold the spoon upright. If, necessary, add a little flour.
- Cover and it for an hour in a warm place for an hour protected with a tea towel.
- Heat the olive oil in a deep heavy pan to a medium heat.
- Drop one small teaspoon at a time into the hot oil. Fry a few at a time and remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.
- Combine the sugar and the cinnamon and cover the bottom of a serving plate. Roll the fritters in the sugar mixture and serve hot. If you prefer, they may be rolled in hot Vinocotto.
With grateful thanks to Libby Lush for her Aeolian Winter Squash photograph, check out her family’s website for a taste and ingredients from Salina and also Susan Lord & Danilo Baroncinio. It is their recipe I have abused and whose text about when these special sweet and savoury fritters were eaten is reproduced with kind thanks from their cookbook – Pani Caliatu: Recipes And Food Lore From Aeolian Kitchens As Told By The Islanders.
These fritters were first tasted on the UNESCO Mirabilia2015 blog tour of the Aeolian Islands