If there’s one word to describe Sicily’s Aeolian Islands: authentic. The collection of seven islands off the coast of Sicily are thriving and forward thinking, but deeply steeped in tradition that is a unique combination of Italian, Sicilian, and distinctly Aeolian. Whether it is the distant rumble from the active volcano on Stromboli, the breathtaking oceanic views, or the entrancing aromas from the seaside kitchens, we are hooked – and you will be too.
We had the privilege to cook alongside one of the Aeolian Islands’ most revered chefs, Michele Caruso, chef-owner of the magnificent Hotel Signum, one of our favorite places to stay on our adventure in September. He is the most unassuming, gentle and kind of souls, preferring to tend to the garden and chat with guests… he appears more like the gardener than the owner of such a successful hotel and restaurant. His daughter Martina, has taken over the kitchen at the hotel and has elevated its cuisine to the point of receiving her first Michelin star a few months ago. She still enjoys cooking with her dad, who is a true to the bone islander, full of authentic wisdom, and a wizard in the kitchen at that!
One of our favorite dishes that we prepared with Michele is so simple – a potato salad with lemon. However, the attention to detail and quality of the ingredients used makes this dish insanely tasty and instantly became one of our all-time favorites. Michele served this elegantly upon a lemon leaf and topped with seared fish, but it can easily be served as an excellent side dish to any meal… pared with some crisp Malvasia wine, of course!
Here’s the recipe to this oh-so-simple yet wonderful “patate al limone” aka Aeolian potato salad with a delightful, lemony twist:
1 pound potatoes (any kind you like, i.e. white, Yukon Gold, etc.)
Juice of 2 lemons
1 bunch parsley, chopped coarse (to taste)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (to taste)
Salt and pepper (to taste)
– Boil potatoes until cooked through and soft; use form or ricer to mash
– Season with EVOO, salt and pepper, chopped parsley and lemon juice
That’s all it takes to make this delicious, simple, and very Aeolian potato dish. It can be served on it’s own or with a light protein such as chicken or fish. Dry white wine (Malvasia for bonus points) is an excellent pairing to truly transport you to the Aeolian Islands!