Kitchen-tested by Lauren Mowery

After a few weeks in Sicily, you’ll quickly realize southern Italians do breakfast differently from anywhere else in the world. Especially if you’re on the eastern side of the island where granita rules the morning table. In the past, locals used snow from volcanic Mt. Etna and mixed it with sugar, milk, and flavored it with local nuts and berries to create a cool, icy treat served with a brioche bun. Etna pistachios, especially, are renowned. The fluorescent green nuts come from an area of the mountain called Bronte, which boasts its own protected designation of origin (like a wine appellation.) If Sicilian pistachios are too hard to find – and self-grind – just use pre-ground pistachios available online or at a specialty store.

To Pair: Sicilian Passito Dessert Wine

Just because it’s breakfast, doesn’t mean Sicilians aren’t enjoying a small tipple with their treat. Of course, they eat granita all throughout the day in case you’d rather wait for a boozy sip closer to 5 PM. The island is known for a range of passito-style wines (late-harvested grapes, often dried in the sun) made from different varieties, including Malvasia on Salina Island to Zibibbo (a synonym for Muscat) on Pantelleria.

Bottles to find: Try either Capo Faro Malvasia Passito or Donnafugata Ben Ryè from Pantelleria.

Serves 4
Total Time: 4-5 hours

Ingredients

  • 2 ½ cups of water
  • 7 oz white sugar
  • 1/4 cup almond milk
  • 7 oz of Bronte pistachios (or any other type), pulverized in a blender or in a spice/coffee bean grinder.
  • 4 mint sprigs
  • Brioche buns (from a good quality local bakery, if available)

Directions

On a high simmer, cook water and sugar in a saucepan until sugar melts. Don’t let the mixture boil. Remove from stove and let cool. When sugar water mixture reaches room temperature, stir in the milk. Next, add the powdered pistachios and mix well. Transfer to a shallow pan or glass dish.

Place pan in the freezer for thirty minutes. Remove pan, stir, and scrape up mixture with a fork to break up ice crystals, then return pan to freeze. Keep mixing every half an hour for 3 to 4 hours until the granita’s crunchy texture smooths out and appears ready to eat. Scoop into four bowls and serve with a sprig of mint and a brioche bun.