Onano lentils, from the northern reaches of Italy’s Lazio region, have been prized since the 16th century for their sweet and subtle flavor reminiscent of chamomile. While some Americans cook up black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day, Italians traditionally serve lentil dishes with the belief that they bring luck and prosperity. Their thin skin makes preparation easy: Onano lentils don’t require soaking or long cooking times.
The wrinkly pompia grows both in the wilds of Sicily and in the citrus groves of the island’s northeastern Baronia region. From mid-November to the end of January, its spiny branched trees—the origin of which is still a mystery—produce an intensely bitter fruit, surrounded by a thick white layer of pulp and a colorful outer rind. The pulp, once carefully skinned and hollowed out, is typically boiled in pure wildflower honey for three hours to create a candy called sa pompìa intrea. It’s often served on special occasions, such as weddings and baptisms. Variations on the theme include candied slices combined with honey and almonds to make a traditional dessert, sa trazea.