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.
On our trip to Sicily and the Aeolian Islands, we have the opportunity to prepare dishes using traditional Sicilian ingredients, including an expectedly delicious twist on ice cream – with salty, pungent capers.
Capers are one of Sicily’s main crops, and are meticulously picked by hand and then either pickled or salted to preserve them and give them their distinctive taste. Traditionally served in savory dishes, our capers ventured their way into some ice cream!
The ice cream was served in a “roof tile” made out of Sicilian chocolate. This chocolate is equally as special because the sugar is added into the chocolate after it has cooled, so it does not melt, giving the chocolate a grainy – and delightful – texture. More info can be found HERE on one of the oldest chocolate factories in Sicily.
L’abc 2013. 100% Sangiovese made by wine lovers Adriano Zago, Bernardo Conticelli and Ciro Beligni from vines grown 600 meters high in Lamole, in Chianti Classico. Vinified first in stainless steel, then terracotta amphora, then wood. It’s a very pretty wine with high cherry notes which were gorgeous on the palate with some organic, free-range Iberico ham from Finca Montefrio that I brought back from Seville and a savory pate that I made with capers and dried pachino cherry tomatoes from my recent trip to Sicily. It was fun to share with Bernardo who was sweet to bring me his wine to taste.
From Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/p/BGXE0cZn_x9/
This past May while in Sicily for our Culinary Adventure, Sicily: A Different Italy, we were served this succulent pork roast one evening at Case Vecchie in Regaleali. We paired the pork with artichokes covered in breadcrumbs, a light green salad just harvested from the organic gardens, roasted potatoes with saffron, and delicious wines from the surrounding vineyards. Magical evening indeed.
1.5 kilo pork roast with bones
attached, at room temp
salt to taste
4 garlic cloves
small bunch fresh mint, minced
1 lemon juiced
½ cup white wine
Optional: dried herbs from Case Vecchie — a blend of dried rosemary, sage, bay leaf, mint, catnip, geranium, orange peel, chile and garlic powder. [Read more…]
Fennel is a winter vegetable commonly used in Italy, but not so common in America. During our Culinary Adventures in Tuscany, Amalfi, Sicily and the Aeolian Islands we sample this vegetable in a variety of uses. Its delicate and somewhat licorice aftertaste makes the celery-like texture delicious — either eaten raw, dipped in extra virgin olive oil and salt as in pinzimonio, or puréed into this delectable soup.
The addition of dried fennel flowers adds a summery highlight, along with the color contrast and exotic smattering of saffron. [Read more…]
While in Sicily for our Sicily: A Different Italy Cooking Adventure, we cook with Fabrizia Lanza and her fabulous team at the Anna Tasca Cooking School, in Regaleali. Their amazing organic gardens, delectable wines and wonderful hospitality make for an unforgettable experience in Sicily’s introterra. And their delicious almond and olive oil cake and large selection of home-made jams make their breakfasts, guests’ favorites.
If you can’t join us in Sicily anytime soon, please try this recipe at home while thinking of endless vineyard vistas. And start planning a trip! [Read more…]
Who doesn’t love enjoying fresh pasta? In Regaleali we make delicious ravioli with our friend chef and cookbook author Fabrizio Lanza. This recipe is adapted from one of hers. Enjoy!
For the pasta:
1 cup flour
water as needed
For the filling:
2 cups ricotta
1/2 cup mint, chopped
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. nutmeg
salt to taste
To make the pasta, form the flour into a mound and crack the egg into the middle. Mix with your hands and add water as needed, until dough has an elastic consistency. Roll out into two strips.
2 cups fava beans
extra virgin olive oil
2 shallots, sliced thinly
1 small fennel bulb, sliced thinly
3 T yogurt
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 preserved lemon (optional)
salt to taste
mint for garnish
extra virgin olive oil
Shell fava beans and drop them into boiling water for 1 minute. Peel outside layer off. Set aside.
Tuna Sauce for Pasta
1 small onion, sliced very finely
2 cloves garlic, whole, in its skin
5 Fresh mint leaves
1/3 cup capers
Tomato concentrate, preferably the thick, dark red Sicilian version
Water from the pasta pot, to thin the sauce
2 cups Tuna, very fresh and cut in 1/2inch cubes
1 glass white wine
1/4 cup soft flavorful black olives, pitted
parsley, chopped finely
Saute the onion, garlic, mint and capers in the oil, making a soffritto. Add tomato concentrate and water and cook a few minutes then add the tuna. Cook the fish just through and then add the white wine and let evaporate. Add the olives and parsley, season to taste, and serve tossed with spaghettini.
My favored legume this spring, has been the black lentil, lenticchie nere. from Sicily. I have been buying them from a small vendor of grains and legumes in Sant’Ambrogio market, here in Florence. They reminded me of the dark mini lentils grown in volcanic soil from the tiny island of Ustica.
An ancient island, it was first inhabited by the Phoenicians. It’s older than the Aeolian islands and is actually the rocky top of a an undersea volcano. Ustica means dark rock~ therefore called the black pearl of the Mediterranean. Today it stands protected as a marine reserve.
I walked the 2 mile radius of the interior through fields of wildflowers. Typical of the Med, I came upon wild figs, wild capers, wild prickly pears, yet cultivated almond groves and bean fields. Islands are usually known more for their fish and this is surely the case here. I rode around in a ‘gomone’, (a raft with a motor) in the surrounding sea. I saw medusa’s in a natural pool in the rocks that I almost jumped into. The water was inviting, crystal clear and fresh. Exactly what the jellyfish thought as well. Their presence means as much. Exhilarating would have been an understatement had I showed up a minute before. Here on the island, lentils are served with fish. Not a usual combination. Yet, from the point of view of local; what grows together, goes together. [Read more…]