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Recipes

Pairing Italian Food With Italian Beverages

Sicilian recipes are rich in history and tradition. These recipes have survived the generations, thanks to the local food producers who keep and preserve these old world recipes and make them suitable for modern times.

Sicilian recipes are sometimes enjoyed with wine. This explains why it is a family meal that you have together, even if it’s just for the family dinner. Sicilian recipes include dishes like pizza, spaghetti, seafood, meatballs, risotto, lasagna, and roasted vegetables. All of these recipes can be paired with different types of wines. Choose your favorite wine and pair it with your Sicilian recipe to make it a romantic dinner!

Another important thing to consider when pairing Sicilian recipes with wine is the season in which they were created. In fact, many Italian wine experts have discovered that Italian wines and dishes in general will go great together. Italian wines are native to the region where the dish was created, so the best wine would be the one from the area where the meal was created.

Tuscan wines are considered more suitable than Italian wine, as Italian wines do not possess as much of the taste of the Tuscan soil in which they were created. Italian wines are more expressive and flavorful; Tuscan wines do not have this quality and they are very rare.

Sicilian recipes may also be paired with spirits. However, Italian spirits can be considered more appropriate when paired with foods that they have been infused with, instead of a whole new kind of flavor. So, if Italian drinks aren’t something you are looking for, try choosing Italian spirits instead. The results are usually good and both flavors are able to work together in harmony.

Sicilian recipes may be paired with coffee or espresso. If you are having a coffee and espresso-style meal, you could choose between Italian made coffee or espresso and get a good blend. Both Italian made coffee are made of coffee beans, whereas Italian espresso is prepared with an espresso maker.

When pairing a spicy meal with Italian cuisine, try pairing a mild Italian soup with your dish. This will provide a little zing to help it go over well with the spicy flavor.

Sicilian recipes are very forgiving when it comes to making substitutions. Some may prefer their meat roasted in the oven, others may love grilled steaks, while some may prefer to eat a dish in its entirety. It’s up to you and your taste buds to decide which flavors will go well together and which ones will clash.

Sicilian Recipes – Vegetarian & Fish Entrees

Roasted Cod with Escarole Tomato Ragout

Serves 6

Cod with Escarole Tomato Ragout
1 head escarole, trimmed, outer leaves discarded
3 tbsp. olive oil
4 cloves sliced garlic
2 tomatoes, cored, peeled and seeded
2 cans (14 ½oz.) chicken brothSalt and pepper
Red pepper flakes to taste
1 can White Cannelini Beans (Goya)
¾-1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp. canola oil
2 ¼ pounds cod fillets, cut into 6 ounces each

Cut escarole into 2-inch pieces and rinse several times. Put a pot on medium high heat and add escarole still wet. Cover and cook for 5-8 minutes until tender. In a large skillet add oil and garlic. Cook until barely colored. Add tomatoes and cook 1 minute. Add escarole, broth, pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Add beans and cheese. Toss gently to heat beans and cheese. Salt and pepper fillets. Heat oil in a 12-inch non-stick skillet. Cook fish 3 minutes per side.


Sicilian Baked Pasta Gratin

Serves 6-8

3 tbsp. olive oil
2 peppers, red and yellow cut into ¼ inch strips
1 onion, sliced
2 cloves, minced garlic
Red pepper flakes to taste
1-2 lb. can whole plum tomatoes, drained
12 Calamata olives, pitted
¼ cup capers, rinsed¼ cup fresh basil
3 tbsp. olive oilSalt and black pepper
1 lb. thin spaghetti
1 cup grated pecorino cheese

Preheat oven to 400°In a 12-inch sauté pan heat oil. Add peppers and onions and cook till tender. Add garlic and pepper flakes. Cook for a few minutes more.Bring a pot of boiling salted water to boil.Put tomatoes, olives, capers and basil in a food processor and pulse coarsely. Add tomato mixture to the skillet and mix and reheat. Adjust seasonings.Cook pasta until al dente, drain and add to sauce mixing in cheese. Turn into a lightly oiled casserole and bake for 30 minutes.Note: You can assembly the dish and refrigerate up to two days ahead.


Lasagna with Eggplant

Serves 8-10

2 pounds eggplant, peeled & sliced ¼ inch x 1 inch
½ cup olive oil
Salt & pepper

Tomato Sauce (recipe follows)
2 cups Béchamel Sauce (recipe follows)

Recipe for 3 egg fresh pasta
1 pound Gruyere cheese, grated
2 tbsp. Butter

Preheat oven to 425°. In a bowl combine sliced eggplant, oil, salt and pepper. Arrange on two baking sheets in a single layer and cook for 15 minutes. Turn eggplant over and cook for 5 minutes more. Set aside. Lower oven to 400°.

Cook pasta in boiling salted water for 30 seconds. Dry on cotton towels.

Butter a 13×9 baking dish. Spread a layer of béchamel on the bottom of the dish. Make a layer of lasagna noodles. Add a layer of tomato sauce and eggplant, béchamel sauce and grated cheese. Continue until you have four layers of pasta. The final layer of pasta is covered with tomato sauce, béchamel and grated cheese. Dot with butter. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Let lasagna rest for at least 15 minutes before serving.

Tomato Sauce:3 tbsp. olive oil1 small onion, finely diced1 can Italian plum tomatoes, 1 lb.12oz.1 bay leafSalt & pepper1 tsp. sugar½ cup fresh basil, chopped

Cook onions with oil in a saucepan for 8 minutes. Break tomatoes up and add to the pan along with bay leaf, sugar, salt and pepper. Cook for 15 minutes. Cool and add chopped basil.

Béchamel Sauce:4 tbsp. sweet butter3 tbsp. flour2 cups hot milkSalt and white pepper

Melt butter over low heat. Add flour, stirring with a wooden spoon. Cook for 3 minutes. Off heat add milk stirring constantly. Add salt and white pepper to taste.. Turn heat to medium and whisk until mixture comes to a boil. Cook at a simmer for 5 minutes.


Warm Potato Salad

2 lbs. small white or red potatoes, peeled
Chicken broth to cover
Salt and black pepper
6 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves minced garlic
2-tbsp. parsley chopped
1 shallot chopped

Add potatoes to a saucepan with broth and place over high heat. Cook about 15 minutes.

In a bowl combine oil, garlic, parsley and shallots and mix well. Slice potatoes ¼ inch thick. Reserve broth. Add potatoes and toss with ½ cup reserved liquid. Season generously with salt and pepper. Keep warm. Add more cooking liquid if desired.

To serve, spoon potatoes in a bowl top with escarole mixture and its broth. Set a piece of fish on top.


Wonton Lasagna with Salmon and Wild Mushroom Sauce

Serves 8

2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. shallots, chopped
1 lb. mixed sliced mushrooms, shitake, crimini, and button
¼ cup white wine
½ cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper
½ lb. mascarpone
¼ cup Inglehoffer Thick-n-Creamy Horseradish
3 scallions green and white chopped
1 tbsp. chives, chopped
1½ lbs. salmon filet
Canola oil for sautéing
½ stick butter, melted, seasoned with salt and pepper
24 thin wontons, 3½ x 3½ inches square
2 scallions cut into thin rounds for garnish

Preheat oven to 425°.Heat butter in a skillet over medium heat and sauté shallots until softened. Raise the heat to high and add all the mushrooms, season generously and cook for 5 minutes. Add wine and cook until evaporated. Pour in cream and heat through. Set aside.In a large bowl mix together mascarpone, horseradish, scallions, chives and season with salt and pepper. Set aside.Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Brush seasoned melted butter on the paper and brush butter on both sides of the wontons. Place on the parchment paper and bake for 3-5 minutes or until golden brown.Slice salmon on an angle into thin pieces, about ¼ inch thick, cutting them into 3 x 3-inch pieces. Season with salt and pepper on both sides. In a large non-stick skillet heat 2-3 tablespoons of oil over high heat. Cook salmon for about 1 minute on each side and set aside on a plate. Reheat mushroom mixture.To assembly lasagna: Place a crisp wonton centered on a heatproof dish, next a piece of salmon on top with a tablespoon of mascarpone mixture and a tablespoon of mushroom mixture. Repeat again and then top off with the wonton, salmon, mascarpone and some chopped scallions on top. Decorate the dish with mushrooms and cream. Keep warm in the oven before serving. 


Linguini with Swordfish Sauce

Linguine with Swordfish Sauce, Sicilian Style Serves 6

Tomato and Swordfish Sauce:1 – two pound can San Marzano tomatoes I small onion, finely chopped I tbsp. minced garlic 2 tbsp. olive oil1/2 cup white wine1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes I sprig parsley I sprig basil I bay leafSalt and freshly ground black pepper I cup Perfect Addition fish stockI pound swordfish, cut into small cubes

Finishing the Dish:1 pound of linguini2 tbsp. extra virgin 1/2 dry breadcrumbs¼ cup parsley, basil, chives & lemon thyme, chopped

Puree the tomatoes in a blender. In a saucepan over medium heat, saut6 the onion and garlic with olive oil until soft. Add the white wine,, tomatoes, red pepper flakes, herbs, bay leaf and seasonings. Cook over low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the fish stock and bring the sauce to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer and add the swordfish. Cook for 2 minutes and turn off the heat. Preheat broiler. Cook the pasta in boiling salted water and drain.

In an ovenproof bowl, add the pasta and toss with the extra virgin olive oil. Spoon the tomato sauce with the swordfish over the pasta. Combine the breadcrumbs and herbs and sprinkle over the pasta. Place the pasta under the broiler and brown the breadcrumbs for several minutes.


Grilled Shrimp in Lemon/Herb Aioli Sauce

Serves 4-6

Marinade for Shrimp
1½ lbs. large shrimp, 16-20 count, peeled, deveined
2 cloves minced garlic
½ cup mixed herbs, chopped
Crushed red pepper flakes to taste
Juice of 2 lemons
¼ cup olive oilSalt and freshly ground black pepper
8-10 wooden skewers soaked in water for a few hours or overnight

With a small knife butterfly the shrimp by making a deep cut lengthwise down the back of each shrimp. In a bowl combine garlic, herbs, pepper flakes, lemon juice, oil and salt and pepper. Coat the shrimp with the marinade. Marinate for 1 hour.

Preheat broiler or grill. Weave 4 shrimp on each skewer and grill about 2-3 minutes per side.

Lemon Herb Aioli Sauce

6-8 anchovies
2 cloves garlic
Juice of 2 lemons
1 egg
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup fresh mixed herbs, finely chopped

In a food processor, combine anchovies, garlic, lemon juice and egg. Blend. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil. Add the chopped herbs in by hand. Transfer to a serving bowl and set aside.

Serve shrimp warm on a platter with aioli sauce.


Grilled Stuffed Eggplant Slices

Serves 8

2 eggplants, 1¼ lbs. each
¾ cup olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper
1 medium onion, chopped
One-14½ oz. can Del Monte Fresh Cut Tomatoes
Pinch of sugar
1 sprig of fresh basil
¼ cup imported Parmesan cheese, grated
1 egg yolk, beaten lightly
1 tbsp. wine vinegar
Basil leaves and Parmesan shavings for garnish

Trim eggplant and slice into ¾ to 1-inch rounds. You should have 20-22 slices. Preheat outdoor grill to medium heat or indoor grill pan to medium heat. Brush eggplant rounds with seasoned olive oil and cook for 10 minutes on each side. While the eggplant is cooking start the tomato mixture.

