I first heard the term paste nuove at the Santo Spirito Monastery, in Agrigento, where it was used to describe a small spherical bun of baked almond paste filled with zuccata, a type of candied zucchini. (The zucchini in question is an extremely long, light green Sicilian variety. Zuccata resembles candied watermelon rind in concept but not flavor and is sweet and spicy, like good-quality candied citron.) I was amused at the name because I thought it meant that the pastries were an innovation, and I snickered to myself that the last time these were new was probably around five hundred years before.
It was not until I read about paste nuove in Giuseppe Coria’s Profumi di Sicilia (Flavors of Sicily) that I learned that the word “new” refers to the new crop of almonds, from which these pastries are traditionally made.
Since the zuccata is not available in the United States, I give a recipe for it, although I have written the recipe for paste nuove using candied citron or a mixture of candied peel. The paste nuove are sweet, but they are more a confection than a pastry and are, after all, no sweeter than a macaroon.