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
The fritters are made from the Aeolian Island winter squash which are partial to the salty micro-climate terraces of these historic volcanic islands, whose beauty and wealth have attracted the likes of the Ancient Greeks, Romans, Spanish, Arabs including Redbeard and his followers. Their flesh is firmer with a more defined 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.
- 1 kilo (2 pounds) Pumpkin
- 1 teaspoon Active Dry Yeast
- 250 g (1⅔ cups) Plain Flour
- 6 tablespoons Raisins
- 1 large sprig of Rosemary chopped
- 1½ litres (6 cups) mild Extra-Virgin Olive Oil for frying
- ¼ cup Sugar
- 1 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
- Cut the squash in 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.
- Dissolve the yeast in ½ cup warm water. When the squash is tender put it through the course 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 by teatowel.
- 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 vino cotto.
With grateful thanks to Libby Lush for her Aeolian Winter Squash photograph, check out her step-son’s website for a taste and ingredients from Salina and also Susan Lord & Danilo Baroncinio. This recipe and 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