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Sicilian olio  


Sicilian olive oil matches well with vegetable pasta, pizza, caponata, fennel, a shredded cabbage salad, pork, fish, on tomatoes with basil, with mild cheeses, with broccoli and cauliflower, use it to make granola, try it on a simply grilled steak or to make other cuts of meat like the beef roulades below

zucchini carbonara

pasta con le zucchine alla Caltabellotta .. zucchini pasta 
trattoria la Ferla in Caltabellotta, impossibly high up in southwestern Sicily, serves this vegetarian carbonara 

serves 4
8 small zucchini sliced thinly into rounds
3 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
6 Tbs high quality extra virgin olive oil
hot pepper finely chopped         

1 egg     
handful of fresh basil, mint, parsley (you can add lemon zest)
3/4 lb long pasta like fettuccine or tagliatelle
ricotta salata (or pecorino romano)
In a large sauté pan warm the garlic and hot pepper in olive oil until it just begins to cook. Add the zucchini with salt to taste and sauté over medium-high heat until the zucchini is cooked and is beginning to brown around the edges. Turn off the heat and add chopped herbs.
Meanwhile, boil the pasta in salted water. Lightly beat a egg yolk (or two) in a serving bowl, when the pasta is al dente remove it from

the water directly into the bowl with the egg yolk and stir quickly to coat the pasta without making scrambled eggs, stir in the zucchini and herbs, top with grated ricotta salata and a swirl of olive oil. 


pasta 'ncasciata .. cheesy Sicilian baked pasta 
this is a winter version of baked pasta

a summer version has a base of eggplant and tomato sauce
serves 6-8
1 cauliflower (about 2 lbs or 1 kg of white or other colored cauliflower)
1 onion
2-3 anchovy fillets

extra virgin olive oil
pinch of saffron threads
1 Tbs raisins
1 Tbs pine nuts, optional
350 g bucatini (or other long pasta)
big handful of grated pecorino cheese
handful of chunks of caciocavallo aka provola cheese or scamorza
2 eggs
ground black pepper
bread crumbs
high quality extra virgin olive oil

Chop the onion and sautèe in a few tablespoons of olive oil, when the onion is translucent add the anchovy fillets and let them melt into the onions. Boil the cauliflower florets in salted water until they are easily smashed with a fork. Remove the cauliflower and keep the water it was boiled in.
Let the raisins soften in a few tablespoons of the hot cauliflower water. Soak the saffron threads in a few tablespoons of the hot cauliflower water. Boil the pasta in the cauliflower water until it is about halfway done.   
In a big mixing bowl, smash the cauliflower with the back of a fork, add the onions and anchovy mix, the raisins with their water and the saffron with its water. Stir in the grated pecorino, the pieces of cacioca
vallo and some black pepper.
Lift the pasta from the water directly into the cauliflower mix, stir to coat, add two beaten eggs and mix well.
Oil a 9x13 lasagne dish, coat with breadcrumbs and fill with the pasta mix. Pat the pasta down to make sure it’s compact, cover with grated pecorino, a few tablespoons of olive oil and some bread crumbs. Bake at 180C/350F for about 25 minutes or until the top is golden brown. Serve hot or warm with a swirl of olive oil.

cheesy baked pasta
canned green tomatoes

pomodori verdi sott 'olio .. preserved green tomatoes
we use the last tomatoes of the season that don't have enough warmth to ripen 

these are great served with cheeses or next to a steak or grilled or oven roasted meats

firm green tomatoes

coarse grind salt


extra virgin olive oil

optional flavors: bay leaf, peppercorns, anchovy fillet, garlic clove, sliced hot red pepper 
sterile jars and lids


Wash the tomatoes and cut them into slices or quarters, layer them with coarse grind salt
in a colander and place a weight on top (you can place a dessert plate on top of the tomatoes and then place the fruit bowl or anything heavy on top of the plate). Let the tomatoes sit over night. 

Bring to a boil a stock pot with half water and half vinegar, enough liquid to generously cover the tomatoes. Rinse the salt off the tomatoes.

When the vinegar water boils, turn off the heat and add the tomatoes to the hot liquid, cover and let them sit for 1 hour.

Remove the tomatoes from the vinegar water, dry each slice thoroughly in an old towel and  pack them tightly into into sterile jars adding a bit of flavors if you like, such as a few black peppercorns and a bay leaf or some hot red pepper and an anchovy. Pack the tomatoes up to about 1 finger from the top, slowly pour extra virgin olive oil into the jars, let it settle, knock the jars a bit to encourage air bubbles to surface and add enough olive oil to cover the tomatoes. Screw on the lids just to close, do not force.

Place the jars in a stock pot of water to cover, bring to a boil, let boil for 30 minutes, turn off the heat and let the jars cool in the water so they form a seal. 

