zuppa di vongole e fagioli – bean and clam soup

First things first: this is surprisingly delicious. Surprisingly for my children, anyway, whose initial reaction was: “What on earth is that? Beans with clams? What possessed you to do such a thing?”. Within seconds, they had fallen silent, apart from the sound of soup being greedily slurped up. I rest my case; try it. This is not specifically a Sicilian dish, but both legumes and clams are harvested/caught here, so I’m appropriating it. It is Continue Reading →

pasta con tonno fresco, mandorle, capperi e pomodori – pasta with fresh tuna, almonds, capers and tomatoes

Tuna again, but no excuses. Point is, fishing it is often banned, to maintain stocks and preserve the species (at least that’s the official line). I hope it works. I for one am quite happy not to find tuna every time I want it if it means I can continue to enjoy it in the future. Ironic really, since I imagine it’s always available back in the UK (at a price), where it is not Continue Reading →

tonno lesso con salsa verde – boiled tuna with mint and parsley sauce

My journey through tuna has come full circle (yes, I have taken a journey through tuna; no, I haven’t sought psychiatric help yet). Like most of us, I first discovered this king of fish boiled and tinned, and indeed there was fat chance of getting it any other way in England at the time. But here I can get it fresh and locally caught, and have taken full advantage of the fact, having run the Continue Reading →

tonno al forno con capperi e pomodori – baked tuna with tomatoes and capers

This is a typical way of cooking tuna on the island of Favignana, off Sicily’s west coast. We find the classic island supporting act (the combination of capers, olives, tomatoes and oregano) alongside the omnipresent west coast breadcrumb coating. Breadcrumbs are of course popular everywhere in Sicily, but in western Sicily are often found as a topping, whereas in the eastern part of the island they are used more often as a stuffing, or to Continue Reading →

acciughe – anchovies

Anchovies: you either love ‘em or you hate ‘em, especially in their preserved form – salted or in oil, in which they are only for aficionados of hard-core fishiness. I love them, but I must admit, it took a few years to acquire the taste. They’re one of the first things you’re likely to come across in Messina, part of the traditional focaccia topping of tomatoes, tuma cheese and escarole. Their salty, primeval kick can Continue Reading →

alalunga fritta con salmoriglio alla menta – fried albacore with lemon and mint dressing

I have been accused by some ­­– well, practically everybody who has had the dubious pleasure of food shopping in my company – of striking the fear of God into market traders. I have been told that they look on anxiously as I prod, sniff and scrutinise their produce, like the lead-up to one of those “The man from del Monte says ‘yes’” moments. Except of course that I don’t always say yes. And apparently Continue Reading →

pescespada al forno con limone – baked swordfish with lemon

It was hot, unbearably so. The idea of slaving over a hot stove was unthinkable. I had some thick slices of swordfish and little else apart from the Sicilian essentials I always have lying around – lemons, tomatoes, capers and herbs. And so I did something that I really shouldn’t have: I invented something. This, of course, is when Sicilians’ hackles start to rise. There are certain things that can be done. Some foodstuffs, such Continue Reading →