Heat 3 tablespoons of seasoned oil on medium heat in a saucepan. Add chopped onions and sauté for 6-7 minutes. Add tomatoes, pinch of sugar and sprig of basil. Cook for 20 minutes or until mixture is thick and pulpy. Remove basil and set aside to cool. As the eggplant is cooked, place on a lightly oiled sheet pan. Preheat oven to 400° Combine grated cheese, egg yolk and vinegar to tomatoes. Top half of the eggplants with tomato mixture and place remaining eggplant slices on top. Heat through in oven for 10 minutes.

Garnish with Parmesan shavings and basil.


Sun-Dried Tomato & Basil Risotto Fritters

Makes approx. 50 hors d’oeuvres

1 cup arborio rice
1 tbsp. fresh basil, chopped
½ pound mascarpone, room temperature
3 tbsp. sour cream ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, grated
½ cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
2 cups all purpose flour, seasoned with salt and pepper for dredging
3-4 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 ½ -3 cups fresh white breadcrumbs, * made in the food processor
2-3 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped fine
Salt and black pepper
Canola oil for frying

Prepare risotto following directions on the package. When cooked spread on a sheetpan to cool.

Transfer to a bowl and mix in basil, mascarpone, sour cream, Parmesan, sun-dried tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Shape mixture into 1-inch balls.

At this point you can refrigerate balls for three days or freeze for 1 month.

Set up 3 shallow dishes, one with seasoned flour, second with beaten eggs and third with breadcrumbs mixed with parsley. Lightly dredge fritters in flour, then eggs and breadcrumbs.

Refrigerate for 1 hour or overnight.

Heat a deep fryer or pot with oil, about 3 inches deep. Fry fritters for 3 minutes or until golden brown all over. Transfer to a sheet pan with a rack. Serve warm or make ahead and reheat in preheated 350° oven for 5 minutes.

*Use Portuguese Rolls or substitute Panko breadcrumbs which can be bought in an Asian store.

Sicilian Recipes – Antipasta

These Recipes are from some of the healthiest cooking styles in the world. Traditional Sicilian meals like these have been brought down over the centuries.

I’d like to share some with you. Courtesy of my cousin Diana Albanese a gourmet cook from Breille NJ. If you enjoy these recipes, please e-mail her to thank her for these freebies.

Fennel Stuffed with Cheese, Pinenuts & Raisins

Serves 6, makes 12 stuffed fennel pieces4 large round fennel bulbs, about 5 pounds½ cup canned chicken broth4 tbsp. Olive oilSalt & freshly ground black pepper½ cup onion, finely minced1/3 cup golden raisins, plump in warm water for 20 minutes1/3 cup pinenuts1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated2 eggs, beaten lightly2 tbsp. dry plain breadcrumbs2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

Preheat oven to 425°

Trim the base of the fennel bulbs. Cut across the tops and remove the stalks. Cut the fennel lengthwise in half and cut out the cores. Arrange the fennel in a shallow baking dish. Add the broth, 2 tablespoons oil, salt and pepper. Cover with foil and bake until almost tender when pierced with a fork, 35-40 minutes. Set aside to cool.

In a skillet over medium heat add two tablespoons of oil and sauté the onion until tender and lightly colored. About 8 minutes. Set aside in a mixing bowl.

Separate the fennel layers using about 12 of the larger layers to stuff. Take the smaller inner layers and chop into small dice adding to the onions. Combine drained raisins, pinenuts, cheese, eggs to the bowl with salt and pepper. Lightly oil a small baking dish and arrange the fennel halves so that they fit tightly. Put about 1 to 2 heaping tablespoons of the cheese mixture in the fennel sprinkle with breadcrumbs and drizzle with olive oil. Bake for 25 minutes or until topping is browned.

Antipasto Bruschetta

Makes 24-30 bruschetta1 loaf French bread, sliced and toasted lightly½ cup roasted red peppers13-½ oz. canned artichokes hearts¼ cup Calamata olives or green Sicilian cracked olives½ cup soppresata or salami, cut into ¼ inch cubes½ cup Asiago cheese or Parmesan cheese cut into ¼ inch cubesFresh black pepper2 tbsp. parsley, roughly chopped1 large garlic clove, cut in half3 anchovies, drained¼ cup olive oil +In a food processor, pulse peppers, artichoke hearts, and olives a few times to have a rough-cut. Transfer vegetables to a bowl and add diced soppresata, cheese. Season with pepper and mix. Can be made ahead and refrigerated up to 3 days ahead at this point.In a food processor puree garlic, parsley anchovies and oil. Set aside. Can be made ahead 1 day ahead.Preheat broiler. Spread 1 tablespoon of pepper and artichoke mixture on toasted bread. Drizzle some parsley and garlic mixture on top and cook for 4-5 minutes.


Caponatina

1-15 ounce can whole tomatoes, chopped
¼ cup Calamata olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
¼ Sicilian green olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
2 tbsp. capers, rinse ½ cup or more olive oil
2 eggplants, about 1 pound each, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 cup celery, diced
2 medium yellow onions, diced
2 tbsp. currants or raisins soaked in warm water
2 tbsp. pinenuts, toasted ½ cup good olive oil
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
Salt and black pepper to taste

Put the tomatoes, olives, currants and capers in a small bowl and set aside.

In a large skillet over medium high heat add 1/3 cup of oil. Add diced eggplant and cook for 15 minutes, browning on all sides. Taste for salt and pepper and place eggplant into large bowl. Lower the heat and add more oil to the pan if necessary and cook celery for 10 minutes. Taste for salt and pepper and add celery to cooked eggplant. Add more oil to the pan if necessary and cook onions until golden. Taste for salt and pepper. Add cooked eggplant and celery to the cooked onions in the skillet. Add tomato mixture and all the other ingredients. Cook for 20 minutes. Serve at room temperature or cold. Can be made up to a week ahead.


Goat Cheese Marinated with Tomato Oil & Garlic
Served with Grilled Garlic Bread

Serves 16-20

1½ cups olive oil
4 medium ripe tomatoes, cored, peeled, seeded and diced
6 medium garlic cloves, minced
2 sprigs fresh thyme
Red Pepper flakes to taste
Salt and plenty of freshly cracked black pepper
Three-10.5 oz. logs French Goat cheese, well chilled Fresh sprigs of herbs
2 French Bread loaves, sliced, grilled and rubbed with garlic

In a saucepan combine oil, tomatoes, garlic, thyme, pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Bring to boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Discard thyme. Transfer to a bowl and cool completely. Place chilled goat cheese on a cutting board. Using a serrated knife dipped in hot water slice the cheese into ¼” pieces. Transfer to a gratin serving dish. Spoon the tomato mixture on top of the logs. Season with black pepper. Garnish with fresh herbs and serve with grilled bread. Do-Ahead Notes: Make the tomato oil 3 days ahead. Marinate goat cheese logs with tomato mixture one-day ahead of the party. Grill bread the morning of the party. Decorate with fresh herbs before serving.


Grilled Caesar Salad

Serves 6

1 large garlic clove cut in half
6-8 oil packed anchovies
3 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. mustard 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
½ cup olive oil ¼ cup water or more if needed
3 hearts of Romaine lettuce
½ cup pinenuts
½ cup shaved Parmesan cheese

1. In a food processor add the garlic, anchovies, cheese, vinegar, Worcestershire, mustard, lemon, pepper and process until blended. Scrape down the sides of the processor. With the motor running slowly add the oil. If it is too thick add water. The dressing can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator for 1 week.

2. Preheat the broiler

3. Trim the ends of the Romaine hearts but leave intact. Slice the hearts in half lengthwise and place cut side up on a sheetpan. Brush the dressing over the lettuce leaves making sure that it goes in between the leaves. Sprinkle the pinenuts on the tops of the hearts.

4. Set the sheetpan on the top shelf in the oven and cook for several minutes. The lettuce will start to wilt and brown lightly. Remove promptly from the oven and sprinkle the Parmesan shavings on top. Serve warm.

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