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 →

cotechino e lenticchie – italian new year’s eve

New Year’s Eve, and that means cotechino sausage and lentils practically everywhere in Italy. The dish is not Sicilian at all, but then there’s no real Sicilian traditional food for the last day of the year, so like the rest of the country, they borrow this rich, fatty, salty oversize banger from Emilia Romagna. According to tradition, the cotechino represents good health, and the lentils money. While lentils could be seen to resemble coins, how Continue Reading →

patate “a sticchiu i parrinu” – potato, tomato and onion bake

How naughty can you get in the kitchen, I ask? Well, pretty naughty, I suppose, as the famous scene from 9½ Weeks proves. Nor should we forget all those famous aphrodisiacs, such as oysters, lobsters, chocolate and champagne. But despite this, let’s face it, unless you’re Mickey Rourke and Kim Basinger, although the kitchen is somewhere you may have a good time and even issue frequent sighs of pleasure, it’s not somewhere you’re likely to Continue Reading →

two-and-a-half ways with king trumpets – due ricette e mezzo per i funghi di ferla

Today’s little beauty is Pleurotus eryngii. It apparently also goes under the aliases of king trumpet mushroom, French horn mushroom, king oyster mushroom, king brown mushroom, boletus of the steppes, and trumpet royale. More names than your average international fraudster. Mycologists, it would seem, are even more unable to agree than taxonomists, who as we have seen, are themselves a pretty litigious bunch. In Italian, it’s cardoncello, but for me it has always and only Continue Reading →

zuppa di fave – fava bean soup

There’s something about autumn, with the nights drawing in, that makes me yearn for rustic food. Really rustic food, the sort of stuff I could imagine people eating in front of an open fire in some draughty cottage a couple of centuries ago. Yes, very Thomas Hardy, I know, very Woodlanders. Although if Thomas Hardy’s characters had eaten a bit more of today’s soup, maybe they wouldn’t have been so unbearably miserable the whole time. Continue Reading →