parmigiana – aubergine bake

Finally, it’s time to introduce you to my absolute favourite Italian dish. Parmigiana. Love on a plate. Warming, soothing, tantalising, and melt-in-your mouth delicious… There are various versions in the south of Italy, and both the Neapolitans and Sicilians proudly claim it’s theirs. The Sicilian variety is good, and in fact anything that contains fried aubergines is good by definition, the way I see it. On the island, however, parmigiana often contains ham and sliced Continue Reading →

zuppa di zucca – pumpkin soup

I wanted something simple. I wanted something quick. I wanted something that would make me feel virtuous after the excesses of Christmas. But I didn’t want something that tasted virtuous. That would have been going too far. I also needed a way to use up the huge slice of pumpkin that had been lurking menacingly in the fridge for days. Pumpkin is a very popular vegetable in Sicily, although despite this it crops up in Continue Reading →

bietole e lenticchie – chard and lentils

One look at these bunches of vibrant crimson and deep green leaves and I was won over. Nothing could be that beautiful and not taste delicious. I bought myself a bagful, and it was only then that I realised I didn’t have a clue what to do with them. Of course, when in doubt, ask the person doing the selling, which in this case was a man with a white cowboy hat and matching goatee Continue Reading →

fagiolini larghi ammollicati – runner beans with breadcrumbs

Here in Northern Sicily they love breadcrumbs. Not what you would imagine to be the Mediterranean ingredient par excellence, I know, but they pop up all over the place. Sicilians take thin strips of meat, pounded until almost translucent, and cover them with mollica condita (breadcrumbs mixed with parmesan, parsley, oil, salt and pepper. Garlic is often added, and in Palermo also sultanas and pine nuts). They then roll them up and slide them onto Continue Reading →

pasta con le zucchine – pasta with courgettes

  After the Baroque excess of fish soup, something of almost Buddhist simplicity this time. If you have any leftovers, you’ll be able to give them to your pet rabbit without any qualms. Actually, it would probably go quite well with carrots. One of the advantages is that it requires no soffritto and that you only use one saucepan, with the pasta and its sidekick cooking together in the same water. So it’s quick, easy, Continue Reading →

insalata strombolana – stromboli salad

I have a deep, enduring love for capers. As soon as the weather warms up (in other words, now!), I’ll pull them out of the store cupboard and start adding them to salads, pasta and fish dishes. Capers for me, like apricots, olives and chilli peppers, are an essential foodstuff. Their salty, floral, aromatic kick is addictive, like kissing lips still wet from the sea… Olives and chillis I can (and do) grow myself, but Continue Reading →

cipolle di giarratana al forno – baked giarratana onions

Onions: you either love ‘em or you hate ‘em. I love ‘em, and for onion lovers, the cipolla di Giarratana is as good as it gets. They originally come from the town of Giarratana up in the hills of south-east Sicily, but are sold in markets all over the island. Whether they arrive further afield I couldn’t say. I sincerely hope so, because I hate to think of you going without. Anyway, these pink-violet beauties Continue Reading →