salsicce e carciofi – sausages and artichokes

The original plan was to do stuffed baked artichokes, but I have a nasty cold and just couldn’t muster the energy. I wanted something equally tasty but quicker and less fiddly. The solution was to use the ingredients for stuffed artichokes and to simply mix them together to create a one-dish meal. Same flavours, less work. Deconstructed rustic cooking. Could this be the birth of a whole new trend? The breadcrumbs in fact are not Continue Reading →

polpette di finocchietto selvatico – wild fennel rissoles

You may be forgiven for thinking I’ve turned pescetarian or something. Judging by recent posts, people may rightly be doubting my carnivorous credentials. If I didn’t get through so much bacon, sausages and rare steak I’d start to wonder myself. I think it must have something to do with the fact that on the whole, Sicilians (at least those living near the sea) don’t understand meat. This becomes abundantly clear whenever I go to the Continue Reading →

pane a caponata – sicilian bread salad

Before we start, no, this is not the same as the by now ubiquitous Tuscan panzanella. There are some crucial differences. For starters, although this is a perfect way to use up leftover bread, it is also good enough to merit buying a decent loaf on purpose. Panzanella quite frankly isn’t. Above all, here the bread is toasted and left in chunks, adding not only extra texture, but extra flavour. This detail also puts it Continue Reading →

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 →

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 →