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Food and wine in Sicily

Classic and less-known recipes from Sicily

One of the most important aspects of Sicilian cuisine is the quality of the ingredients used. Sicily, like many other areas of Italy, still follows the seasons very closely. It is virtually impossible, for example, to find non-seasonal fruit or vegetables in most greengrocer's. The result is that ingredients are fresh, often produced in Sicily (or Italy) and are wonderfully fragrant and tasty. So, to get the best out of our recipes you should buy fresh, in-season ingredients where possible.

All our recipes are local, some invented by us (here in Palermo), and others passed on to us by chefs or the owners of our properties.

 Here are some for you to sample:

And if you're really into your food, why not also take a look at our pages on Sicilian food, Sicilian wine and Eating in Sicily. Or if you'd like to have some of these delicious recipes cooked for you whilst at your villa, look at how to hire an in-house cook?


We're sure you know your spaghetti from your penne, but our infographic 'The Truth About Pasta' has lots of facts we'll bet you've never heard!


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Antipasti and snacks

Sicilian Frittella

(Fava beans, peas and artichokes)

Ingredients (serves 6)
500g fresh peas
800g fresh fava beans
6 artichokes
salt and pepper
olive oil
1tbsp white wine vinegar
A handful of mint
A few shallots

Clean the artichokes and take off any hard leaves or spikey parts. Cut them into bits and soak them in water and lemon juice for about 15 minutes. Shell the peas and the fava beans.
Lightly fry the chopped shallots in olive oil until soft and add the artichokes, the peas, the fava beans and a glass of water. Add salt and pepper to taste and cover with a lid. Cook on a low flame for about half an hour, stirring every 5 minutes and ensuring there is always some liquid (if necessary add more water). Chop the mint and soak in a drop of warm water. Add the vinegar to the mint, stir well and add to the artichokes, peas and fava beans and cook for another couple of minutes. By the end of cooking the liquid should have almost disappeared though frittella should not be dry. Before serving add a good dribble of extra virgin olive oil and, optionally, a few wafer thin slices of Parmesan.

Arancinette all'Olmo

(Don Arcangelo all'Olmo's mini fried rice-balls)

Ingredients (serves 10-12)
500gr risotto rice
200ml milk
1 vegetable stock cube
1 sachet of saffron
1 pinch of cinnamon
50gr butter
50gr grated Parmesan cheese
100gr cubed ham
100gr cubed Provola or other tasty cheese
250gr durum wheat flour
3 beaten eggs with a drop of milk
300gr breadcrumbs
Vegetable oil

For the thick, elastic, binding béchamel sauce
25gr butter
25gr 00 flour
200ml milk
1 pinch of salt

For the ‘regular’ béchamel
25gr butter
25gr 00 flour
250ml milk
A grating of nutmeg
1 pinch of salt

In a large pan, bring 1 litre of salted water and 200ml of milk to the boil. Add the 500gr of rice and the vegetable stock cube. Mix frequently and once the rice is half cooked add the saffron. When the rice is fully cooked, slightly al dente and dry, add the cinnamon, 50g of butter and the same quantity of grated Parmesan cheese. Leave to cool.

While the rice is cooling, prepare a white elastic béchamel sauce that will bind the rice together. Melt 50gr of butter, add 25gr of flour and mix well to create a thick roux. Take off the heat and add 200gr of milk little by little stirring constantly. Add a pinch of salt and then put back on the heat, stirring until it thickens to a sticky, elastic paste. Then add to the rice, mix well and lay the mixture on a large plate to cool

While waiting for the rice mixture to cool, prepare a ‘regular’ béchamel sauce with 25gr of butter, 25gr of flour, 250ml of milk, a grating of nutmeg and a pinch of salt. Follow the same method used for the elastic binding sauce and when ready, add the cubes of ham and Provola cheese.

When the rice is cool, take a small flat palmful, add a little of the ham and Provala béchamel mix and then fold the rice around it, adding a little more rice to fully enclose the filling. Put the rice balls on a plate and when all are done, place in the fridge to cool.

When you are ready to fry the arancini (which should now be cold), take out of the fridge and roll them, first in flour, then in a beaten egg and milk mix and finally in breadcrumbs.

Heat some vegetable oil in a large pan and add the arancini one by one. Don’t add too many at one time as this will bring down the temperature of the oil. When golden brown, remove and place on grease-proof paper. Serve hot.

Insalata all'Eoliana

(Aeolian summer salad)

Ingredients (serves 4)

200g cherry tomatoes, halved
1 Tropea or other red onion
a small handful of capers
8 slices of lightly toasted bread
1 clove of garlic (crushed or chopped very finely)
8 anchovy fillets chopped into largish pieces
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

While toasting the bread (thickish slices), halve the cherry tomatoes, crush or finely chop the garlic and chop the anchovy fillets into large pieces. Cut the onion into thin rings and then place all the ingredients together in a bowl. Add some olive oil, season with salt and pepper and mix well. 

When the bread is toasted put onto 4 plates, dribble with olive oil, add a few spoonfulls of salad on top and serve.

Warm Sicilian octopus salad

Ingredients (serves 4-6 people)

1kg octopus
750g potatoes in small cubes
1 stick chopped small
1 carrots julienne
75gr stoned green and black olives
1 tbsp of white wine vinegar
Juice of 3 lemons
Salt and pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
Finely chopped chili pepper (optional)

First, ask you fishmonger to prepare the octopus so that it’s ready for cooking. Every chef has his own way of tenderizing an octopus before cooking but one simple way is to dip it into boiling water several times for about 10 seconds each. Then place it in a large pan of boiling water (no salt!) and leave to cook for for about 1 hr or until you can easily prick it with a fork. Leave to cool in the water and then drain and chop into pieces of about an inch long.

While the octopus is cooling, bring another pan of water to the boil, add a teaspoon of white wine vinegar, salt well and add the cubed potatoes. When ready, drain and leave.

In the meantime, get a large mixing bowl and add several tablespoons of olive oil, a good pinch of salt, some chopped parsley, some black pepper and a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice. Mix well. Here you can add the finely chopped chili if you want a little kick.

Put the octopus back into a pan of hot water to warm up for a minute or two, drain well and add to the mixing bowl along with the potatoes.

Then add the olives, the carrot and the celery and mix well. Spoon onto a serving dish, pour any extra olive oil mixture on top, add a little more chopped parsley and one final dribble of olive. Serve with a good glass of white Inzolia wine!


Indian-Sicilian calamari fritti

An Indian-Sicilian recipe of squid in a light, delicately spiced batter, inspired by the visit of a group of London's finest Indian chefs (from Michelin-starred Tamarind, Zaika and the Bombay Brasserie) cooking with Sicilian ingredients, each dish being served with one of Planeta's wines.

Ingredients (serves 4)
For the batter:
120g flour
1.5 tsps baking powder
135ml ice-cold soda water
1 pinch chilli powder
1 small tuft of coriander, finely chopped
1 pinch of powdered cumin

For the marinade:
200gr squid chopped into rings and smallish pieces
1 small red chilli, finely chopped
1 small handful of coriander, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp of fresh grated ginger, finely chopped
The juice of 1 lime
2tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Clean and chop the squid into rings and smallish pieces. Place in a bowl and add all the marinade ingredients. Mix well and place in the fridge for about an hour. After about 50 minutes, start making your batter, mixing all the ingredients into a bowl until you have a nice creamy liquid that is not too dense, but nice and cold.

Take the squid out of its marinade and place in the batter. Heat some sunflower oil in a deep pan (it should be about 1/3 full). When the oil is piping hot, start adding the pieces of battered squid, 4/5 at a time. As soon as they start to turn golden brown, take out and place on absorbent kitchen roll. Sprinkle with sea salt and serve immediately.

N'Zalata cu l'Acqua

(Raw king prawn salad)

Ingredients (serves 3/4)
For the sauce: 
100g green tomatoes
10g fennel
20g celery
20g cucmber
1g fresh oregano
1g fresh mint
4g fresh basil
10g boiled potatoes
2g sherry vinegar
1g balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper
60g extra virgin olive oil
Mineral water 

For the salad: 
12 red king prawns
80g boiled potatoes cubed
80g green beans
80g cherry tomatoes
80g cucumber
Salt and pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
Edible flowers

Blend the ingredients for the sauce, strain and return to the fridge.

Dice the salad vegetables and chop the peeled prawns into small cubes; add olive oil, season, mix well and then place the mixture in a smallish doughnut-shaped mould (something with a hole in the middle). Leave for a few minutes and then release the contents from the mould, creating a colourful circle with a central hole.

Fill the hole some of the chilled sauce, decorate with flowers, croutons and a dribble of extra virgin olive oil.

This recipe was kindly supplied by Chef Angelo at La Foresteria. 


Deep-fried rice balls filled with meat sauce or mozzarella, ham and butter.

Ingredients for 10 “arancini”
400g of arborio rice
1 sachet of saffron
A few spoonfuls of thick bolognese sauce with peas (prepared separately) OR a 200g mix of mozzarella, ham and butter chopped together.
100g grated Parmesan cheese
2 egg
300g breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper
A little olive oil
Vegetable oil for frying

Cook the rice with the saffron in salted water until soft and yellow. Drain well and add a dribble of olive oil to prevent the rice sticking too much. Then add the grated cheese, some freshly ground black pepper and mix well. Leave to cool. In the meantime, beat and season the eggs. When the rice is cool, wet one hand and spread some rice (about 2cm thick) on it. Add a dollop of Bolognese sauce (or the mozzarella, ham and butter mix) in the middle and close the rice into a little ball about the size of a small orange, making sure the contents stay inside. When all 10 rice balls are ready, roll them one by one in the egg and then in the breadcrumbs. Fry (preferably deep fry) in hot oil until golden brown and place on kitchen roll to remove any excess oil. Serve while hot and crunchy.

Insalata alla Palermitana

(Salad, Palermo style)

Ingredients (serves 4)
100g waxy potatoes
100g green beans
4 anchovy fillets
100g tomatoes
Extra tasty olive oil
1 large onion
salt and peppers
A dash of white wine vinegar

Place the onion in its skin on a baking tray and put in a hot oven for about 20-30 minutes until it becomes slightly caramlised and soft. Boil the potatoes and the green beans in salted water, drain and leave to cool. Chop up the tomatoes and add to a large salad bowl. Then, cube the potatoes and add to the tomatoes along with the green beans. Chop up your very soft onion and add the anchovy fillets, bashing down into small pieces. Add a good lashing of excellent olive oil and a dash of white wine vinegar. Salt and pepper to taste and serve cool, either as an antipasti, as a side dish or as a main second.

Polpette di broccoli

(Cauliflower fritters)

Ingredients (serves 4)
400g cauliflower
1 egg
2 anchovy fillets
70gr Parmesan cheese
1 tbs pine kernels
1 tbs raisins
30g breadcrumbs
olive oil
salt and pepper

Cook the cauliflower in slightly salted water until soft and drain well. After draining you could leave on a very low flame to evaporate any excess liquid. When dry, place in a mixing bowl and squash into a pulp with a fork. Add the other ingredients and mix well until you have a firm mixture.

Heat a little olive oil in a frying pan and shape the mixture into flattish balls. When the oil is hot fry the cauliflower polpette until golden brown on both sides. place on kitchen roll to remove any excess oil and serve as a mouth-watering starter.

Purée di zucchini con pancetta croccante

(Courgette puree with crispy smoky bacon)

Ingredients (serves 4)
6 good sized courgettes
4 rashers of smoky bacon or pancetta
3 cloves of garlic
A sprinkling of dried chilli
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

Slice the courgettes fairly thinly and chop the garlic. Heat a little olive oil in a pan and add the courgettes the garlic and the chilli. Stir well, season and cover, letting the courgettes cook slowly in their own juices on a low flame (they shouldn’t fry). When soft, after about 25-30 minutes, place the contents in a food mixer and whizz until you have a thick liquid with small pieces of courgette still visible. In the meantime fry the bacon until crispy. Serve the purée di zucchini in small individual pots with a rasher of bacon for garnish.


    (Chick-pea fritters)

     Ingredients (serves 4)
    200g of chick-pea flour
    1/2 litre of cold water
    olive oil

    Mix the chick-pea flour into the water, making sure there are no lumps. Add a pinch of salt or two and a small clump of finely chopped parsley. Mix well and then start to heat on a low flame until the mixture turns into a thick, almost solid mass. Then, pour the mixture into a baking tray and leave to cool. The thickness should be about 3-4 mm.

    Once the mixture has totally cooled and turned to a soft solid state, cut into rectangles about 7cm x 4cm. Heat a decent amount of extra virgin olive oil in a frying pan, add a little salt and then fry your panelle rectangles until golden brown. Place on kitchen roll to get rid of any excess oil and then put a few in a crusty bread roll. Add some fresh lemon juice and eat while hot.

    Caponatina di Melanzane

    (Sicilian aubergine relish)

    © From "Italia" by Antonio Carluccio

    Reproduced with kind permission of the author and his publisher, Quadrille.

    This is one of Sicily’s most popular and versatile aubergine dishes. You can eat it with bread, as part of an antipasto, or as a side dish with hot or cold meats or fish. This is the original recipe from Palermo. A caponatina is a “small” caponata.

    Ingredients (Serves 4-6)
    600g meaty aubergines
    6-8 tbsp olive oil
    1 large onion, sliced
    2 celery hearts (inner heads only), cut into little chunks
    500g ripe tomatoes, chopped
    100g pitted green olives
    60g salted capers, rinsed
    100g slivered almonds
    2 ripe but firm pears, cored, peeled and sliced
    ½ tsp ground cinnamon
    ½ teaspoon ground cloves
    50g caster sugar
    50ml white wine vinegar

    Ideally you want the pale violet type of aubergine, without too many seeds. Cut the aubergines into cubes the size of a walnut. Immerse in salted water for 1 hour, then drain, squeezing the water out. Pat the aubergine cubes dry.

    Heat about 6 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil in a sauté pan and fry the aubergine cubes until golden. Scoop them out with a slotted spoon and set aside. Adding more oil to the pan if necessary, fry the onion until soft, then fry all the other ingredients, apart from the sugar and vinegar. Simmer for about 20 minutes.

    Add the aubergines to the mixture with the sugar and wine vinegar. Taste for salt and cook for another 10-15 minutes. Caponata can be eaten warm but it is also delicious cold.

     © From "Italia" by Antonio Carluccio. Reproduced with kind permission of the author and his publisher, Quadrille.

    Sicilian Summer Salad

    Ingredients (serves 4)

    300g Pachino or other cherry tomatoes
    a handful of capers
    a handful of olives cut into pieces
    a small onion
    a few anchovy fillets
    200g green beans
    fresh basil
    salt and pepper
    extra virgin olive oil
    lemon juice

    Chop the tomatoes, the olives, the onion, the anchovies and the green beans (pre-boiled). Put into a bowl with the capers and the basil and mix well. Add a splash of olive oil, the juice of half a lemon, salt and pepper. Serve under a vine covered pergola with fresh crusty white bread and a chilled bottle of white.

    Schiacciata alla Siciliana

    Ingredients (serves 4)

    For the bread
    1kg of durum wheat flour
    50gr of beer yeast
    Half a glass of warm water
    A little extra virgin olive oil
    Salt and pepper

    For the filling

    The beauty of the schiacciata is that you can fill it with whatever takes your fancy or whatever you have in the fridge! However, our recommendation is sausage meat mixed with onions, garlic, a little tomato sauce and herbs.

    Dissolve the yeast in a little warm water and add to the flour. Mix into a dough, adding a little water until you get a firm consistency. Sprinkle with flour and leave under a tea towel to rise for about 1 hour.
    After the dough has risen, add a little olive oil and knead again until the oil is totally absorbed.
    Roll out the dough into several round, 1cm-thick pieces and add your preferred filling. Once the filling is in place, roll over the dough to obtain a calzone like shape and place in a very hot oven for about 30 minutes. Serve hot.

    Aubergine Caponata

    Ingredients (serves 4)

    4 medium size aubergines
    200 g of peeled mature tomatoes
    1 largish onion
    2 sticks of celery
    100 g of pitted green olives
    100 g of capers
    extra virgin olive oil
    white vinegar
    salt and pepper

    Cube the eggplants into smallish chunks and fry in a little olive oil until brown. Lay them in kitchen paper so as to drain off as much oil as possible. Meanwhile, after peeling, chop the tomatoes into small pieces (alternatively you can use canned tomatoes). Finely chop the onion, do the same with the 2 sticks of celery and cut olives in half.

    Heat some extra virgin olive oil in a thick-bottomed pan and sauté the onions and the celery. When soft add the tomatoes and simmer slowly for 15 minutes or so. When the tomato sauce is more or less smooth (though lumps are fine), add the aubergine, the olives and the capers (if these are salted ones, wash in a sieve to get rid of the salt).

    Stir well and then add a tablespoon of olive oil, sugar and vinegar and a pinch of salt and pepper. Once more, mix well and then leave to simmer with a lid on a very low flame, stirring occasionally.

    After 40 minutes or so, take off the heat and when the pan is cool, place in the fridge for a couple of hours before eating.

    Serve with crusty white bread, cheese and a glass of fruity white wine.

Pasta dishes, soups and cous-cous

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Spaghetti con pesto di capperi

(Spaghetti with caper pesto)

Ingredients (serves 4)

500gr capers in salt
2 cloves garlic
A bunch of parsley
5 leaves basil
5 leaves mint
50g pine kernels
Extra virgin olive oil (added little by little)
600g spaghetti

Soak the capers over night or at least for a few hours. Then rinse and dry well. Add all the ingredients to a mortar and work them with a pestle until you obtain a creamy thick liquid. It is a good idea to add the olive oil little by little. Taste and season with salt if necessary. Cook your pasta in boiling salted water and when al dente drain, leaving a little water left over to thin the pesto a little if necessary. Add the pesto to the pasta and mix well. Then serve with a little parmesan cheese on top.


Spaghetti con ragù di triglie

(Spaghetti with red mullet sauce)

Ingredients (serves 4)

For the fish stock
The heads and bones of the red mullet
1 litre water
3 glasses of white wine
A few slices fennel
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper

For the sauce
10 red mullet
400g spaghetti
Half a red onion, chopped finely
2 small anchovy fillets (the ones under oil)
50g cherry or datterini tomatoes, halved
50g crushed, toasted almonds
1/2 litre fish stock 
1 clove garlic, crushed
A pinch of dried chilli flakes
Extra virgin olive oil
A handful of parsley, chopped 
Salt and pepper

Ask your fishmonger to fillet the red mullet and to put the heads and bones in a separate bag. To make your stock, simply put all the ingredients in a pan and bring to a gentle simmer. Leave for about an hour until the quantity has halved. Taste, season with salt and pepper if necessary and cook for a few minutes more. Then strain the stock making sure no bones get through.

Put half the stock in your pasta pan and top up with enough water in which to cook the spaghetti.

Now it's time to make the sauce! Put the chopped onion and the anchovy fillets to a large frying pan and gently fry until the onion is soft and the anchovies have melted. Add the garlic and the chilli and cook for another couple of minutes. Then add the tomatoes and a good ladle or two of your fish stock. At this point you can bring your pasta water to a boil and start cooking the spaghetti. When the tomatoes begin to break down, add the red mullet fillets and cook on a low flame for about 10 minutes. Break them up with a fork and mix well. You should now have a fairly thick sauce with chunks of red mullet. Taste and season with salt and pepper if necessary. Drain your pasta (when al dente), keeping a little bit of the water to one side. Add the spaghetti to the frying pan with the sauce, add the chopped parsley and toss well. If necessary add a little pasta water to loosen the sauce. Serve with a sprinkling of the toasted crushed almonds and a good white wine.


Pasta alla Norma

Ingredients (serves 4 people)
2 large aubergines
3 tins chopped tomatoes
1 onion, chopped finely
1 clove garlic, chopped finely
A bunch of basil
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
80g grated ricotta salata (salted ricotta cheese)
400g rigatoni or, if you can get them, fresh caserecce or maccheroncini

Cut the aubergines into small cubes and fry until golden brown in olive oil. Take out and place on kitchen paper to remove some of the oil. Sprinkle with a little salt.

Finely chop the onion and the garlic and gently sweat in some olive oil. Once the onion is soft, add the tinned tomatoes, tear in some of the basil and season to taste. Stir well and leave to cook slowly with a lid on for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

When the sauce is almost ready, cook your pasta al dente, drain and add to the tomato sauce. Mix well and place in a serving bowl. Top with the chunks of aubergine and a few torn basil leaves and take to the table with another bowl of grated salted ricotta cheese. Buon appetito!


Risotto con gamberi e zucchini

(Prawn and courgette risotto)

Ingredients (serves 4 people)
150g whole prawns
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 courgettes, cubed
1 small onion, chopped
1 small chili pepper chopped finely
1 handful of parsley
1 lemon zested
700ml fish stock (see below)
300g risotto rice (e.g. cannaroli)
A good knob of butter
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

First prepare your stock - shell your prawns, placing the prawns on a plate for later and the shells, heads, etc. in a sieve. Wash the shells etc. under running water and then place in a pan half a litre of cold water and 200ml white wine. Add half a carrot, a leg of celery, two cloves of garlic, some black pepper corns and a little parsley. Bring to a boil and leave to simmer gently for about an hour, topping up with water occasionally (during this time you can prep your other ingredients). When nearly ready, taste and adjust the seasoning, adding some salt. Then strain and keep warm on a very low heat.

While the stock is bubbling away, prep your other ingredients, chopping the garlic, onion parsley and chilli, cubing the courgettes into approx. 1cm  squares and zesting a lemon. As your stock reaches a point of readiness, gently fry the onion, garlic, courgettes and chilli in some olive oil. When the onion is nice and soft, add the rice and mix well. Then start adding the hot stock, little by little: one ladle at a time, stirring the rice constantly until most liquid is absorbed before adding the next ladle of stock. This process should take around 20 minutes, but you should keep tasting the rice intermittently. When it is becoming creamy but al dente add the prawns, the lemon zest and the chopped parsley. Mix well, adjust the seasoning if necessary, add the knob of butter, cover with a lid and take off the heat. At this point the butter will melt into the rice, making it creamy and the prawns will cook in the heat of the rice. After a few minutes, take off the lid, mix well once more and serve, sprinkling a little more chopped parsley over each dish.


Zuppa di lenticchie Siciliana

(Sicilian lentil soup)

Ingredients (serves 4 people)
250g dried lentils
50g smoky bacon, diced small
1 onion, chopped
1 small chili pepper chopped finely
2 cloves of garlic
1 large carrot, diced small
A few sprigs of wild fennel, chopped
A bouquet garni of 1 sage leaf and 1 bay leaf rolled around a small sprig of rosemary and tied with string
1 glass red wine
500ml beef stock
150g ditalini or other small pasta
A squirt of tomato concentrate
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

Gently fry the bacon in a little olive oil and then add the chopped onion, garlic, diced carrot and chilli pepper. When the onion is soft, add a glass of red wine. Reduce and burn off the alcohol. Stir and add the hot beef stock. Rinse the dried lentils well and add to the pot, along with the fennel, the bouquet garni and the tomato concentrate. Season, bring to a gentle simmer and leave to cook for about 30 minutes. If after this time you feel it needs more liquid, add a little more stock. Bring to a boil and add the ditalini pasta. Cook until the pasta is al dente and serve, adding a good dribble of extra virgin olive oil.


Zuppa Primaverile

(Sicilian Spring soup)

Ingredients (serves 4 people)
50g smoky bacon, diced small
1 onion, chopped
1 chili pepper
3 cloves of garlic
2 carrots, diced small
1 large potato, diced small
200g garden peas
200g fava beans
1 glass white wine
500ml chicken stock
500ml chicken stock
A squirt of tomato concentrate
Extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp white wine vinegar
A small sprig of mint, chopped
Salt and pepper

Gently fry the bacon in a little olive oil and then add the chopped onion, garlic and chilli pepper. When the onion is soft, add a glass of white wine. Reduce and burn off the alcohol and add the potato and carrot, both diced into small pieces. Stir well and then add the chicken stock. Cook at a gentle boil until the carrots are cooked, adding some tomato concentrate to the mix and seasoning to taste. Add the peas, the fava beans, the vinegar and the chopped mint and leave for a few minutes until the fava beans are cooked. Serve with a dribble of extra virgin olive oil on top and a piece of crusty white bread.

Smashing pumpkin pasta

Ingredients (serves 4 people)

400g pasta shells
600g pumpkin, diced small
1 small white onion, finely chopped
1 clove of garlic
1 large glass of chicken stock
A couple of pinches of nutmeg
1 small sprig of rosemary
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and white pepper
Fresh ricotta cheese

Put two or three tbsps of olive oil in a large pan and add the clove of garlic whole. Let this fry gently for a couple of minutes and then remove. Add the finely chopped onion and the diced pumpkin, the sprig of rosemary (to be removed later) and leave to fry gently. After a few minutes, when the onion is nice and soft, add the cup of chicken stock and leave to simmer and reduce. When the pumpkin becomes soft, gently squash a little with a fork. As the liquid reduces, taste and season with salt and white pepper. Take out the rosemary sprig, add the nut meg and stir well. At the end you should have a little liquid and soft, slightly squashed but not mashed pumpkin.
While the pasta shells are cooking, put your ricotta cheese in a bowl with a couple of tsps of warm water. Mix well until smooth and season if necessary. When the pasta shells are al dente, drain well and add to the pan with your pumpkin sauce, mixing well. Put into a serving dish, dribble with some excellent olive oil. When everyone has been served, invite your guests to add a dollop or two of ricotta cheese.

Ravioli con sugo di maiale alla Modicana

(Ravioli with a tomato and pork sauce -  a speciality of Modica)

Ingredients (serves 4 people)
For the ravioli
400gr plain flour
4 eggs
400gr fresh ricotta cheese
a small bunch of marjoram, chopped
Salt and pepper

The pork sauce
100gr pork chopped into small pieces
200gr pork sausage (preferably with fennel seeds)
300gr tomato extract
1 medium onion
1 glass red wine
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

The sauce: chop the onion and fry gently in a large pan, traditionally a terracotta casseruole dish. When the onion is nice and soft, add the pork and the sausage. Brown these and then add the red wine. When the alcohol is burned off, add the tomato extract and a glass or two of warm water. Mix well, cover and leave to cook for about 3 hours on a low heat. Check occasionally and add water if necessary, though your sauce should be quick thick.

After the sauce has been bubbling away for a couple of hours, you can make your ravioli (unless you''ve bought them!). First make a well of flour and break the eggs into the middle. Season with a little salt and pepper and then start mixing until you have a homogeneous, pliable dough. Work it well, then wrap in clingfilm and place in the fridge for between half and hour and an hour. While this is in the fridge, mix the ricotta with a little chopped marjoram and, if you like, a little lemon zest. Taste, and season if you think necessary Take out the dough, lay on a floured surface and start rolling out in a rectangular shape, until it is a few mm thick.Then, on half of the dough, place spoonfulls of the ricotta mix, leaving a couple of centimetres between each. You should aim to have about 7-8 ravioli per person. Then pick up the other half of the pasta and gently drape on top of the part with the ricotta mix. Press around the mix, to get out any air and make sure the two layers of pasta connect well. When you are happy with this, take a pasta cutter and cut the pasta into  individual ravioli. Dust with flour so they don't stick.

The ravioli making should ideally coincide with the end of the sauce's cooking (after 3 hours). To cook the ravioli, simply add to a pan of boiling salted water. When they float to the top (probably after a minute or two) they are ready. Carefully drain and plate up. Then add a piece of sausage and a spoonful or two of the thick tomato-pork sauce. Sprinkle with a little Parmesan or other tasty cheese and watch the dreamy faces of your guests!


Pasta con le sarde... a mare!

(Pasta with the sardines at sea = pasta without sardines!)

Ingredients (serves 4)
400gr thick spaghetti
2 tins chopped tomatoes
1 bunch of wild fennel
30gr raisins
30gr pine kernels
2 cloves of garlic
100gr tomato concentrate
70gr breadcrumbs
Extra virgin olive oil

First wash and then boil the wild fennel until soft. When cooked, take out of the water (but keep the water for the pasta) and put aside for later. Then, in small frying pan, toast the pine kernels until the take on a little colour and remove.
In another, larger frying pan, heat some olive oil and gently fry the chopped garlic. Add the fennel, the tomatoes, the tomato concentrate, the raisins and the pine kernels and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well and leave to cook, gently simmering, for about 10-15 minutes.
In the meantime, put your spaghetti on, and then take the small frying pan you used for toasting the pine kernels. Pour in the breadcrumbs and toast until golden brown. When the pasta is ready, add to the sauce and mix well. Serve and add a sprinkling of breadcrumbs on top.

Pasta with monkfish, mint and cherry tomatoes

400 gr fresh or dry pasta
200 gr monkfish cut into small cubes
10-15 fresh cherry tomatoes
6 spoons chopped fresh mint
An extra bunch of fresh garden mint leaves
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

Sautè the monkfish cubes in extra virgin olive oil with fresh mint leaves and ground pepper. When the fish cubes are golden brown, add the cherry tomatoes (previously halved) salt and keep tossing for another 3-4 minutes.

Cook the fresh past 'al dente', when ready add it to the monkfish sauce and sautè for 2 more minutes. Blend a bunch of fresh mint leaves with extra-virgin olive oil and pour it over the pasta. To finish the dish you can also sprinkle with crushed toasted almonds before serving.

This recipe is reproduced with kind permission of Katia Amore, expert Sicilian cook and owner of the loveSicily cookery school in Modica. If you're staying in a villa with The Thinking Traveller in the south-east, why not let us arrange a cookery lesson or two for you?

Penne con salsiccia, funghi e piselli

(Pasta with sausage, mushrooms and peas)

Ingredients (serves 4)
400g penne
100g sausage
8 mushrooms
50g peas
half an onion
2 cloves of garlic
a handful of chopped mint
1 large glass of white wine
Salt and pepper
Extra virgin olive oil

Skin the sausages and cut the meat into 1-inch long pieces. Heat a little olive oil in a large frying pan and brown the sausages. Then add the chopped onion and garlic and let soften. Add the sliced mushrooms, mix well and put a lid on, turning the heat down. When the mushrooms have shrunk, take off the lid, season with salt and pepper, turn up the heat a little and add the white wine. Let the alcohol burn off and then turn down the heat and cover again. Heat some water in a large pan and, when boiling, salt, and add the penne. Halfway through the cooking spoon a little water to the sausages and mushrooms and add the peas. Mix well again and cover. When the pasta is cooked, drain and add it to the frying pan with the sausages, mushrooms and peas. Add the chopped mint and mix well. Toss a little and then serve.


Spaghetti al pesto alla Pantesca

Ingredients (serves 4)
400g spaghetti
50g capers in salt from Pantelleria (or others)
4 stoned green olives
100g tuna fish
Salt and pepper
Extra virgin olive oil

Chop the capers, the olives and the tuna fish as finely as possible and place in a bowl. Add olive oil and salt and pepper and mix well until you have a rough paste. Put the spaghetti in boiling salted water and cook until al dente. Drain and mix with the pesto. Serve and finish with a dribble of excellent olive oil. Buon appettito! 


Pasta con gamberi e pesto di pistacchi

Ingredients (serves 4)
40g shelled pistacchios
70g fresh basil
8 cherry tomatoes chopped in half
2 cloves of garlic
Extra virgin olive oil
400g spaghetti or tagliatelle
200g shelled prawns
1 small glass of white wine
Salt and pepper

First make the pesto: add the pistacchios, basil, 1 clove of garlic, a pinch of salt and pepper and a good slug of olive oil to a blender and mix until you have a densish liquid. Small chunks of pistachio are good. Taste and add more ingredients if necessary.

Heat some water for the pasta and when boiling, salt and add the pasta. Then put a drop of olive oil and a clove of garlic in a large frying pan. When hot, take out the garlic and add the prawns. Gently fry, adding a little salt and splash of white wine which should evaporate. Briefly add the halve cherry tomatoes but make sure you don't cook the prawns for more than 2/3 minutes.

When the pasta is al dente, drain but keep a cup of pasta water aside. Add the pasta to the prawns and mix well. Then place in a large serving bowl, and add the pesto. Mix well again and, if too dry, add a couple of spoonfulls of the pasta water. Serve and enjoy with a glass of good dry white.

Spaghetti con i piselli e mentuccia

(Spaghetti with peas and fresh mint)

Ingredients (serves 4)
600g spaghetti, broken into 5cm-long pieces
400g fresh or frozen peas
2 cloves of garlic
1 small onion
1 glass of dry white wine
1 small chilli pepper
1 handful of fresh mint
2 tsps white wine vinegar
1 tsp sugar
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

Finely chop the onion, the garlic and the chilli pepper. Soften the onions in some olive oil and add the garlic and chilli. Add the wine and let the alcohol evaporate. Then add the peas and mix well.

In the meantime, heat some water for the pasta. When boiling, add salt and break the spaghetti into it. Add some of the pasta water to the peas, just enough to cover them. Season with salt and pepper and leave them to cook slowly, making sure there is always a couple of cm of liquid.

Chop the mint finely and place in a glass. Add the vinegar and the sugar and mix well and then stir into the peas.

When the spaghetti is cooked, add to the peas and mix well, making sure there is still plenty of liquid. Serve with a little grated Parmesan cheese.

It's also very tasty served cold on a hot summer's day.

Tagliatelle ai funghi dei Nebrodi

Ingredients (serves 4)
250g mushrooms (preferably Porcini!)
450g tagliatelle
1 clove of garlic
A handful of parsley
1 glass of dry white wine
1 small chilli pepper (optional)
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

Clean the mushrooms well, discarding the earthy feet and chop or slice into smallish chunks. Chop the garlic and gently fry in some extra virgin olive oil making sure that it doesn’t burn. Add the mushrooms, gently season with salt and pepper, stir and cover for a couple of minutes so they begin to cook in their own juices. Then, add the glass of wine, burn off the alcohol, reducing the liquid so that it just covers the pan’s bottom. Add the chopped parsley, mix well and you’re ready to serve! A good bottle of Nero d’Avola will accompany the mushrooms nicely!

Timballo Polizzano

Ingredients (serves 6)
500g risotto rice
400gr short pasta
750gr diced pork
125gr grated pecorino or other strong cheese
2 eggs
25grt butter
½ an onion
75gr tomato extract
250gr tomato sauce
50gr breadcrumbs
1 chilli pepper
250gr peas
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Finely chop the onion and gently fry in a large pan. Add a little water and the tomato extract and wait for the latter to dissolve. Then add the pork and the tomato sauce and leave to cook slowly for about 3 hours. In the meantime, cook the rice until al dente, leave to cool and then mix in the beaten eggs, just over half the cheese and a little of the meat sauce. Then cook the pasta, again al dente, and mix this with some more of the meat sauce, some of the remaining cheese and the pre-cooked peas. At the end add a little melted butter mixed with the last of the cheese, some breadcrumbs and the chilli pepper.
Grease a baking dish with a little butter and sprinkle lightly with breadcrumbs. Cover the bottom and the sides with a layer of rice (leaving enough for another layer later). Then alternate layers of pasta with layers of meat sauce until you nearly reach the top. This last layer should be the rice mixture. Finally, cover the whole with bread crumbs and a few knobs of butter and put in the oven, pre-heated to 250° for about 20 minutes.

Pasta con i tenerumi

Ingredients (serves 4)
150gr “long” courgette leaves (or spinach if not available)
150gr cubed courgette
4 cloves of garlic
1 tin of tomatoes
Chilli pepper
Salt + pepper
200gr broken spaghetti
A splash of white wine

Put some olive oil in a pan and had the whole cloves of garlic. When the oil is flavoured a little, add the chopped greens (wash them carefully first) and a chopped chilli pepper. Cover and leave for a few minutes. Then add enough water to cover along with a splash of white win. Bring to a boil, burn of the alcohol and cover to simmer for around 30 minutes. After this time, add the tomatoes, ensure that there is still enough liquid and leave to cook for another five minutes. Then break the spaghetti into lengths of about 7-8cm and add to the pot. Salt and pepper to taste and cook until the pasta is ready. Serve either straight away or leave to cool, chill in the fridge and eat cold... very refreshing in the hot summer months!

Pasta con le sarde

(Pasta with fresh sardines)

Ingredients (serves 4)

400g buccatini (or thick spaghetti if buccatini are not available)
400g cfresh sardines
2 handfuls of fresh fennel fronds
1 medium-sized onion
2 or 3 salted anchovies
30g sultanas
30g pine kernels
1 teaspoon of tomato concentrate
1 sachet of zaffron
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

    Wash the fennel and boil in salted water. After 10 minutes take it out and chop finely. Keep the water for cooking the pasta later. Chop the onion finely and sweat gently in some olive oil until soft – use a large frying pan with lid for this. Add the anchovies, the pine kernels and the tomato concentrate. When mixed well together add the sardines, the fennel and the sultanas. Splash with white wine, burn off the alcohol and break up the pieces of sardine and anchovies with a wooden spoon. Add the sachet of saffron, a little salt and pepper and leave to cook for about 10 minutes with the lid on. The sauce should not get too dry, but be moist. In the meantime, cook the pasta and, when ready, add to the sauce in the frying pan. Mix well and serve with a glass of chilled white wine.

    Spaghetti alla Glassa

    Ingredients (serves 4)

500gr spaghetti
200gr beef in small cubes
1 onion
3-4 cloves of garlic
2 largish potatoes
White wine
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

    Cut the beef and the potatoes into small cube and finely chop the onion and garlic. Heat the olive oil in a pan and gently saut the meat, onion and garlic. When the meat is sealed, add a glass or two of white wine. Burn off the alcohol and add the potatoes and a covering of boiling water. Season and cook slowly on a low flame until the potatoes are cooked.
    In the meantime, cook the spaghetti al dente and add to the sauce. Mix well and then serve along with a sprinkling of freshly grated parmesan cheese.

    Pasta c'anciova e muddica atturrata

    (Pasta with anchovies and toasted breadcrumbs)

Ingredients (serves 4)

600g spaghetti
150gr bread crumbs
a bottle of tomato passata
40gr of raisins
150gr anchovy fillets
2-3 cloves of garlic
a handful of parsley
a handful of pine kernels
chilli pepper
olive oil
salt and pepper 

    Gently fry your finely chopped garlic in abundant olive oil for a few minutes. Add the anchovy fillets and break them down into small pieces using a wooden spoon. Add the pine kernels, the raisins, some crushed chilli, some finely chopped parsley and the tomato passata. Mix thoroughly together, season, cover and cook slowly on a very low flame. In the meantime toast the breadcrumbs in a frying pan and get the pasta cooking.

    Once the spaghetti is ready, serve with the sauce and a sprinkling of toasted breadcrumbs.

    Pennette con la buccia di limone

    (Pennette with lemon zest)

    This recipe comes from a new Sicilian cookery book written by Natalia Ravidà a member of the distinguished olive oil-producing family based in Menfi, Sicily. Ravidà olive oil has won numerous awards and can be found in, amongst others, Harvey Nichols, Conran's and Waitrose. 

Ingredients (serves 4)

400g pennette, linguine or spaghetti
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 organic lemon
1/2 cup parmesan, freshly grated
Parsley, finely chopped
Freshly ground pepper

    Pare the zest of a lemon with a zester or vegetable peeler, avoiding the bitter white pith, and cut into fine shreds. Reserve a spoonful for final topping. In a medium sized serving bowl, marinate the olive oil with the lemon zest for at least 20 minutes. Cover with cling film to retain the aromas of the oil.
    Bring a large stockpot of water to boil. Add the salt and cook the pasta according to package instructions. In the meantime, mix the parmesan with the oil, freshly ground pepper, half the parsley and three spoonfuls of cooking water.

    Drain the pasta well al dente, pour onto serving bowl and mix thoroughly with the oil and lemon zest until well combined. Add a spoonful of pasta water if necessary to dilute sauce further to a creamy consistency. Sprinkle with remaining parsley, lemon zest and serve immediately with more parmigiano on the side.

    Copyright Recipe and photos taken from ‘Seasons of Sicily’ by Natalia Ravidà and published by New Holland were used with the kind permission of the author. Available in Australia, Great Britain and South Africa.

    Pesto alla Trapanese

(Pesto Trapani style)

Ingredients (serves 4)
600g of short pasta
6 cloves of garlic
6 ripe tomatoes
100g almonds
a handful of fresh basil
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper 

    Using a pestle and mortar (or food mixer) pound the basil and the garlic until you have a paste. Add the tomatoes chopped into small cubes along with the almonds, a splash of olive oil and salt and pepper. Keep pounding (or mixing) until you have a thick creamy mix (lumps are no bad thing!).

    Once the pasta is ready either mix with the pesto straight away and serve, or let it cool, adding a drop of olive oil, add the pesto and leave in the fridge for half an hour. Serve with a crisp white wine.

    Zuppa di fave 

    (Broad bean soup)

Ingredients (serves 4)
600gr. fresh broad beans
a small onion
olive oil
salt and pepper 

    Place the broad beans in a pan with half a litre of water, the finely-chopped onion and a small amount of salt. Bring to the boil and then cook slowly with the lid on until the beans are soft and start opening (add water as they cook if necessary). At this point add freshly ground black pepper and put in the blender.
    Serve with crusty white bread and a dribble of top quality olive oil.

    Pasta Fasul

    (Pasta with beans)

Ingredients (serves 4)
300gr borlotti or cannellini beans
1 onion
1 stick of celery
1 carrot
1 tin of tomatoes
50gr of cubed bacon
About 1 litre of chicken stock
2 glasses of white wine
250gr of small pasta
A couple of leaves of sage
Salt and pepper 

    If using fresh beans you will need to soak them overnight. Tins of beans are also acceptable.
    Gently fry the finely chopped onion, carrot and celery with the bacon until this latter is well-cooked. Season and add the tomatoes and a couple of glasses of white wine. Boil off the alcohol and then add abundant chicken stock (you should have enough liquid to cook the pasta at the end). When this is all simmering gently add the beans and leave to cook on a slow flame with the lid on for at least an hour. At this point add the pasta and cook without lid until ready. The liquid should be quite thick by this point. Serve with crusty white bread, a glass of full-bodied red wine and a dribble of extra virgin olive oil on top.

    Spaghetti al Nero di Seppia

(Pasta with cuttlefish ink sauce)

Ingredients (serves 4)
500gr spaghetti
2 cleaned cuttlefish with their ink sacks
1 small shallot
2 tablespoons of tomato concentrate
olive oil
a little fresh chili pepper
1 glass of white wine
salt and pepper

    Finely chop the shallot and brown in olive oil. Cut the cuttlefish into thin strips and add to the shallot. Fry quickly, add the wine (burning off the alcohol) and then the tomato concentrate. Mix well, cover the pan and leave to cook slowly for about 20-25 minutes until the cuttlefish is relatively tender. Finally add the ink and a little crushed chili pepper and cook for a minute of two, adding the finely chopped parsley at the end.

    Mix the sauce with the spaghetti and serve with a good bottle of chilled white wine.

    Fish Couscous

Ingredients (serves 6)
1 kg of cous cous (you should be able to find packeted couscous with instructions)
2 kg. of fish suitable for making a stock (fish with no small bones, such as rock fish, grouper or dentex)
1 onion
1 tomato
1 clove of garlic
1 tuft of parsley
1 hot chili pepper or ½ teaspoon of harissa (a spicy Tunisian chili paste)
bay leaf

Cook the fish in about four litres of water, adding the chopped onion, the garlic, the parsley, a piece of chili pepper (or ½ teaspoon of harissa), the tomato and the salt. At the end of cooking (up to 2 hours simmering on a fairly low flame), pass the soup through a sieve and mix part of the liquid to the cooked couscous along with two or three bay leaves. Serve the couscous in bowls, adding the rest of the soup/fish to each portion.

    This recipe was kindly provided by Francesco Spadafora, owner of Virzi, winemaker and chef.

    Spaghetti con tonno e pomodorini

(Spaghetti with tuna and cherry tomatoes)

Ingredients (serves 4)
500gr spaghetti
250g fresh tuna steaks
3-4 cloves of garlic
60g cherry tomatoes
olive oil
a handful of fresh mint
1 glass of white wine
a dash of vinegar
1 teaspoon of sugar 

    Cube the tuna steaks and cut the cherry tomatoes in two. Heat some olive oil in a frying pan with some sea salt and gently fry the tuna cubes with the cherry tomatoes. Add the white wine, boil off the alcohol and do the same with the vinegar. Finely chop the mint and add along with the sugar. Leave to cook for another few minutes with a lid on. Add the sauce to the spaghetti and serve with a glass or two of chilled white wine.

    Spaghetti alle Vongole

(Spaghetti with clams)

Ingredients (serves 4)
300g of clams
3 cloves of garlic
olive oil
large glass of white wine
salt and pepper
600g spaghetti

Wash the clams carefully in running water. Heat some olive all in a large thick-bottomed frying pan (with lid) and add the chopped garlic for a moment. Then add the clams and cover until they open up. Throw in the wine and let the alcohol evaporate for a few minutes. Make sure not to cook off too much liquid, however (clam sauce without the juice is Not good). Add the finely chopped parsley, salt and pepper to your taste and add the sauce to your al dente spaghetti.
Serve with a chilled bottle of white wine.

    Pasta al Forno

    Christmas, a family picnic, a day on the beach, Easter, a birthday dinner, a Christening…….One dish that is brought out on all special occasions in Sicily, is Pasta al Forno. The dish is based on a type of pasta, anelletti (little rings), mixed with a tasty meat ragu’ and any other ingredients that take the cook’s fancy including mozzarella balls, fried cubes of aubergine, boiled eggs, and chunks of ham or mortadella . Once all mixed up with the pasta and topped with mozzarella slices, the whole lot is placed in an oven to meld together. Once the top layer is browned a little, it’s time to serve up for your guests to discover all the goodies inside.

Ingredients (Serves 6)
800g of anneletti or other short pasta (rigatoni are suitable)

For the ragu’
500g minced pork (for a traditional Sicilian ragu’) or beef
1 onion
4-5 cloves of garlic
1 leg of celery
1 largish carrot
Up to ½ a litre of red wine
A little tomato paste
1 large tin of plum tomatoes or bottle of passata
150g peas
Salt, pepper, oregano

Other additions: cubes of ham or mortadella, fried chunks of aubergine, hard-boiled eggs, mozzarellballs, etc. etc.. 

    Gently fry your finely chopped onion, garlic, celery, and carrot in olive oil until the onion becomes soft. Add some more olive oil, let it heat up and add the meat, stirring constantly until it is all sealed. Put a lid on and turn down the flame and let it cook for a while in the meat’s juices. After 10 minutes, turn up the heat and add the red wine, ensuring that all the alcohol is burned off. Turn heat down, cover and let the sauce simmer gently for half an hour.

    Add peas and tomatoes, salt and pepper and oregano and once again cover, leaving it to cook as long as possible (the more it cooks the better it is), stirring occasionally to ensure that the sauce is smooth.

    When the sauce is almost ready, heat a pan of salted water, add the pasta and cook until “al dente”. Do not overcook. Add the pasta to the ragu and mix well, adding the other extra additions such as mozzarella balls etc. Place the whole lot into a large baking tray, cover with slices of mozzarella and a drop of olive oil and place in a hot oven for 15 – 20 minutes.

    Pasta con pesce spada

    (Pasta with swordfish)

Ingredients (serves 4)
Penne or Fusilli (400grms)
pesce spada/sword fish (one slice 2cm thick, chopped into small cubes)
pomodoro pelato/peeled tomatoes (one tin of chopped tomatoes is fine if you don’t have fresh cherry tomatoes)
aglio/garlic (one clove)
cipolla/onion (one)
olio d’oliva/olive oil
vino bianco/white wine 

    Chop the garlic and onion and brown them in a frying pan on a moderate heat with some olive oil.Increase the flame, add the chopped sword fish and let it brown. Sprinkle with white wine and turn the flame down again. Add the tomatoes, salt, pepper and mint and let it all cook for a few minutes.

    Cook the pasta until "al dente", drain it and mix it with the sword fish in the frying pan. Serve hot, adding a few leaves of fresh mint and – if you desires - some small cubes of fried aubergines.

    It can be served as a main dish, followed by salad or vegetables and accompanied by cool white wine.

    Pasta “cui vroccoli arriminati”

    (Pasta with cauliflower)

Ingredients (serves 4 people)
600g pasta (traditionally bucatini – a type of thick spaghetti)
1 large cauliflower (about 1kg)
100g raisins
100g pine kernels
1 onion
6 anchovy fillets
1 small packet of saffron
olive oil
salt and pepper 

    Cut up the cauliflower and boil in salted water until soft. In the meantime, gently sauté the chopped onion in olive oil until brown and add the anchovies, the raisins and the pine kernels. Mix well and leave to cook gently for about 10 minutes until the cauliflower is ready. When cooked, add the cauliflower to the anchovies, onions etc, using a spoon with holes in so that the cauliflower water remains in the pan (you will need it to cook the pasta in). Add some of the cauliflower water and slightly mash the cauliflower, mixing it with the other ingredients. Add salt and pepper and leave to cook gently, making sure it doesn’t get too dry. If it does, add more cauliflower water. Just before the pasta is cooked, add the saffron and mix in thoroughly.
    Cook the pasta in the cauliflower water and drain when ready.
    Serve the cauliflower sauce on top of the pasta and sprinkle liberally with parmesan cheese, or another stronger cheese, such as ricotta salata.   


Meat and vegetarian main courses

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Salsiccia al vino

(Sausage with wine - a recipe from Planeta's "Sicilia: Cooking at Casa Planeta", written by Elisia Menduni, published by Electa Mondadori, English version available to purchase on Amazon and in specialist bookshops).

Ingredients (serves 6)
1kg homemade or good quality pork sausage
60g grapes
20g pine nuts
1 white onion, chopped
4 glasses Etna red wine DOC
1 tbsp honey
1 red pepper, sliced
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt to taste

In a large saucepan or frying pan, brown the onion in a tablespoon of oil for 2 minutes. Pour in the wine and let it bubble up until the alcohol evaporates. Add the sliced red pepper. Rinse the grapes. If you have the patience to, split each grape in half and remove the seeds. Put the grapes, salt, pine nuts and honey in the pan, as well as all the wine. Cook for 10 minutes. In a separate pan, brown the sausage over high heat to get rid of the fat. When the sausage is golden brown, transfer to the pan with the grape sauce and cook for a further 10 minutes.

Wine pairing: Etna Rosso DOC or Eruzione 1614 Nerello Mascalese DOC Sicilia


(Baked Mediterranean vegetables - an excellent side dish or vegetarian main, though meat eaters may like to add a little chopped bacon for extra depth.)

Ingredients (serves 4)
2 large aubergines
4 courgettes
2 peppers - 1 yellow, 1 red
1 onion
2 cloves of garlic
2 large potatoes
4 anchovy fillets
A handful of chopped parsley
Salt and pepper
Extra virgin olive oil

Cube all the vegetables, roughly chop the onion and keep the garlic whole in their jackets. Add all to an large oven dish along with the anchovy fillets. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and a good splash of olive oil and mix until all the vegetables are coated with olive oil. Place in a medium oven and cook for between 45 minutes and an hour, checking after about half an hour to check progress. Adjust the heat and cover with tin foil if necessary, as this is essentially a slow cooked dish. When all the vegetables are cooked, sprinkle with parsley, mix well and serve as a side dish or as a vegetarian main.


Vrocculi affucati

(Florets of purple or green cauliflower "drowned" in wine, cheese, anchovies and onion)

Ingredients (serves 4)
800g cauliflower cut into small florets
100g Pecorino or other flavoursome cheese in small cubes
80g anchovies, chopped
2 glasses of red wine
1 spring onion, finely chopped
Salt and pepper
Extra virgin olive oil

This is a layered dish: start with a good glug of olive oil on the bottom of a heavy, high pan. Sprinkle some onion, a little of the anchovies and a layer of broccoli. Season, add some chunks of cheese, some more anchovey and onion and repeat two or three times until all the broccoli has been used. Take a plate and push down on the layers, squashing and compacting them. Then add the red wine, another dash of olive oil and a topping of cheese if left over. Cover and cook on a very low heat until the broccoli is cooked. Serve as a side dish or as a vegetarian main.


Carne alla Pizzaiola

(Tender slices of roasted meat topped with tomato sauce, onions and cheese)

Ingredients (serves 4)
4 slices of beef
1 onion sliced finely
100g diced cacciocavallo, mozzarella, and/or Parmesan cheese
1 bottle of tomato passata, though home-made tomato sauce is better!
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

Coat the slices of beef with a little olive oil and place in a slightly oiled baking tray. Season with salt and pepper, sprinkle with the finely chopped onion and cover with the tomato passata. Then on top of this add the pieces of diced cheese. Put in a pre-heated oven for about 20-30 minutes until the cheese had begun to melt and the meat is thoroughly cooked.

Serve with crusty white bread and a bottle of full-bodied red wine.


Mini melanzane imbottite in sugo piccante

(Stuffed mini aubergines in a spicy tomato sauce)

Ingredients (serves 4)
8 tennis-ball sized aubergines
100g Parmesan cheese chopped into matchsticks
100g Parma ham chopped into small pieces
A bunch of fresh mint
4 anchovy fillets halved
1 clove of garlic
1 small glass of white wine
1/2 an onion chopped
1 bottle of tomato passata
1/2 chilli chopped finely
Salt and pepper
Olive oil

First get your tomato sauce on the go: chop the onion finely and gently sautee in some olive oil with the garlic (whole) and the chilli pepper. When soft and translucent, add the white wine, burn off the alcohol and reduce a little. Then add the tomatoes, season with salt and pepper and leave on a low flame with the lid on.

Now start preparing the aubergines. after washing, top and bottom them and then make a deep incision in the centre. Stuff each incision with a couple of bits of ham, half an anchovy fillet, a piece or two of Parmesan and a little mint. When ready, place the aubergines carefully at the centre of the tomato sauce, season the top of each one and replace the lid. Leave to cook for around 30 minutes, stirring the tomato sauce occasionally. Check with a toothpick that the aubergines are soft inside and get ready to serve!

Buon appettito!


Gatto' di patate con ragu

(Bolognese sauce in a mashed potato casing)

Ingredients (serves 4)
600g potatoes
300g mince meat
1 medium onion
4 cloves of garlic
1/2 stick of celery
2 carrots
100g frozen peas
1 large glass of red wine
1/2 bottle of tomato passata
Salt and pepper

Start by making the bolognese sauce: chop the onion, garlic, celery and dice the carrots and saute all together in a little olive oil. When soft, add the mince meat mix in well, making sure it seals all over and becomes as granular as possible. When browned add the wine, let the alcohol evaporate and the leave with a lid on to cook slowly in the juices. After half an hour or so add the tomato, mix well and season to taste with salt and pepper. Leave to cook gently for a couple of hours. The peas can go in at the last minute.

In the meantime boil the potatoes in salted water until cooked. Then  drain, add pepper, butter, chopped parsley and a drop of milk - be careful here - you do not want them to be creamy. 

Butter the sides and bottom of a baking tray and scatter with breadcrumbs. Then add a layer of mashed potato, which should also cover the sides. Then add the bolognese sauce, keeping back a little for later. Finally, put a top layer of potato over the sauce and seal. Add a few knobs of butter, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs and place in a hot oven until the top is golden brown and crispy.

When ready, sprinkle with a little parsley and serve with a little of the remaining bolognese sauce and a good glass of red wine. Buon appettito!


Petti d'anatra all'arancio Siciliano

(Duck served in a Sicilian orange sauce)

Ingredients (serves 4)
2 duck breasts
3 Sicilian oranges
1 Sicilian lemon
A tablesppon of red wine vinegar
A tablespoon of sugar
1 glass of beef stock
2 tablespoons of orange curacao
salt and pepper
olive oil

Place the duck breast fat-side down in a frying pan with a little olive oil and leave until all the fat has melted. Drain most of the melted fat off and turn the duck breasts, seasoning with a little salt and pepper. After about 5 minutes, take off the heat and put aside in a warm place.

In the meantime, peel the oranges and the lemon, being careful to remove as much of the pith as possible both from the peel and from the fruit inside. Squeeze the juice and cut the peel into thin julienne strips. Place the peel in boiling water and leave for a few minutes before taking out and rinsing in cold water.

To make the sauce, add a tablespoon of sugar to a pan with a tablespoon of red wine vinegar. Place on the heat and make a light, liquidy caramel (be careful not to let it caramelise too much). Add the glass of beef stock and the juice and when the mixture has warmed up add the orange and lemon peel and the orange curacao. Mix well, and leave to cook for a few minutes, seasoning if necessary. Slice the duck into thin strips and serve with a little sauce on top. The duck goes very well with green beans and roast potatoes.

This recipe was kindly passed on to us by the owners of La Favorita, a serviced villa with resident cook.


Agneddu a'missinisa - Messina-style Lamb

Ingredients (serves 4)

8-12 lamb chops
half a bottle of aromatic red wine
4 cloves of garlic
1 onion
a handful of stoned olives
a sprig of rosemary
a scattering of capers
2 carrots
salt and pepper

Rub the lamb chops in a little olive oil and put to marinate for a few hours in some red wine, garlic and a sprig of rosemary. Then, place the whole lot in an oven dish along with the onion, the olives, the capers and the carrots. place in a hot oven for around 15 minutes, then turn down the heat, salt and pepper to taste and cover and leave to cook gently for an hour an a half, checking occasionally to check the liquid doesn't dry out.

When you take it out of the oven the wine should have reduced and thickened and the lamb should be of a butter-like tenderness! Serve with new potatoes and minted spring peas...!


Pollo al Marsala

(Chicken in a Marsala wine sauce)

Ingredients (serves 4)
500gr cubed chicken breasts
1 smallish onion 3 cloves of garlic
2 good-sized glasses of dry Marsala wine
1/2 bottle of tomato sauce
a handful of fresh parsley olive oil
salt and pepper

Gently sweat the finely chopped onion and garlic in some olive oil and, when soft, add the chicken, sealing it on all sides. Turn up the heat a little and add the Marsala, making sure you boil off the alcohol. After a couple of minutes turn down the heat and cover. Let it gently simmer for 10-15 minutes and then stir in the tomato sauce. Season and leave for another 5-10 minutes. Add the chopped parsley at the end and serve with new potatoes.


Peperoni in agrodolce in crosta

(Sweet and sour peppers on a crusty pastry base)

Ingredients (serves 4)
3 largish peppers (red and green)
1 chilli pepper
1 tablespoon of pine kernels
Fresh mint
1 tablespoon of honey
1 tablespoon of apple or white wine vinegar
A short-crust pastry base

Make and bake your pastry base and leave to cool. In the meantime, chop and dessed your peppers and place in a frying pan with a dribble of oil, a pinch of salt and a finely chopped chilli pepper. Cook very slowly on a low flame until really soft (make sure the peppers do not fry). Add a spoonful of honey and a spoonful of vinegar and mix carefully. Taste to check the balance of sweet and sour and change modify depending on your tastes. Add the pine kernels and the chopped mint and, when cool, place on the pastry base. Leave to cool and serve with a dribble of extra virgin olive oil and white crusty bread.

This recipe was kindly given to us by the owners of Don Arcangelo all'Olmo 


Involtini di Melanzane

(Auberinge stuffed rolls)

Ingredients (serves 4)
3 large aubergines
100gr ham 50gr breadcrumbs
50gr grated mature cheese 2 /3 cloves of garlic
a handful of fresh basil
2 tins of tomatoes
half a small onion
olive oil
salt and pepper

Cut the aubergines lengthwise into 1cm-thick slices and brush with salt to extract any liquid. Leave for about 30/40 minutes and then rinse and dry. Then, heat some extra virgin olive oil in a large frying pan with a little salt and fry the aubergine slices on both sides until golden brown. Place on kitchen paper to remove excess oil and leave to cool.

While the aubergine slices are cooling, it is time to prepare the filling. Finely chop the ham and garlic, add the breadcrumbs and grate the cheese into the mix. Add most of your basil and a drop of olive oil to make the mixture ever so slightly moist. Season with salt and pepper and mix well. Then place a little of the filling on each slice of aubergine and roll up, fastening each involtino with a toothpick.

To prepare the tomato sauce, finely chop your onion and fry it gently in a little olive oil. Add your tinned tomatoes, and cook down with a little salt and pepper. Add a little basil towards the end.

When the sauce is ready (about 20 minutes should do), place the aubergine rolls in an greased oven-proof dish and cover with most of the tomato sauce. Place in a hot oven for around 15-20 minutes.

Add a little more of the tomato sauce and serve with crusty white bread and a chilled bottle of white wine. Alternatively, in the summer, you can let the whole thing cool down and serve at room temperature or slightly cold a little later.



(Sicilian meat roll)

Ingredients (serves 4) 1 thinly cut but large piece of veal or beef
2 eggs
4 slices of bacon
4 thin slices of tasty cheese
1 small onion
1 carrot
1 stick of celery
a large glass of red wine
olive oil
salt and pepper

Lay out the meat and tenderise to make thin. Prepare a thin omelete and lay on top of the meat. Add the slices of bacon and cheese and a little finely chopped onion. Role up, tie with string and place in a large pan with a little hot olive oil. Brown gently and add the finely chopped carrot and celery, a glass of red wine and a little vegetable stock. Salt and pepper to taste, put a lid on and simmer at a low flame for around 45 minutes. Take out the meat carefully and reduce the remaining sauce to make a thick vegetable gravy. Take the farsumagru to the table whole and slice in front of your guests. Serve with a little sauce and a full-bodied red wine. 


Polpette al Sugo

(Meatballs in tomato sauce)

Ingredients (serves 4)
300gr top quality mincemeat
100gr strong grated cheese
400gr tomatoes
50gr breadcrumbs
1 onion
4 cloves of garlic
60gr ham
2 eggs
salt and pepper

Mix the mincemeat with the cheese, the breadcrumbs. Finely chop the parsley, the onion, the garlic and the ham and add to the meat. Season with salt and pepper and then add the two well-beaten eggs. Mix all together with your hands and divide the mixture into balls. Pass each in a little flour and fry in hot olive oil.
Meanwhile, in another pan gently fry some finely chopped onion and garlic. Chop the tomatoes and add along with some salt, pepper and oregano. Cover and leave to cook vigorously until the tomatoes go down and create a sauce. Then add the meatballs, cover and cook for a further 10-15 minutes on a low heat. Serve with a fruity red wine and some crusty white bread.


Scaloppine al Marsala

(Veal escalopes in Marsala wine)

Ingredients (serves 4) 500gr thin slices of veal or top quality beef
50gr of butter
Dry Marsala wine
Salt and pepper

Tenderise the slices of veal and brush with the flour. Melt the butter in a frying pan and cook slowly, adding a little salt and pepper. When cooked, remove the meat and leave in a hot place. Add a glass of Marsala to the frying pan and stir until the sauce is a liquid cream. Pour the sauce on the veal and serve with new potatoes and vegetables of the season.


Involtini alla Palermitana

(Palermitan meat rolls)

Ingredients (serves 4)
16 thin slices of veal (about 10cm x 5cm)
1 onion olive oil
50g breadcrumbs
50g grated caciocavallo cheese or other strong cheese
20g very small cubes of caciocavallo or other strong cheese
50g finely chopped ham
salt & pepper
bay leaves
50g raisins and pine kernels

1)Preheat the oven to 200° C
2)Place some olive oil in a frying pan and when hot gently fry the finely chopped onion. When the onions are soft, add the breadcrumbs, the pine kernels, the raisins, the ham, the grated cheese, the small cubes of cheese salt and pepper. Stir well until you have a consistent well amalgamated mix.
3) Spread the slices of veal on a flat surface and add a bit of the filling on each before rolling them up. Place them on 4 skewers (4 involtini per skewer), with bay leaves and slices of onion dividing each one.
4) Put the skewers in an oiled baking tray and place in the oven.
5) Cook at 200 °C for 15-20 minutes and turn twice.
6)Serve with a squirt of lemon juice.


Parmigiana di melanzana

(Fried aubergines in tomato sauce)

Ingredients (serves 6)
1/2 litre of tomato sauce - home-made is better
4 large aubergines (eggplants)
extra virgin olive oil
150 g grated Parmesan cheese
several leaves of fresh basil

Cut the aubergines into 1cm-thick slices and rub a small amount of salt into each slice.
Fry the slices in olive oil until brown and tender.
Place the aubergines in layers in a serving dish adding the tomato sauce, the grated parmesan cheese and basil leaves on top of each layer.

Serve as a cool antipasto with crusty white bread in the summer or bake (with mozzarella slices on top) in the oven for a hearty winter main course.

Fish and sea-food main courses

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Tonno in agrodolce con piselli e mentuccia

(Tuna with sweet and sour onions, peas and mint)

Ingredients (serves 4)
4 tuna steaks (about 150gr each)
1 large red onion chopped into fine strands
300gr fresh or frozen peas
5 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
100ml water
Sea salt
Black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
A small bunch of fresh mint, chopped finely

Season the tuna steaks with salt and pepper and quickly sear them in a large frying pan with a little extra virgin olive oil. When seared on all sides and pink in the middle, take out and leave to rest in a warm place. Add a little more olive oil to the pan if necessary and gently cook the onion until translucent. In the meantime, mix the red wine vinegar with the sugar and half of the water, making sure that the sugar has dissolved. Then add the mixture to the onions and leave to cook gently for a few minutes until the onions start to caramelize. Add the rest of the water, the peas and the chopped mint and cover until the peas are just about cooked. Then return the tuna steaks to the pan, warm through for a couple of minutes and serve.

Calamari fritti

(Fried squid rings)

Ingredients (serves 4)
600g fresh squid, cleaned and chopped by your fishmonger
8 tbsp durum wheat flour
1 tsp salt
Vegetable oil for frying
2 lemons

There's no need to make a batter in this light Sicilian version of calamari fritti! Simply sieve the flour, add some salt and mix. Then toss the squid rings and tentacles in the flour. Heat up the oil in a deep saucepan (fill about a third of the pan) and when really hot, add your squid a little at a time, shaking off any excess flour first. When golden brown, take out the squid with a spoon with holes in (draining any excess oil) and place on some kitchen towel. Sprinkle immediately with sea salt and serve while hot with a good squeeze of lemon.


Ruota di Pesce Spada

(Wheel of swordfish)

Ingredients (serves 4)
1 wheel of swordfish about 5-6cm high (about 600-700gr)
2 tbsp capers
10 cherry tomatoes
1 bunch of fresh mint
½ an onion finely chopped
Extra virgin olive oil
1 lemon
Salt and pepper

Take a large piece of aluminium foil (at least twice as big as the wheel of swordfish) and place half of it in the bottom of a large baking tray. Dribble with a little olive oil, and add a little salt and pepper. Put the wheel of swordfish on top and then oil and season the upper side. Sprinkle with capers, the cherry tomatoes halved, the finely chopped onion and add a squeeze of lemon. Cover the top with the remaining part of the sheet of foil and close the sides, crimping so that the swordfish is sealed inside. Then place in a medium-hot oven for about 40-45 minutes. After that time, take out and gently check that it is cooked all the way through. If it isn’t, reseal the foil package and put back in the oven for 5 minutes.


Pesce Spada alla Messinese

(Swordfish Messina style)

Ingredients (serves 4)
600gr swordfish cut into palm-sized pieces slices
2 clove of garlic, chopped
2 spring onions, chopped
20 capers (if salted, rinse well first)
10 black olives, chopped
4 anchovy fillets
1 glass of white wine
½ bottle of tomato passata
1 can of chopped tomato
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
A pinch of crushed dried chili pepper
Parsley, chopped

Gently seal the swordfish slices in some olive oil and then remove and set aside. Add the spring onions, garlic, capers, olives, chili pepper and anchovy fillets and gently fry until the anchovies  melt into the oil and the onion is translucent.  Put the slices of swordfish back and then add the white wine. Burn off the alcohol and then add the tomatoes. Mix well, cover and leave to cook for 30 minutes on a very low flame. When ready to serve, sprinkle with parsley. It is excellent with a piece of crusty white bread and a glass of a characterful white wine.

Sarde a Beccafico alla Giorgio Locatelli

Giorgio Locatelli's version of a classic Sicilian sardine dish

Ingredients (serves 4)
8-12 sardines depending on their size
100g toasted breadcrumbs
1 tbsp olive oil
1 orange
1 lemon
4 salted anchovies
10g sugar
50g capers (preferably from Pantelleria)
50g black olives
40g sultanas
40g pine kernels
20 toasted almonds
5g parsley

Scale, gut, and chop the heads of the sardines. Wash them well and open like a book.

For the filling
Toast the breadcrumbs, adding the peel and juice of the lemon and the orange. Melt the anchovies in a little olive oil, finely chop the olives, capers, pine kernels and the sultanas, toast and chop the almonds and blend all together in a mixer.  Then add the parsley. When the mixture is homogeneous, spread it on to the sardines using your finger. Roll up the sardine so that the tail remains on the top.

Place the rolled sardines next to each other in a baking tray with bay leaves between them. Sprinkle some breadcrumbs (not toasted) on top and put in the oven for around 10 minutes, depending on the size of the sardines.

Text © Giorgio Locatelli

Giorgio Locatelli on Sicilian food >>

This recipe is reproduced with the kind permission of Giorgio Locatelli, one of the best Italian chefs working in the UK. At Locanda Locatelli, Giorgio serves traditional Italian dishes, emphasising the quality and freshness of the produce, as well as adding his own personal creative touch. That, together with a friendly service and a relaxed atmosphere, has made Locanda Locatelli one of the most sought-after restaurants in London. It won a Michelin star in 2003 (Giorgio’s second), which was been retained ever since. His frequent television appearances, including two popular series, ‘Pure Italian’ and BBC2’s ‘Tony and Giorgio’, have made him a household name. His ode to Italian food, 'Made in Italy', is an encyclopaedic guide to his country's cuisine in all its rich diversity. He has frequently holidayed in Sicily and has stayed in a number of villas with The Thinking Traveller in Sicily.


Stuffed calamari Sicilian style

Ingredients (serves 4)
4 large squid (about 400-500g)
100g of breadcrumbs
1 heaped tablespoon of raisins
I heaped tablespoon of pine kernels
1 tablespoon of grated Parmesan cheese
6 anchovy fillets
1 small chilli pepper (optional)
Extra virgin olive oil
1 splash of white wine
Salt and pepper ?

First thing is to ask your fishmonger to prepare and clean the squid for you. After his knife has done its work, you should have four squid bodies and nice collection of tentacles.  Once at home, chop the tentacles, and quickly sauté in hot oil until the curl up. Do not cook too long as squid tends to get very chewy if overcooked. When ready, place in a bowl with your filling ingredients: the breadcrumbs,, the raisins, the pine kernels, the grated Parmesan cheese, the chopped anchovy fillets, chilli pepper (optional) and parsley. Salt and pepper to taste and mix really well. Then spoon the mixture into your four squid bodies, leaving a little room at the entrance. Seal the openings with a toothpick and place on a lightly oiled baking tray. Pour over a little more olive oil and a splash of white wine and place in a pre-heated oven (350). Cook for about 10-12 minutes and serve.

Tonno e piselli con mentuccia

(Chunks of fresh tuna with peas and mint)

Ingredients (serves 4)

300g fresh tuna steaks
300g fresh peas (or frozen)
1 shallot
2 cloves of garlic
1 glass white wine
A sprig of mint
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp sugar
Salt and pepper
A couple of glasses of water

Thinly slice the shallot and the garlic and place in a large frying pan with a little slightly salted olive oil. Fry gently until soft and add the vinegar and sugar. Cook down the vinegar until you have a thick sauce and add the tuna, cut into cubes. Brown on all sides, add the white wine and burn off the alcohol. Add a couple of glasses of boiling water (it shouldn't be too liquidy but just cover the bottom of the pan) and add the peas. Adjust the seasoning, add the freshly chopped mint and cover to simmer on a low hear. After about 5 minutes check that the liquid has reduced and thickened and serve! Buon appetito!

Fish soup, Aeolian style


For the fish stock
Fish bones and head of 4 red mullet
1/2 stick of celery
1 carrot
1.5/2 litres of water
3 glasses white wine
A sprig of parsley
1 bay leaf
a few black peppercorns
1 clove of garlic

For the soup
200g of swordfish in small cubes (about 2cm wide)
200g of grouper or other firm-fleshed fish in cubes (2cm wide)
4 red mullet (depending on size about 300g in all)
1 small squid chopped into rings
100gr shelled prawns
200gr clams
200g mussels
8 skinned tomatoes
1 red onion
3/4 cloves of garlic
1 glass of white wine
1 bay leaf
1 finely chopped green chilli

Ask your fishmonger to fillet your red mullet and slice your squid into rings. He will probably be happy to cube your swordfish and grouper too! Remember to keep the bones and heads of the red mullet though, as you will need this for your fish stock. Make sure all the pieces of fish are the same size so that they will cook equally.

The fish stock
Nothing is easier than preparing a good fish stock. Simply put your fish bones and heads in a pan with about 1.5-2 litres of water and add the other ingredients. Bring to a light boil and leave, letting the mixture concentrate a little through evaporation. Leave for around 45 minutes in all. Scrape off any floating scum and strain.

The soup
First, add the well-washed clams and mussels to a large frying pan. Add a little white wine and cover. When they have opened, pour the liquor into the fish stock, shell the mussels and clams and set them aside. Throw the shells away.

Meanwhile, in a large pan, gently saute' a finely chopped red onion, the cloves of garlic (whole) and the finely chopped green chilli pepper until the onion is translucent. Add a glass of white wine, boil off the alcholol and add the fish stock. Stir in your tomatoes, skinned and chopped and leave to cook until they are nicely mashed. The sauce should be fairly liquidy, the consistency of a good broth. Taste and season at this point, then add the cubed fish, the red mullet and the rings of squid squid and leave to cook for about 5 mins in the gently bubbling tomato sauce. Then add the shelled prawns, leave for another couple of minutes, add the mussels and clams. Stir well, season to taste, adding a little chopped parsley and leave for another couple of minutes. Serve with crusty bread and a chilled glass of white wine.

Merluzzo Mediterranea alla Siciliana

(Mediterranean cod Sicilian style)

Ingredients (serves 4)4 cod fillets
2-3 anchovy fillets
a teaspoon of salted capers
the juice of 1 lemon
olive oil
salt and pepper

Rub the cod fillets with olive oil, a little lemon juice, freshly crushed sea salt and black pepper. Leave them to marinate for half an hour. In the meantime, melt 2 or 3 anchovy fillets in a little olive oil at a low heat. Place the cod fillets in a baking tray with a little olive oil and add the anchovies and oil along with a few finely chopped capers (cleansed of salt), a sprinkling of parsley and a little more lemon juice. Cover and place in the oven at a medium heat. Leave for half an hour and then check progress. If not ready, leave for another 15 minutes and check again.


Acciughe Farcite al Forno

An Antonio Carluccio recipe
from "Complete Italian Food" by Antonio Carluccio Reproduced with kind permission of the author and his publisher, Quadrille.

(Stuffed baked anchovies)

Nothing can surpass freshly caught anchovies, which are good eaten raw with just a few drops of lemon juice.  This typical Sicilian recipe, with its raisins and pine nuts, has echoes of its Arabic origin.

Ingredients (serves 4)
24 very fresh anchovies, boned and opened butterfly fashion
6 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, very finely chopped
4 tbsp finely chopped parsley
1 tbsp finely chopped fresh basil leaves
5 sage leaves, finely chopped
1 small chilli, very finely chopped
25g (3/4 oz) pine nuts
30g (1 oz) raisins
Juice of 1 lemon
30g (1 oz) dry breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/gas 7 and grease a baking sheet with some of the olive oil.

In a bowl, mix the garlic, herbs, chilli, pine nuts and raisins with salt and pepper to taste.  Add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and a few drops of lemon juice and mix well.

Lay 12 of the anchovies skin side down next to each other on the prepared baking sheet.  Distribute the mixture on top of them, sprinkle with a few drops of lemon juice and sandwich with the remaining anchovies skin side up.  Sprinkle with the breadcrumbs and drizzle over the remaining olive oil.  Bake for 10-12 minutes, until just starting to brown.  Serve hot, sprinkled with the remaining lemon juice, or cold arranged on lemon slices.

From "Complete Italian Food" by Antonio Carluccio

Reproduced with kind permission of the author and his publisher, Quadrille.


Polpette di Tonno al Cartoccio

(Aromatic, juicy tuna balls)

Ingredients (serves 4)
500gr fresh tuna
fresh mint
50gr breadcrumbs
1 egg
a dash of balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper

Wash the tuna under running water to eliminate some of the excess juice. Dry thoroughly and then chop into as small pieces as possible. Put into a bowl and add generous amount of fresh chopped mint, the breadcrumbs, about half a beaten egg, a dash of balsamic vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Mix well and then, when you have a firm slightly sticky consistency (add more breadcrumbs if it is too liquid) roll the mixture into balls (a little larger than golfballs). Put the polpette on a sheet of tin foil, dribble with olive oil and then wrap up. Place on a baking tray and cook in a pre-heated oven at about 400°F (200°C) for about 20-30 minutes. Serve with fresh minted peas and roast potatoes.


Stuffato di pesce spada

(Tasty swordfish stew)

Ingredients (serves 4)
800 g swordfish in cubes
1/2 an onion
1 carrot
60g of green, pitted olives
30 g of salted capers
½ a stick of celery
3 or 4 cloves of garlic whole
Extra virgin olive oil
1 large glass of white wine
150gr cherry tomatoes
Salt and pepper

Slice the onion into thin strips, chop the celery finely and cube the carrots. Place in a flame-proof casserole dish along with the garlic cloves and gently sauté. Add the swordfish, lightly brown and then add the olives and capers and the cherry tomatoes halved. Add the wine, burning off the alcohol and then season. Add a little water, cover and place in the oven at a low temperature. Leave for around an hour stirring once or twice and checking on the juices (it shouldn't go dry).

Serve adding a little finely chopped fresh mint, a dribble of seriously good olive oil and a slice of crusty white bread.


Polpette di Sarde

(Sardine balls in fresh tomato sauce)

Ingredients (serves 4)
600g fresh sardines
2 eggs
A handful of pine kernels
A handful of sultanas
A little grated strong cheese
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 litre freshly-made tomato sauce

Wash and descale the sardines and then chop as small as possible. Add the breadcrumbs, sultanas, pine kernels, a drop of olive oil and parsley and then season. Mix together thoroughly and add the two beaten eggs. Mix again until all the egg has been absorbed and then divide the mixture into snooker-ball sized polpette of good firm consistency.
Add the sardine balls to a hot tomato sauce and cook on a low flame for about 30 minutes


Marinated tuna

Ingredients (serves 4)

600-700g of tuna fish cut into small cubes
extra virgin olive oil
1 lemon
1 clove of garlic
1 glass of white wine
1 tablespoon of vinegar
fresh mint
salt and pepper

Cut the tuna into small cubes and place in a closeable container. Add the juice of one lemon, a thinly cut clove of garlic, 1 glass of white wine, a tablespoon of vinegar, finely chopped fresh mint and a dash of salt and pepper. Mix together well, cover, and place in the fridge for a few hours.

Heat a large frying pan with a little salt on a high flame and then add the tuna along with its marinade. Stir round constantly for a few minutes until brown and then serve with minted new potatoes. Chilled white wine obligatory!


Involtini di Pesce Spada

(Swordfish rolls)

Ingredients (serves 4)
12 slices of swordfish (600-700g)
Extra virgin olive oil
100g grated mature cheese (pecorino if possible)
20g pine kernels
20g raisins
Lemon juice
1/2 a small chilli pepper chopped
Salt and pepper
3-4 cloves of garlic
1 small onion
12 bay leaves
4 skewer sticks

The filling: finely chop the onion and garlic and gently fry in olive oil until soft. Add salt and pepper, the pine kernels, the raisins, the finely chopped parsley, the cheese and the chilli pepper and mix well until it is fairly solid (though not too dry).

The sword fish: using a tenderiser, flatten the swordfish fillets and then add a spoonful of the filling and roll up. Once ready roll in olive oil and bread crumbs and place 3 rolls onto each skewer, divided by a slice of onion and a bay leaf.



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Parfait alle mandorle


5 eggs
150 gr  sugar
½  litre crème fraîche
100  gr almonds
2 tbsp of the italian liquor “Amaretto di Saronno” (or a similar one with almond flavour)

Toast and caramelize the almonds (20 min in the oven at 200 degree, then 5 min in a frying pan with a spoon of sugar), then crush them into small bits.

Beat the egg whites and mix the yolk with the sugar.

Add the whipped crème fraîche and then slowly the whipped egg whites. Stir gently and add the liquor.

Pour half of the mixure into a wet silicon dish, cover with the caramelised almonds and finally pour over the remaining half of the mixture.

Leave in the freezer for at least 3 hrs

Serve with a warm coulis of mandarin sauce ( a quick version of which can be obtained diluting a good mandarin marmalade with a bit of liquor).

Recipe provided by Don Arcangelo all'Olmo


Sorbetto di fragole

(Strawberry sorbet)

Ingredients (serves 8)
1kg of strawberries
400gr of sugar
The juice of 1.5 lemons
A drop or two of rum (optional!)

Blend the strawberries, add the sugar and lemon juice and mix well. Taste and adjust the flavour if necessary and pour into an ice-cream maker. If you don't have one, place in freezer and stir every 10-15 minutes.

Recipe provided by Don Arcangelo all'Olmo


Sicilian Cassata

This recipe is reproduced with the kind permission of Ben Buning, English pâtissier, baker and cook who now lives in Palermo. As well as managing Il Borghetto he cooks for guests on request, and the results, as we know from pleasurable experience, are exceptional!

Ingredients for the sponge cake
One 10-inch round cake tin
Two eggs
120gr sugar
120gr butter
120gr flour
Two tsp baking powder
Two tbsp milk

Ingredients for the filling and decoration:
250gr fresh ricotta cheese
400gr icing sugar
200gr almond paste
100gr dark chocolate chips
Green food colouring
Candied fruit
One tsp glucose syrup

Step 1: the sponge  
Beat the sugar and butter in a bowl until soft and creamy . Mix in the eggs and milk followed by the flour and baking powder and mix well. Line the cake tin with greaseproof paper, add the mixture and bake at 170° C for around 25/35 mins. When ready, remove from tin and leave to cool.

Step 2: preparing the setting dish
Take a 9-inch curved dish (soup bowl) and line with cling film making sure to leave  some cling film over hanging.

Step 3: colour the almond paste green
Roll out into an 10-inch circle and place it in the setting dish.
Cut the sponge cake in half and lay one half  on top of the Almond paste.

Step 4: the filling
Place the Ricotta cheese and 250gr of icing sugar in a bowl and beat until creamy. Mix in the chocolate chips and pour the mixture into the setting dish. Place the remaining piece of sponge cake on top of the mixture to form a lid. Pull the overhanging  pieces of cling film towards the centre completely covering the sponge and place in the fridge for at least 12 hours.

Step 5: the icing
Add one tsp of liquid glucose to the remaining 150gr of icing sugar and very carefully, while mixing, add a few drops of water at a time until you achieve a syrupy consistency.

Step 6: remove the cake from the fridge
Undo the cling film parcel and place a cake board on top. Turn over and remove the bowl and cling film. Pour the icing onto the Almond paste and using a pallet knife spread the icing until the cake is completely covered. Decorate with candied fruit and serve.

Torta al pistacchio

(Pistachio tart)

Ingredients (serves 6+)
250g butter
6 eggs
350g crushed best quality pistachio nuts
250g sugar
two sachets of vanilla
100g chopped toasted almonds

Line the bottom of a flan/pie dish with short-crust pastry. In a large bowl slightly melt the butter and work in the eggs, the pistachios, the sugar and the two sachets of vanilla. Mix well and then pour onto the pastry. Cover with a light strip of chopped toasted almonds and place in the oven, pre-heated to 170°, for 45 minutes.

This recipe was kindly given to us by the owners of Don Arcangelo all'Olmo after a series of unforgettable dinners during our team meeting there in Nov-Dec 2007.




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