The tomatoes are ready to eat after a few days and stored in a cool dark place last all winter long.   

beef roulades

braciole messinesi .. beef roulades from Messina

serves 4


1 lb (600 g) beef cutlets thinly sliced, not quite 1/4 inch thick

5 oz (150 g) caciocavallo aka provola or scamorza, or provolone if you like a stronger flavor

1 clove garlic

10 oz (300 g) bread crumbs

1 Tbs grated pecorino or parmigiano

1 small bunch of flat leaf parsley

salt to taste

extra virgin olive oil

Finely chop the parsley and smash the garlic and salt with the back of a knife until

it forms a paste. Mix the parsley and garlic into the bread crumbs adding grated

cheese and more salt to taste. Slice the provola into chunky slices. Coat each side

of each piece of meat with olive oil and then with breadcrumb mixture.

Place 2 pieces of provola at the top end of each piece of meat, fold over the top edge, fold in the sides and roll to seal. Once all the cutlets have been filled fix them with double skewers.

Grill over hot coals for 4-5 minutes per side until cooked through and the cheese is melty or cook them in a frying pan with a bit of olive oil or in the oven at 200C/390F for about 15 minutes.

Aunt Ida's pound cake

braised leeks 

2 leeks

extra virgin olive oil

white wine



Pare the leeks leaving the root end intact. Divide them in half lengthwise and rinse them well under running water. 

In a cast iron skillet or fry pan cook them over medium heat with a few twigs of thyme, extra virgin olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan and a few tablespoons of white wine. Cover and let them cook until they start to take on color, turn them halfway through cooking adding a bit more wine or oil if the pan starts to dry out.  

You can turn them into a savory tart by baking a pastry crust blind at 200C/375F for 15 minutes, fill the crust with the braised leeks and any remaining cooking liquid, add a few chunks of a flavorful washed rind cheese and bake for 10 - 15 minutes more until the cheese is melty. 

aunt Ida’s pound cake

makes 1 tube pan, 2 large loaf pans or 3 smaller loaf pans
Aunt Ida used butter to make a memorable, super rich and velvety cake and it's just as good with olive oil. Eat a slice as is, serve it with some fruit preserves and lightly whipped cream, toast a piece for breakfast. 

1 cup (250ml) extra virgin olive oil 

3 cups (600g) sugar
seeds from 1 vanilla bean split lengthwise and scraped with the back of a knife

3 cups flour (450g)                    

9 eggs
Oil and flour the baking pans, and line with a piece of parchment paper cut to fit the bottom of the pan.
In an electric mixer, mix olive oil, sugar and vanilla until well combined. Add the eggs 3 at a time with 1 cup of flour until they are all incorporated, mix well after each addition.
Pour the batter into the prepared pans and bake at 325F/175C for 60-65 minutes (80 minutes for the tube pan) until the top is golden and a toothpick comes out with moist crumbs. Cool in pan. 


serves 6 - 8

3 medium eggplants

1 onion

2 carrots

4 celery stalks plus the tender leaves from the interior

2 cups tomatoes, coarsely chopped


fresh hot red pepper

basil if you have it, whole leaves

1/4 cup toasted pine nuts

handful of raisins or currants (leave them to plump in hot water for 5-10 minutes)

handful of capers, under salt, salt shaken off

15 or so large green olives

1/4 cup mead vinegar or white wine vinegar

2 Tablespoons honey


extra virgin olive oil

optional toppings:

small handful of chopped bitter chocolate

big handful chopped toasted almonds

grated orange zest

Peel the eggplant if you like in stripes, or leave the skin on and cut into (roughly 1 inch) cubes. Leave the eggplant in a colander sprinkled with very coarse salt for a couple of hours.

Roughly chop the onion, carrot, celery, celery leaves and tomatoes. Pit and roughly chop the olives.

In a frying pan with olive oil, sauté the onion, carrot, celery and celery leaves with the hot pepper until the carrots and celery have softened.

Add the tomatoes, cinnamon and basil if you have it and let it bubble over lively heat to reduce the tomatoes. Add the olives, capers, raisins, pine nuts and salt to taste. Continue cooking until the juice from the tomatoes has reduced but there is till some liquid left in the pan.

Make a well in the center of the pan and add the vinegar and honey stirring them together to dissolve the honey. Mix it all together and let it cook until the acrid aroma of the vinegar has boiled off but there is still some liquid in the pan.

Meanwhile, rinse the salt off the eggplant and dry it well by pressing it between two dish towels. In a separate pan fry the eggplant with just enough olive oil until it is soft and cooked through, even letting it brown a bit here and there. The eggplant will absorb the olive oil like a sponge releasing the oil back into the pan when it nears doneness When the eggplant is done let it rest on paper towels to remove any excess olive oil.

Stir the eggplant into the vegetable mixture. Serve barely warm, at room temperature or cold with some toasted almonds on top, a bit of coarsely grated chocolate from Modica (Bonajuto) and/or a sprinkling of grated orange zest.

braised leeks

bietola con la ricotta .. greens & ricotta 

greens, chard or spinach 


hot pepper, sliced into strips

garlic, peeled and smashed

olive oil 


lemon zest

Rinse and then either steam or boil the greens in salted water. Warm the garlic and hot pepper in olive oil until they release their aromas. Add the greens and stir to mix, adding salt to taste. When the greens are hot, turn off the heat and add the ricotta stirring gently to mix it in without breaking it up too much. Serve the greens topped with grated lemon zest and a swirl of olive oil. 

greens & ricotta
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