A style of Sicily: caponata, pasta with sardines and apricot ricotta cake — recipes



We arrived in Sicily in a snarling temper. The journey had been depressing, however we’d lucked out on the vacation spot. Our Airbnb turned out to be a sumptuously baroque home with marble fireplaces, vintage terracotta tiles and a sweeping stone staircase.

Better of all, it was on a non-public property surrounded by an abundance of fruiting timber — veteran, gnarled olives, almonds, oranges, lemons, figs — with Mount Etna looming within the background, smoke billowing from her core, blessing the soil and no matter blossomed from it along with her volcanic eruptions. I stood squinting on the sky amid a symphony of hen calls and the hum of bees, the thud of ripe fruit surrendering to gravity. My London fatigue evaporated.

With our bellies rumbling we drove into city searching for lunch, however we’d forgotten that Sicilians love a siesta. The retailers had been shut and the piazza had emptied out in order that the nice snooze might ensue. Doggedly, we adopted our noses to the nice and cozy waft of a trattoria the place the clatter of cutlery rang out from behind a door left ajar. Inside, convivial diners sat round lengthy tables with platters of cheeses and cured meats, small, marinated fish, oiled up buxom tomatoes and a lot extra.

It was a non-public celebration, the christening of a dimpled child who turned out to be the proprietor’s granddaughter. Our attraction offensive paid off they usually agreed to allow us to have a desk on the terrace so long as we had been joyful to eat no matter got here out of the kitchen. We accepted gratefully.

Gastronomically talking, Sicily is the assembly place of no less than two main traditions, the Arab and the southern Italian. The end result, as we found that afternoon, is a succession of thrills: an imposition of spices on the homegrown, candy and bitter sauces made with tart capers and candy raisins and desserts wealthy with nuts and ricotta.

It was fairly the culinary parade: a bottle of Etna Rosso perfumed like a Catholic church, bowls of strong caponata, sardines swimming in grassy olive oil, mountains of ricotta salata grated over pasta alla Norma and a cake bursting with fruit and booze served in a pool of cream. As I do each time I’ve a superb meal, I am going dwelling and attempt to recreate its magic. So right here’s a style of Sicily — no Air Miles required.


© Aaron Graubart

Serves 6

  1. Warmth half the oil in a big frying pan over a medium-high warmth. Add the aubergine in batches and stir often till golden, then drain on a plate lined with kitchen paper. Add the remaining oil to the pan and fry the onion, celery and pepper and stir often till they’re very tender — this may take 8-10 minutes. Sprinkle within the cinnamon and the garlic and fry till aromatic, after which add the tomatoes, sugar and 250ml water and simmer till decreased by half. Return the aubergine to the pan and simmer till tender and the combination is decreased to a thick sauce. Take away from the warmth and stir within the olives, capers, currants and vinegar. Season and funky to room temperature. Serve scattered with the basil and parsley and a beneficiant drizzle of additional virgin olive oil.

Pasta con le sarde

© Aaron Graubart

Serves 4


  1. Start by making the pangrattato. Preheat the oven to 180C. Combine collectively all of the components in a small bowl, unfold out on a baking sheet and bake for 10-Quarter-hour or till golden and crisp. Put aside.

  2. In a small saucepan, convey the wine to a simmer and take it off the warmth. Add the sultanas and saffron and go away to infuse.

  3. Season the sardines. Drizzle them with a bit of oil after which fry for two minutes on all sides till golden, crisp and cooked by. Put aside and maintain heat.

  4. Warmth the remaining olive oil over a low-medium warmth. Add the fennel and fennel seeds and prepare dinner till tender. Pour within the wine and sultanas, convey to the boil, then cut back the warmth and prepare dinner for 10 minutes or till the liquid has virtually evaporated.

  5. In the meantime, prepare dinner the pasta in a big saucepan of boiling salted water, drain and return to the pan together with the fennel. Add the sardines, the parsley and half the pangrattato, then toss gently to mix. Serve instantly, scattered with remaining breadcrumb combine and a few lemon wedges.

Apricot ricotta cake

© Aaron Graubart

Serves 6

For the sponge

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C and calmly butter and line a 20cm cake tin with greaseproof paper.

  2. Add the apricots, sugar and Moscato to a pan and simmer for 5 minutes till they’re tender however nonetheless holding their form. Take away the pan from the warmth and put aside.

  3. In a big bowl beat the entire egg, the yolks, sugar and seeds from the vanilla pod till pale and thick. Slowly add the cooled butter adopted by the ricotta to the thickened eggs. As soon as the batter is clean, fold by the flour, baking powder and salt. Spoon the combination into the tin and clean the highest with the again of a spoon. Peel the pores and skin off the apricots and prepare them over the batter, gently pushing in a bit of. Scatter flaked almonds evenly over the floor of the cake. Reserve the syrup for later.

  4. Place the cake into the center of the oven and prepare dinner for 20-25 minutes or till a skewer comes out clear when inserted into the centre. In the meantime, cut back the Moscato syrup over a medium warmth till thickened and brush over the floor of the cake.

  5. Enable the cake to chill within the tin earlier than slicing and serving. Serve with cream if desired.

Ravinder Bhogal is chef-patron of Jikoni. Comply with Ravinder on Instagram @cookinboots and Twitter @cookinboots

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FTWeekend Competition, London

Jikoni chef-patron, Ravinder Bhogal will likely be cooking peaches with silken tofu & Thai basil gremolata on Saturday, September 3 at FTWeekend Competition. Register at the moment.

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