The Sicilian sweet of the smile: the Cassatella (Cassateddra) of Montevago

The Sicilian sweet of the smile: the Cassatella (Cassateddra) of Montevago

I don't know about you, but it happens to me every time I have non-Sicilian guests: everybody, after a few minutes from their arrival, tells me that they would like to taste the cassata and the Sicilian cannoli.

And I, as always, reply that Sicilian sweets are the eighth wonder of the world, they can be admired and tasted.

 It is a hot afternoon in late September and I am returning from Punta Raisi airport. A couple of friends from Holland, Jan and Paul, decided to visit the west coast of Sicily.

We drive along the motorway and near the junction for Trapani, Paul begins:

- Tomorrow morning I want to have breakfast with cassata and cannoli. Maybe I eat two cannoli.

I pretend astonishment:

- Come to Sicily with a fixed thought, gorge yourself on sweets.

- Of course, we have come to visit this wonderful land, but also to taste your delicious sweets.

- When you taste our desserts, you meet history. Never forget it.

The next morning, Jan and Paul are ready early and I tell them that we will visit Selinunte, but first let's go to Montevago. Paul's eyes widen:

- And when do I eat cassata and cannoli?

- You won't eat cassata and cannoli today. Today I will let you taste the Cassatella di Montevago. Yes, to taste, because that is a dessert that must be tasted slowly. Cassatelle sfigliate, dear Paul, I'm sure you'll eat more than two.

By car I take care to call some Montevaghian friends, expert admirers and supporters of cassatella: Francesco, Giuseppe and Michele. Moved by curiosity, Jan asks me about this dessert.

Cassatella is a double pasta sheet filled with ricotta topped with sugar, chocolate, cinnamon and then fried in the good oil of this area. It is a dessert that the people of Montevago never miss to have on their tables during the holidays, especially during the feast of the Madonna delle Grazie.

The story goes that cassatella made its appearance in Montevago thanks to the Gravina family, and more precisely with the arrival in the monastery of an abbess of a noble family from Trapani and apparently of a French mother.

We are in Montevago and stopping in the large and beautiful square in front of the town, we hear the roar of the water from the fountain. Pleasantly surprised Paul begins:

- What a fantastic place, it's an oasis of peace.

Upon arrival of the Montevago friends, we immediately go to the restaurant of one of them. As soon as we enter the kitchen we see two ladies, who on a wooden shelf, with their skilled hands, after having mixed the ingredients, first knead some sheets. Then they roll them up, cut them into chunks and finally roll them out with a rolling pin to obtain disks about ten centimetres in diameter.

I look at Jan and Paul who, in silence and very attentive, follow the various stages of processing. After a while behind us we hear the sizzle of oil. In a large pot Francesco was frying some cassatelle.

Once the frying is complete, he places them in a baking dish and covers them with sugar. Our hands, at first uncertain, then, quickly take the still steaming cassatelle and we taste them in total silence.

Paul comes to stand next to me:

- Can I have more, are they fantastic?

One of the ladies answers for me – in Sicilian dialect:

- Manciassi, manciassi, sunnu so duci genuini, cà a Montevago avemu tuttu bonu (Eat, eat, they are genuine sweets, here in Montevago we have everything good).

Paul accepts the lady's invitation and takes two cassatelle which he eats immediately as happy as a child:

- Paul, didn't you want to eat two cannoli?

- Yes, but I haven’t finished Montevago's cassatella sfigliata yet!

Saying this, he bursts into a joyful laugh that involves everyone.

- Do you understand now why I have always called cassatella sfigliata montevaghese the sweet of happiness?

- Yes, I understand, because when you eat it, it is so good that it makes you joyful.

- Paul don't forget: cassatella sfigliata is unique, it's history, it's a serious matter.


Montevago cassatella sfigliata recipe

  •  Flour 300 gr
  •  a spoon of sugar
  •  a pinch of salt
  •  melted lard 80 gr
  •  an egg
  •  grated orange peel (lemon)
  •  some old wine (Marsala)
  •  ricotta 300 gr
  •  chocolate in small pieces
  •  sugar 150 gr

Mix the flour with a spoonful of sugar and a pinch of salt, then add the melted lard, an egg, the grated orange peel (lemon) and a little old wine (marsala) as much as the dough itself asks for.

After working it, it is flattened and rolled three times, after which it is left to rest in a cool place.

In the meantime, the filling is prepared, with the ricotta, previously passed through a sieve, chocolate into small pieces and add the sugar and mix everything together.

Take the rolled up dough, cut it into chunks from which small discs of 10 cm in diameter will be obtained with a rolling pin.

Put the ricotta filling on one half of each disk and then fold the other half by making the edges adhere, so as to form half-moons.

Fry on both sides in hot but not boiling oil, drain on a sheet of absorbent paper and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon.














Written by:
Betty Scaglione Cimò

Former art history teacher. Lecturer at the For.Com. For twenty years engaged in international real estate for the promotion of Sicily and in particular for the rebirth of small villages. For many...

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