Tag Archives: Spaghetti

SPAGHETTI with PRAWNS and ZUCCHINI

I do not buy prawns very often but when I do they have to be as sustainable.

Having lived in South Australia (before moving to Melbourne) I am always attracted to prawns from the Spencer Gulf, Prawn Trawl Fishery in South Australia and in December were some available at the Queen Victoria Market, but I had to search for these. Around the same time and much to my delight, I discovered T.O.M.S Sustainable Seafood stall at the South Melbourne Market. This small stall has limited produce but all of the fish is certified MSC (marine stewardship council) and FOS (friend of the sea) seafood.Here I bought sustainable prawns from Queensland.

I buy both cooked prawns in their shells and green peeled prawns to cook. One favourite and easy summer dish is spaghetti, prawns and zucchini.

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Last year I bought a spiralizer – this turns zucchini into strands like spaghetti. I need to admit that I really enjoyed using this gadget the first one or two times and then the novelty wore off (it is stored in cupboard in spare room = out of sight, out of mind). Before I had this gadget, I used sliced zucchini – same taste, different appearance.

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Before I had this gadget, I used sliced zucchini. The taste is the same, the appearance is different and when I use the spiralizer, rather than short pasta I use spaghetti to compliment the long strands of zucchini.

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What makes this pasta and zucchini dish ultra special is the topping of toasted breadcrumbs – an embellished “mollica” or “pan grattato” –  breadcrumbs made with day old bread and made golden in a hot frypan in olive oil. To this I add pine nuts, a little cinnamon, sugar and grated lemon peel – flavours of Sicily.

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For fried breadcrumbs (often called mollica or pangrattato in Italian) use 1-3 day old  good quality white bread (crusty bread, sourdough or pasta dura).

The term for breadcrumbs, in Italian is pane grattugiato/ grattato – it means grated bread. Mollica is the white inside part of the bread.

Remove crust, break into pieces, place into a food processor and make into coarse crumbs. They can also be crumbled with fingertips or grated. You will need about 1 cup.

Heat about ½ cup of extra virgin olive oil in a frying pan and add breadcrumbs . Stir continuously on low temperature until they are just beginning to colour.

Add 1/2 cup pf pine nuts and 1/2 teaspoon of sugar, stir until the nuts and breadcrumbs are an even, light golden brown.

Add 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon and grated peel of one small lemon.

Remove from the pan when they are ready otherwise they will continue to cook; set aside until you wish to use them. they can be made and stored in a glass jar with a lid in the fridge up to a week.

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For 6 people

400g spaghetti
extra-virgin olive oil
4 green zucchini, use spiralizer or sliced thinly
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
600g green prawns, peeled
a large handful flat-leaf parsley, chopped finely
salt and pepper to taste

Add some olive oil in a large frying pan on high heat. Add the zucchini, salt and pepper and cook until slightly softened. Remove from the pan and place them aside. If the zucchini have released liquid drain the liquid and set aside.

Add more olive oil to the same pan and on high heat add the garlic and prawns. Toss them around until they begin to colour. Add the parsley, a little salt and pepper and cook until the prawns are cooked and the parsley has wilted.

Cook the pasta.

Sometimes the prawns release liquid. If this is the case remove the prawns and set them aside and evaporate the liquid to concentrate the flavours. The zucchini juice can also be added to be evaporated.

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Once the juice has been reduced, add the prawns and zucchini and heat through.

Dress the drained pasta.

Serve with the pangrattato sprinkled on top. Add torn basil or mint leaves for visual effect and a fresh taste.

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Another simple pasta and zucchini recipe (posted in 2009):

PASTA CON ZUCCHINE FRITTE (Pasta and fried zucchini)

An alternative pangrattato recipe that includes anchovies:

SPAGHETTI with ‘NDUJA, SQUID, VONGOLE AND PAN GRATTATO

SPAGHETTI CHI RICCI – SPAGHETTI CON RICCI DI MARE (Spaghetti with sea urchins)

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When in Sicily eating Spaghetti With Sea Urchins (Spaghetti chi Ricci) is a must.

They are relatively unknown culturally in Australia and have been next to non-existent commercially.
Sea urchins have a unique taste – they are considered a delicacy by Italians and are popular particularly with the Japanese, French, and Greeks. The gonads of both sexes of sea urchins are referred to as roe (which sounds nicer than testes and ovaries).

They are called ricci in Italy (means curly, the spines of sea urchins are curly at the ends) and when I was a child visiting Sicily, I remember finding sea urchins under rocks on the beach — family and friends wrapped their hands in newspaper and went looking for them at low tide. Most of the time it was very easy to find 4 to 6 sea urchins for each of us to eat raw — the urchins were simply cut in half using a very sharp knife, revealing the yellow-orange roe that was easily removed with a teaspoon and eaten from the spoon with a squeeze of lemon juice.

The next favourite method of eating them was as a dressing for pasta.

In my book, Sicilian Seafood Cooking there is a recipe for this. I had great trouble finding sea urchins to cook (and to be photographed) for my book that was published November 2011.

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At the time I found it surprising that there are about 42 species of sea urchins found in Australian waters and although they can be found in many locations, only a few are good tasting. Most are exported to Japan. The market price for fresh, chilled sea urchin roe varies considerably depending on colour and texture.

The Tasmanian sea urchin fishery is now the largest in Australia and I purchased Tasmanian roe from a specialist sea-food vendor (Ocean Made) who deals mainly with restaurateurs. I found some whole sea urchins at the Preston Market but when I opened them I found them very inferior in quality.

In the photographs (from my book Sicilian Seafood Cooking) you see the work of the photographer Graham Gilles and food stylist Fiona Rigg. I was the cook. The photo of the boats at Mondello  (Sicily, close to Palermo) is by Bob Evans.

Spaghetti are traditionally used for this recipe, but I also like ricci with egg pasta, either fresh or dry  — narrow linguine  — a delicate taste, which in my opinion complement the sweet, fresh taste of the roe.

I ate my best ever pasta with sea urchins in a restaurant in Mondello (close to Palermo) and I am sure that this included lemon – grated peel and juice so I have included these in the recipe.

And one last thing — the sea urchins are not cooked and are mixed with the hot pasta at the time of serving. The aroma is indescribable. Bottarga is sometimes grated on top of the pasta and anchovies are commonly added to the sauce to accentuate the taste, but this is optional.

For 6 people

spaghetti, 500g. If I am using fresh pasta, I use 600g
sea urchins, 3-8 per person
garlic, 4-5 cloves, chopped finely
extra virgin olive oil, ¾ cup
salt and freshly ground black pepper or chili flakes
parsley, ¾ cup cut finely
anchovies, 3 cut finely (optional)
1-2 red fresh chilies cut finely

finely grated lemon peel of 1 lemon, and the juice

½ cup of your best quality, extra virgin olive oil to drizzle on top of the pasta at the end.
If you have purchased whole sea urchins, using a short and very sharp knife or scissors cut into the shell and enter the riccio di mare via the mouth (you will see the opening).
Split the sea urchins in half and remove the soft urchin flesh using a spoon. Place the roes into a bowl and discard all the rest. Break up the sea urchins into smaller pieces – they are soft so use a spoon.
Cook the pasta and while the pasta is cooking prepare the sauce.
Heat the ¾ cup of olive oil, add the garlic and over slow heat cook the garlic slowly until it becomes translucent.
Add chili and anchovies – the anchovies will dissolve in the hot oil.
Add this mixture of oil to the hot just drained pasta at the same time as the sea urchins and toss quickly to coat.
Add the parsley, lemon peel and the juice. Toss well to combine. Serve immediately and top each portion with a drizzle of your best olive oil – this is best done at the table.
Finally there has been some interest in eating Sea Urchins:
Date with plates sends chills down urchins spine:
Sea urchins, sometimes called sea hedgehogs, are the black, spiky creatures that lurk at the bottom of the ocean.
They prey on the kelp beds that are a vital habitat for the rock lobsters and abalone of the north-east coast of Tasmania and are considered one of the state’s worst marine pests. But have you ever thought of eating them?

Diver and seafood exporter Dave Allen has helped pioneer the sea urchin export industry in Australia and, in the process, has set about saving the reefs from being stripped bare by these pests.
Laura Banks. From Sunday Age, March 2, 2014.

I was pleased to see that sea urchins will be featured in a dinner called The Delicious Pest at The Melbourne Food & Wine Festival on March 9, 2014.

Sea Urchin Roe is seasonal and as mentioned above, it is available from (Ocean Made), fresh  and frozen when it is not in season.

Roe is also available from David Stringer at Kina Sea Urchins Australia:

We deliver all over Melbourne and Australia wide. We use air freight and provide the freshest sea urchin roe available across the country. All our processing is done with the highest degree of care in order to make our product the best and we pride ourselves on excellent customer service and quality of product. Last year we won a Victorian seafood of the year award for best customer service and quality of product.
We have a minimum order of 20 X 100gram or 150 gram punnets.
If that seems too much then you could suggest our products to friends to see if they would like to be included in the order. Please also note that when we have further shops open in Victoria then we will list them on our website. Customers can also sign up to our newsletter and stay informed of seasonal conditions, new products or anything regarding sea urchins.
Our new prices for 2015 are being implemented as we speak.
Welcome to Sea Urchins Australia.

 

 

SPAGHETTI ALLE VONGOLE (Spaghetti with cockles)

Vongole is the Italian word for cockles and pipis. When I lived in South Australia there were large succulent cockles that come from Goolwa, Middleton and the Coorong. In Victoria we call them pipis and they are found around the southern Victorian coastline.

Before you get excited about harvesting cockles from beaches you need to be aware that there are strong regulations for the harvest of these succulent little morsels because their numbers have been reduced significantly. It is positive to see that restrictions have been placed on the mechanical harvesting and numbers of licenses issued for the commercial fishing of cockles and there are now open and closed seasons to allow some of the stock to recuperate.

The above applies in South Australia and in Victoria and may be the case in other Australian states and in other parts of the world and it does not apply only to commercial fishers.

From Fisheries Victoria:
Although it is recognised in both states that fishers and families from a diverse range of backgrounds enjoy collecting pipis, either for food or bait, The reduced catch limit will help to ensure that access is shared among recreational collectors.

(The reduced daily catch limit of 2 litres with shells and half a litre without shells).
 

From Australian Marine Conservation Society (think twice classification):Cockles and Pipis
Notes: Harvested by hand from mud and sand flats; impact of intense localised harvesting unknown; uncertain stock status for all species; significant population fluctuations due to environmental factors; Pipi catches and catch rates in NSW have declined significantly in recent years.  

I bought 1 kilo and fed 4 people. As much as I like this dish, (and so did my guests), this is all I will eat this season- it will help me to appreciate them even more next season.

I use a large frypan to ensure more even cooking.

INGREDIENTS
spaghetti, 500g
vongole, 1kg
extra virgin olive oil, ½ cup
garlic, 3-4 cloves crushed
chili flakes or 1 fresh, red, deseeded and chopped finely
parsley, 1 cup, cut finely
dry white wine
PROCESSES
Rinse the vongole, rubbing to remove sand, and discard any open ones that don’t close after being gently squeezed or tapped (see above).
Cook the pasta.
Heat the olive oil then fry the garlic and chili lightly.
Add the vongole and parsley and shake pot for 1-2 minutes.
Add wine, cover and gently cook for a few minutes until the cockles are open — discard any that are not open and those that are empty.
Remove some cockle meat from the shells for ease of eating (I do not always do this).
Drain the pasta and combine with the vongole. Gently mix the spaghetti through the sauce.
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SPAGHETTI WITH CRAYFISH OR CRAB (Spaghetti con Aragosta o Granco)

Fishing boats at Mondello (close to Palermo)

In the festive season most cooks feel like cooking something different and seafood is often cooked for friends when they come for a meal.

