FUSILLI ALLA SICILIANA (Pasta alla Siciliana – whatever that means)

My daughter found this clipping. It was printed in the Herald Sun (Melbourne) on Friday 5th August 2011. The accompanying text is:

Samantha’s sister spotted this interesting pasta on a menu in a London Restaurant.

I hope No.10 is actually ‘aubergines’ and not what it says ( grilled aboriginies).

I wonder how many noticed the unfortunate faux pas. So often readers bring (during the reading process) what they expect to find in the text – by that I mean that as readers, we do not necessarily read every word carefully and because the word ‘aborigines’ looks a little like ‘aubergines’ (eggplants), many would read it as such.

Call a particular dish alla Siciliana and immediately it may sound special to someone who may not know any better. I would not order it on principle – anything called alla Siciliana smells fake.

A recipe cooked alla siciliana could contain almost any ingredient from anywhere in the south of Italy, for example tomatoes, olives, wild fennel, anchovies, pine nuts, raisins. This restaurant has chosen a rich tomato sauce, mozzarella, grilled aubergines, a dash of garlic and parmesan cheese. I am not sure about the combination but here is a recipe for Fusilli alla Siciliana that is more to my taste.

It is a summer dish; tomatoes, peppers eggplants, basil – I do know that all of this produce seem to be available at the Queen Victoria Market even if it is out of season in Melbourne.

Fusilli: This strip of pasta is fashioned like a spiral and shaped like a big screw or a spring.  The same shapes may be labelled spirali if made by a different manufacturer. To be more Sicilian you could use cavatelli or caserecci.

eggplant, 1-2,
pitted black olives, ½ cup
anchovies fillets , 4-5, chopped finely
pasta, 400 g (100g per person)
extra virgin olive oil, ¾ cup
garlic cloves, 3 chopped finely
chilli flakes, pinch or fresh chilli
salted capers, ½ cup – pre soaked
red tomatoes, 1 kg  or good quality tinned
fresh basil leaves, 5-10
chopped parsley, 1 tablespoon salt to taste
Peel the eggplant and cut into cubes, soak in some salt water till ready to use. Put a weight on the cubes to keep them submerged. Drain and towel dry before cooking.
Roast/char peppers and remove the skins. Separate them into strips.
Make a tomato salsa: soften the garlic in some oil, add the tomatoes, a little salt and cook till reduced.
Heat more oil in a separate frypan and sauté the eggplants. Add anchovies, chilli, capers and parsley. Mix the ingredients together and cook for about 10 minutes. Add peppers and basil and heat through.
Use the sauce to dress the pasta and present it with grated pecorino cheese or ricotta salata.
See earlier post: