Real Sicilian pizza isn’t covered with gooey melted mozzarella. It has a simple sauce flavored with a little onion, some grated pecorino, and breadcrumbs – with or without anchovies, it’s up to you.
(if you want to make your own dough click here – I get mine in a pizzeria)
Sauté the onion in oil with black and red pepper until it’s translucent. Add ½ cup of water and raise heat until it almost evaporates. Add the tomato puree and bring to a simmer. Allow the sauce to cool. When cool add the bread crumbs, cheese, and anchovies. Taste for seasoning. The cheese and anchovies can be salty so you may not need any additional salt.
Pre-heat the oven to 400o. Spread the dough in an oiled 9 by 13 baking sheet. Spread the sauce mixture over the dough in an even layer leaving about ½ inch of the dough exposed around the edges.
Drizzle it with 2 or 3 tablespoons of olive oil and bake for 30 minutes. When it’s done sprinkle with oregano.
After our visit to Terranova, we went to Sicignano degli Alburni to find someplace for lunch. A local guy recommended a trattoria in nearby Scorzo called Si Ma Quant Sit? Every meal we had in Italy was excellent but that two hour lunch at Si Ma Quant Sit? was the best. And we just found it by a lucky accident.
Dopo la nostra visita a Terranova, siamo andati a Sicignano degli Alburni per trovare un posto per il pranzo. Un ragazzo del luogo ha consigliato una trattoria nel vicino Scorzo chiamato Si Ma Quant Sit? Ogni pasto che abbiamo fatto in Italia è stato eccellente, ma quel pranzo di due ore al Si Ma Quant Sit? era il migliore. E l’abbiamo appena trovato per un fortunato incidente.
The menu was on a board on the table listing antipasti, pasta, and prima piatto. We started with the antipasto – some local cheese, prosciutto, capicola, and soprasade. We thought that would be it, but the owner, Raffale kept coming to our table adding things to our dishes – frittata, eggplant parmigiana, eggplant in vinegar, and on and on.
Il menu era su una tavola sul tavolo che elenca antipasti, pasta e prima piatto. Abbiamo iniziato con l’antipasto – alcuni formaggi e prosciutto locale, capicola e soprasade. Pensavamo che sarebbe stato il proprietario, ma Raffale ha continuato a venire al nostro tavolo aggiungendo cose ai nostri piatti – frittata, parmigiana di melanzane, melanzane in aceto e così via.
We were afraid we wouldn’t be able to eat the pasta course but we did.
We said we were too full for dessert but Lucia gave us some strawberries in wine anyway.
From Lucia’s garden
Raffale’s dogs wanted Bridget’s doggie bag.
Raffele and Simone
Strada Statale 19, 84029 Sicignano degli Alburni
Chili-Olive Oil Infusion
Raffale asked if I wanted some pepper for my pasta. He put a little jar of olive oil infused with dried chili on the table. It wasn’t just spicy, it had a distinct pepper taste. I asked how it was made. He gave me some to take home and got Lucia from the kitchen and she explained.
Raffale mi ha chiesto se volevo del pepe per la mia pasta. Mise sul tavolo un vasetto di olio d’oliva infuso con peperoncino secco. Non era solo piccante, aveva un sapore di pepe distinto. Ho chiesto come è stato fatto. Mi ha dato un po ‘da portare a casa e ha preso Lucia dalla cucina e lei ha spiegato.
Remove the stems and coarsely chop dried red chilis
Heat them in a dry frying pan for a few minutes until you can smell them.
Add some oil and sauté on low until the pepper softens. Put it all in a jar, add some more oil and in a few days, it’s ready.
If you’ve been following my blog you know that I don’t use packaged food products – until now. I was browsing in a grocery store in Amalfi in Southern Italy and noticed a clear cellophane package of dried lemon, onions, capers and other things called, “Spaghettata con Limone e Tonno.”
It was only 2 Euros so I bought it. The English translation of the preparation was a little confusing but I figured it out.
All I had to do was add 3 ingredients – water, olive oil, and tuna.
The preparation was easy and it was delicious. I tried to Google a location where I could buy some more but no luck. I guess next time I want it, I’ll have to go back to Amalfi or make it from scratch.
From scratch –
¼ cup olive oil
1 finely chopped garlic clove
grated zest of 1 lemon
juice of ½ lemon
2 tbsps. chopped capers
Salt and black pepper to taste
1 – 8 oz. jar of imported tuna packed in olive oil
This is the first time I’ve ever made potato croquettes. They were pretty tasty but it wasn’t easy. Mashing the potatoes was hard work and breading and frying the croquettes was time-consuming and sloppy. Maybe it gets better with practice but the next time I want potato croquettes, I think I’ll just go to a Sicilian-run pizzeria and buy them.
Boil the potatoes in their skins for 30 to 40 minutes. Drain them and let cool 15 minutes then peel. Mash the potatoes and let them come to room temperature uncovered so they dry out.
Add 2 eggs, the Parmigiano, 5 tbsps. flour and parsley. Taste and season with the salt and pepper. Use an ice cream scoop or a spoon and take some of the potato mixture and form it into a small canoe-shaped roll.
Roll the croquettes in the flour and shake off excess. Then dip the beaten egg. Drip off excess and then roll in the breadcrumbs. Let the breaded croquettes rest 20 minutes before frying.
Heat oil until a bit of the potato dropped into it sizzles. Fry the croquettes turning until they are evenly golden browned on all sides. This should make about 20 to 25 croquettes.
I just got these at a local green market. Making stuffed zucchini flowers isn’t an exact science so I can’t give you exact ingredient measurements.
I got about 20 flowers and started by pulling out the pistil. It’s hard and takes up room that can be used for stuffing.
I mixed 3 heaping tablespoons of ricotta with 1 tablespoon of grated Parmigiana. I tasted it and it didn’t need any additional salt. I put 1 to 2 espresso spoons of stuffing into each flower depending on their size. The petals stick to the stuffing so there’s no need to tie them.
I rolled them in flour and then beat an egg with 2 tablespoons of cold water to thin it. I dipped them in the egg wash and then rolled them in the flour again.
Fry them until they’re yellowish-gold, drain and serve.
A few weeks ago, I posted a recipe for Anchovy Tomato Sauce that I got from a pizzeria chef I know. I thought it was pretty good. A friend of mine showed it to his Sicilian grandmother who, to put it mildly, didn’t approve of it. The differences in the two recipes don’t seem too extreme to me but to her, there’s a world of difference. Out of respect for Nona Filomena, I’m posting her recipe. I tried them both and prefer Nona’s.
Filomena didn’t exactly give me a breakdown of ingredients and preparation so I’ll paraphrase our phone conversation and fill in a few blanks.
“You start with a small can of alici (anchovies) in a frying pan with some oil (olive). When they start to dissolve, put in your garlic (2 cloves) finely chopped so you don’t mistake it for a pinole. You cook that a little bit (5 minutes)and then put in a small can of paste (6 oz.). Stir it until it absorbs the oil and then a little of the pasta water to thin it, but not too much. Put in the pinoles (pine nuts) and currants (about 1/3 cup each). Now, a little sugar (two teaspoons) to cut the acid of the tomatoes. Let it cook until it’s done (about 20 minutes) and maybe if you need it, a little more pasta water. You should taste it then. There’s probably enough salt from the alici but if you like it salty you might want more. No cheese with this but you put a bowl of fried breadcrumbs on the table and people help themselves.”
A few of Nona Filomena’s comments:
No parsley in this sauce. It doesn’t belong.
You make this with fettuccine. No other kind of pasta.
You don’t put the toasted breadcrumbs in the sauce as it’s cooking because they get soggy. You want them crisp.
It’s all right to finish cooking the fettuccine in the sauce but if you’re making two or three pounds when the whole family is coming, you don’t have to do that.
Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add the walnut pieces to the hot, dry pan. Cook, stirring frequently, until the walnuts are toasted and brown, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, make the pesto: combine the arugula, walnuts, and garlic in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. With the processor running, add the olive oil in a steady stream through the feed tube. Process until smooth. Add in the Parmesan and lemon juice. Pulse until incorporated. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Reserve 1 cup of the pasta water and drain pasta. Place in a large bowl and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil to prevent sticking. Add in the lemon zest. Toss.
Add the pesto into the pasta and stir to incorporate. If too dry, add a little of the pasta water. Taste and adjust seasonings. Stir in a few handfuls of arugula and top with the toasted walnut pieces. Finish with a healthy drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
This is the simplest pasta sauce I can think of. Just 3 basic ingredients – tomatoes, garlic and olive oil. You can use any kind of ripe fresh tomatoes or a 28 oz. can of San Marzanno tomatoes would work too.
These 3 ingredients plus pasta, water, salt and pepper make a meal. You can build on it with other ingredients. You can simply add some grated parmigiana, torn basil leaves and a few drops of olive oil when serving. Maybe brown some sausage or saute a few shrimp in the pan before you add the tomatoes then simmer them in the sauce. There are lots of possibilities.
Start the sauce by lightly sauteing the garlic in the oil until it’s pale orange, not brown. I prefer it cut into large pieces but do it any way you like. Use a low heat and take your time to flavor the oil. Add salt, black and red pepper depending on your taste. (You can stop right there if you want. In addition to being the base for lots of things, seasoned garlic and oil is all you need for a standard dish – PASTA AGLIO E OLIO.)
Add the tomatoes. They can be just roughly chopped alla rustica, or cored, skinned and de-seeded, depending on how much time you have. Let them simmer while the pasta water comes to a boil. As they soften you can break them up with the back of a wooden spoon.
When the pound of pasta is almost done, drain it and add it to the sauce to finish cooking. Instead of absorbing water the pasta can absorb some of the sauce. Add a bit of the pasta water to loosen the sauce.
This is a good summer recipe for a charcoal or gas grill. It also works indoors on a grill pan. It’s up to you but we like the inside just a little bit pink.
Marinade and Sauce
Cook for a few minutes on each side, depending on thickness, on a grill or a ridged pan. Don’t overcook. Grill a couple of lemon halves at the same time and squeeze them over the steaks when done. Serve topped with sauce.
Once you try this you may not go back to instant oatmeal. Steel-cut oats includes the whole oat kernel, cut up. These take longer to cook. Instead of cooking it for an hour or more, ignore the package directions and try it this way.
For 2 servings –
The night before – boil 2 cups of water with a little salt. Add one cup of oats (maybe with a handful of pomegranate seeds or dried currents), stir, turn off the heat and cover.
The next morning – add one cup of water (or ½ and ½ water and milk), stir, bring to a low boil then simmer for 10 minutes.