Lobsters are very popular around Christmas time. Many think that they are buying crayfish for Christmas (because that is how they are labelled), but they are actually buying lobsters – lobsters are sea creatures and crayfish live in freshwater. 

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I often buy spiders (the legs) – they can be quite meaty and very suitable for this pasta dish that requires cooked lobster. Although this recipe is especially suited lobster, other crustaceans can be used, including crabs. When I lived in South Australia I was spoiled with Blue Swimmer crabs. You can buy them in Victoria, but they are not local. If you prefer local crabs, Sand crabs are caught around Portsea, Rye or Sorrento.

I ate this pasta (see photo) in a beachfront restaurant in Mondello, a seaside town near Palermo, Sicily. It is made with their local crab. In my recipe I have added parsley and basil – I find it difficult to cook without herbs.

INGREDIENTS
spaghetti 500g
cooked crayfish meat or crab meat, 600-800 g
extra virgin olive oil, ¾ cup
red tomatoes, 500g, peeled and chopped
garlic, 5 cloves, chopped finely
parsley, 1 cup cut very finely
basil, 7-10 leaves (I like to use several small sprigs with the leaves attached)
salt and freshly ground pepper or chili flakes to taste
PROCESSES
Make a tomato salsa with ¼ cup oil, 2 cloves of garlic, the tomatoes and a little salt and pepper.
Mix the ingredients together and allow the sauce to reduce – uncovered – to a cream like consistency. Take off the heat.
Cook the crabs lightly (enough to kill them).
Remove as much crab or crayfish meat as you can, but leave some of the entire legs for decoration.
Cook the pasta and while the pasta is cooking:
Heat the rest of the extra virgin olive oil, add the other cloves of garlic and sauté the crab or crayfish meat for a few minutes. Add the parsley and mix it through the hot mixture.
Add this to the hot salsa (you may need to reheat this) and toss it through.
Combine the hot, drained pasta with the sauce and mix well.
Add basil and present to the table.

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EVERYTHING YOU SEE I OWE TO SPAGHETTI (A tribute to Sofia Loren, pasta alla puttanesca and pasta alla ciociara)

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This post is written for a special friend who is living in London for a short time. Today is her birthday and I have sent her this card ‘Everything you see I owe to spaghetti’. The art work is by Angela Brennan, an Australian artist born in Ballarat, Victoria, Australia.

The quote ‘Everything you see I owe to spaghetti’ is one of Sofia Loren’s sayings and she probably does owe everything to spaghetti – she certainly seems to have eaten a lot of it.

She was illegitimate, born in Rome and raised in poverty by her single mother with the help of her grandmother. They moved to a poor neighbourhood in a small apartment on the outskirts of Naples to have family support. The napoletani are reputed to eat pasta at every meal (i.e. twice a day), and being poor, she probably ate pasta made with inexpensive ingredients.

Before her film career she appeared in publications called fumetti. These were very popular in Italy; they were photo-romance magazines, easy to read because of the pictures. Sofia also took part in beauty pageants, auditioned for film parts and as a movie extra in Rome. This was not an easy life, nor was it well paid and she probably had to eat a lot of pasta to survive.

In her early films she has often played the role of a prostitute (a puttana) or someone who lived in poverty. She ate a lot of pasta in these films (as a poor inhabitant of Rome or Naples) – some of you may have seen the Italian comedies L’oro di Napoli (The Gold of Naples 1954) Ieri, Oggi, Domani, (Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow 1963) and Matrimonio all’Italiana (Marriage Italian Style 1964).

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Sofia Loren has also written cookery books and it is not surprising that there are several recipes about pasta.

One of her recipes is for pasta alla puttanesca, probably made more famous because of her film roles as a puttana. This style and recipe for pasta is like a puttana (whore) has time to make and eat in between appointments. Loren says that she made time to cook it in between film shoots.

The ingredients are poor and as found in anybody’s pantry (Italian of course) and the amounts are determined by one’s tastes and accessibility. Do not use large quantities of ingredients – it is a dressing for the pasta, the sauce compliments the pasta, and not the other way around.

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Spaghetti or Pasta alla Puttanesca

INGREDIENTS
Extra virgin olive oil, onion sliced finely, garlic cloves (peeled and sliced), anchovy fillets (sliced into small pieces), black olives( stoned), salt-packed capers (well rinsed and soaked for 30 mins before cooking) dried red pepper flakes, a little dried oregano, fresh parsley and a few red tomatoes (peeled and chopped) for moisture. Fresh basil leaves if you have them and grated pecorino cheese (southern Italians like pecorino, northerners have parmigiano).
 
PROCESSES
The pasta is spaghetti and they are cooked while you make the sauce.
Soften the onion in a pan, in hot oil, add garlic and parsley and sauté for a few minutes to bring out the fragrance. Stir in chopped anchovies and dissolve in the heat.
Stir in, olives, capers, red pepper flakes, herbs and seasonings. Add tomatoes and bring to the boil. Lower heat and simmer for about 5 minutes. 
Dress the pasta with the sauce. Add grated cheese and eat.

You may also remember Sofia Loren when she won a Best Actress Oscar in her more serious role as the mother in Vittorio De Sica’s La Ciociara (Women of Rome 1960). The script was written by Moravia and in this film, as a poor woman of war torn Rome, she tries to take her daughter to safely.

 Spaghetti  alla Ciociara

Spaghetti alla Ciociaria is a regional recipe from Ciociara a region of Lazio, south of Rome.

This pasta is also made with inexpensive common produce, easily found on the land.

INGREDIENTS 
Olive oil, red peeled tomatoes, peppers (capsicums), black olives and lots of freshly ground black pepper to taste – Romans like pepper, think of carbonara.
It is a sauce for spaghetti and it is presented with grated pecorino (Romano).
 
PROCESSES 
Heat the oil, sauté the peppers till softened and beginning to caramelize. Stir in tomatoes, olives and seasoning. Cover and cook slowly for about 10 minutes.
Cook the spaghetti, dress it with the sauce and present it with more freshly ground pepper and the grated cheese. 
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Another of Sofia Loren’s quotes is:

‘Spaghetti can be eaten most success fully if you inhale it like a vacuum cleaner.’

My friend in London is celebrating her birthday at the River Café in London (Ruth Rogers and Rose Gray). The restaurant opened in 1987 emphases fresh ingredients and authentic northern Italian cucina rustica (home-cooking- style dishes).

Rose Gray, a founder and chef of the River Café in London, died recently of cancer. She was 71.

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Zucchini flowers (female flowers) at the end of baby zucchini are abundant at present at the Queen Victoria Market in Melbourne where I live. I will mix some drained ricotta with a fork, add some grated parmesan and stuff the zucchini flowers with this mixture. I will dip the zucchini and flower quickly in a simple pastella (a runny batter made with a mixture plain flour, a little salt, a dash of oil, water and then allowed to rest for a couple of hours) and fry them in hot oil.

I think that a couple of these on top of the Puttanesca will do the trick. Not traditional, but seasonal and suitable for any celebratory occasion.

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MINISTRA DI FINOCCHIO E PATATE (Soup – fennel and potatoes)

Several of my friends are beginning to discover and appreciate the taste of fennel. It is prolific at present in Melbourne and most refreshing eaten raw. It can be cooked – braised, baked, made into a tortino (see recipe in blog tortino di finocchio) and as in this recipe, made into a soup (not a very common way to cook fennel).

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Traditionally this recipe should be made with wild fennel and this is how I first tasted this soup.Obviously if this ingredient is not close by, the bulb can be used. If you can collect some wild fennel (make sure it looks healthy, see recipe in blog pasta con le sarde), experiment with this recipe and use both the wild and the cultivated bulb with some of its tender fronds and stalks (choose round, shiny bulbs, as in photo taken in the market of Syracuse).

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It is one of the simplest soups to make and when it was first made for me (using wild fennel) all of the vegetables went into a pot with the water and once softened, broken spaghetti were added – soup without pasta is rarely presented. The broken spaghetti were once the way to use them up, by all means use some short, small sout pasta shape. 

I am always amazed how Sicilian soups cooked so simply can be so appetising. My relative presented the minestra with a drizzle of the very flavourful oil given to her by a relative in Noto. Maybe the oil is the secret ingredient! Boiled vegetables cooked this way and presented with the water is considered rinfrescante, calming and soothing for the digestive system and very common as the evening meal (Sicilians still eat their main meal at lunch time).

I have intensified the flavours by varying the method of cooking and I sauté the vegetables before adding the liquid, this being a common way to make soup in the north of Italy. I also like to add stock instead of water, but when I cook this version it is no longer traditionally Sicilian.

I also found a version of a recipe for maccu (a very Sicilian soup) made in the Madonie which is very similar but uses wild fennel , dried broadbeans (soaked overnight and peeled) and no potato. The dried broadbeans add a very different taste and as they are floury, also thicken the soup as does the potato.
Photo below in restaurant in Modica.
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INGREDIENTS 

potatoes 250g, cut into small cubes 

onion 1 large 

parsley,1cup of chopped 

salt and pepper 

bulb fennel 1-2 (about 600g), with green top leaves chopped and sliced very finely 

tomatoes 3 large peeled, chopped 

spaghetti 300 g of broken roughly into little pieces 

extra virgin olive oil ½ cup and some quality extra virgin to dribble on top 

bay leaves, 2 preferably fresh (optional) 

water,1 ½ litres (I use stock)

 

PROCESSES 

Traditional: 

Add all all the vegetables to the water and proceed as described above. 

Not traditional: 

Saute the onion in the oil until softened. 

Add the fennel and potatoes and stir till coated, add about 2 cups of liquid and the bay leaves . 

Cover and allow to braise very gently and without drying out for about 10 minutes. 

Add the tomatoes , parsley, seasoning and the rest of the liquid. 

Bring to the boil, add the pasta, stir , cover and allow to cook . 

Drizzle with the quality olive oil and sprinkle with fresh black pepper and serve. 

 

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SPAGHETTI CA SARSA MURISCA (Sicilian) – Spaghetti with Moorish sauce

IMG_2644Salsa moresca is an interesting name for a pasta sauce. The sauce is eaten in and around the town of Scicli, a beautiful baroque town not far from Modica (also beautiful) which is close to Ragusa (where my father’s relatives live). The ingredients are a combination of the sweet and the savoury and include bottarga (tuna roe), sugar, pine nuts, cinnamon and the juice and peel of citrus.

I was interested in the name – murisca (moresca is Italian for Moorish). The ingredients could well be of Moorish origins but it is also the name of a dance – la moresca. It is still performed in some regions of Sicily, especially on certain religious feast days.

The dance is said to have been introduced by the Moors into Spain and became popular all over Europe during the 15 th and 16th Centuries. Dances with similar names and features are mentioned in Renaissance documents throughout many Catholic countries of Europe – Sicily, France, Corsica and Malta – and, from the times of the Venetian Republic, Dalmatia – also through Spanish trade, Flanders and Germany.

La moresca is remarkably like the English Morris dance (or Moorish dance) a folk dance usually accompanied by music where the group of dancers use implements such as sticks, swords, and handkerchiefs. In Sicily they only use handkerchiefs, but this may have been modified over time. La Moresca and the Morris dance are considered to be one of the oldest traditional European dances still performed and inspired by the struggle of Christians against the Moors, in some places Christians and Turks, in other places between Arabs and Turks. In parts of England, France, the Netherlands and Germany the performers still blacken their faces but it is uncertain if it is because they represent the Moors. This custom is not observed in Sicily.

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Each year in May, there is a sacred performance in Scicli that recalls the historical battle in 1091 between Arabs and Christians. Legend says that “La Madonna delle Milizie” came astride a white horse to champion the Christians. Pasta alla moresca is still cooked to commemorate this event.

Salsa moresca (the sauce for the pasta) is not cooked – it is an impasto – a paste or mixture, and probably traditionally made with a mortar and pestle.

INGREDIENTS: 500g long pasta, (spaghetti or bucatini), 150g grated bottarga, ¾ cup extra virgin olive oil, 1-2 chopped red chili, 2 cloves of finely chopped garlic, 4 finely cut anchovies, juice of 1 orange and 1 lemon, peel of ½ lemon, ½ teaspoon of powdered cinnamon, 1 large spoonful of sugar and 1 of vinegar,1 cup pine nuts, ½ cup finely cut parsley, 1 cup breadcrumbs ( from 1-2 day old bread) lightly browned in a little extra virgin olive oil.

PROCESSES

Pound all of the ingredients together preferably in a mortar and pestle: begin with the garlic the bottarga and anchovies. Follow with the sugar, cinnamon, pine nuts, breadcrumbs, parsley, peel and chilies – lubricating the paste gradually with the oil and juices as you pound.

Add the vinegar last of all.

And by now, having read about it, you can probably smell it.

Use this to dress spaghetti or bucatini. I scattered basil leaves on top to decorate the pasta dish.
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SPAGHETTI CON PESCE E POMODORINI (Spaghetti with fish and cherry tomatoes)

It will be maccheroni, I swear to you, that will unite Italy.”

Giuseppe Garibaldi, on liberating Naples in 1860

When eating in Italy, the usual structure of the meal will consist of two courses. Il primo (the first ) will be a soup, risotto or pasta and in Sicily (and in the south of Italy) it is more likely to be pasta

Il secondo (the second) is the main course – the protein component and one contorno (vegetable side dish) or two contorni.

There have always been two courses in my mother’s home, and in the homes of our Italian friends and relatives. Although this is not something that I have continued to observe in my own household, I generally prepare a primo and a secondo when I am cooking for friends. If this is the case, as is the customary practice in Italian homes, nibbles can just be a very simple plate of olives (or the like) and the dessert, fresh fruit.

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These days, I am into easy recipes, something I can prepare in minutes.

Eating pasta with fish is still not very popular in Australia (at the time of writing) but it is very much so in Italy and of course – Sicily. It is an island after all.

Spaghetti is usually the preferred shape of pasta for fish sauces.

Cherry tomatoes appear to have become very common in restaurants in Italy in the last few years. They are called pomodorini, or cigliegini in Italian and most commonly known as pizzitelli in Sicilian – little things.

Some of the cherry tomatoes in Australia may be small but they lack flavour and sweetness (maybe from over watering if this is possible in Australia). One of my friends in Adelaide is growing a variety called currant tomatoes in pots – very small and sweet and ideal for this dish.

Use any fish which will hold together when you sauté it.

Sicilians prefer tuna or swordfish, but because I like to use sustainable fish (pesce sostenibile) I select Albacore tuna when I can get it, tailor or flathead or snapper and mackerel . To keep the fish moist and to prevent it from overcooking, i keep the fish in large pieces when I cook it and then break it up onto smaller pieces.

From Australia’s Sustainable Seafood Guide by Australian Marine Conservation Society – 2009 (AMCS)

INGREDIENTS

spaghetti, 500g
fish, 500g, cut into dice
garlic, 5 cloves, chopped finely
cherry tomatoes, 1 punnet, if too big cut in half,
extra virgin olive oil, 1 cup
fresh herbs, use either: a handful of basil or parsley, or fresh mint,
white wine, 1 glass
salt and freshly ground pepper (or chilli flakes)
Cook pasta and make sauce as it cooks.
Heat the oil in a frying pan.
Sauté the fish ( you can keep it all in one piece if you wish), add the cherry tomatoes. Remove the fish and tomotoes from the pan but leave the juices in the pan.
Add the white wine and reduce .
Add the herbs and stir through the sauce.
Return the fish and tomatoes to the pan. Separate the fish into the size pieces that you wish.
Drain the pasta and return to the pan where it was cooked.
Mix in the sauce and serve.
Australia: