mercoledì 28 ottobre 2009

Spaghetti with cuttlefish ink

There is a first dish made of seafood, which is really curious for taste and for its very particular aesthetic. The spaghetti with cuttlefish ink, a dish from the color black, not always attractive, for someone it is too strange, for others is mysterious and charming, but above all taste amazing and really good.

Ingredients for 4 people:
500 g spaghetti, 250 g of cuttlefish, 3 cloves of garlic, 500 g of peeled tomatoes, half a glass of white wine, extra virgin olive oil, parsley, red pepper, salt.

Clean and chop the cuttlefish , be careful to pick the bag with black and put it in a dish apart.
In a saucepan sauté the chopped garlic in the extra virgin olive oil, add the chopped cuttlefish. Later pour the wine. Add the tomatoes peeled and chopped, add salt and cook for about 20 minutes.

Add a pinch of red pepper, chopped parsley and finally add the squid ink contained in the bag. Cook the spaghetti "al dente", and mix into the pan with the sauce.
Garnish with chopped parsley.


The month of November begins with a very important feast, "All Saints", but the day more celebrated is the next November 2nd, the celebration of the dead, here called "the feast of the dead."

During this day, in Palermo, in the past, but the majority of people, still now, went to the cemetery to visit their relatives passed away.

They organized for the occasion a sort of picnic, carrying with them food to be consumed quickly outdoors.

Tradition has it that now, regardless of whether you go to the cemetery, in Palermo in the morning of this day, people eat " a muffuletta", round loaves with sesame seasoned with extra virgin olive oil, sardines (or anchovies), extra virgin olive oil , salt, pepper, oregano and vinegar.

"A muffulette" can be seasoned "cold", or you can first heat the oil in a pan with the sardines, to further flavor the whole.
Another version of the muffuletta is with oil, salt, pepper, oregano, anchovies in olive oil and fresh ricotta.

"Pasta c'anciova". Pasta with anchovy and tomato extract

There is a first dish among the most important in the cuisine of Palermo, one of the most typical for its special taste that blends the sweet and salty.This dish was born, perhaps, as an alternative to the most famous pasta with sardines, whose preparation was, however, limited to the period when it could easily find fresh sardines and fennel of mountain, the beginning of spring.

Of course now we can cook this pasta in all seasons, thanks to the freezers that allow to freeze and thaw the necessary ingredients all year, although the flavor of fennel freshly picked remains unsurpassed.
But until some years ago there were no freezers, and so making pasta with sardines, in its original form, was limited to the spring season.
Another factor not to underestimate was the cost quite high of the saffron, that not everyone could afford, and it is perhaps for these reasons that people of Palermo invented a new dish that looked very tasty like the more famous original, reinventing a similar taste, sweet and salty, with the presence of fish and where the yellow saffron was replaced by the tomato extract.So is a sort of sister of the pasta with sardines, but with ingredients still poorer and always available, because are "not fresh", but "products of conservation" and therefore always present and especially also easily transportable.

Some sources say that "pasta c'anciova", was invented by the emigrants, that brought with them a big number of products from their homeland which then transported in the cold North not to forget the taste of Sicily. Some people infact give to this dish the name "milanisa pasta", a pasta completely Sicilian, but invented in Milan.

Another hypothesis is that this pasta was invented by the laborers, who could easily prepare this pasta during breaks of their hard work, because the ingredients could be easily transported and the preparation was quite rapid.

The "pasta c'anciova" is very good, in Palermo to cook this dish is used exclusively the format "margherita" that collects the sauce deliciously.

The basic ingredients are tomato extract, which in summer is prepared in all the houses in the countryside by putting under the sun the tomato pulp to dry for several days, obtaining a concentrate tomato very tasty.

I remember the characteristic odor emanated from the tomato under the sun, a bit sour, pungent, very intense, a smell so to say "family", "ancestral", one of those smells that breaths during childhood and never more you can forget it, because it becomes part of you, as a sort of genetic background of olfactory memories.
Another ingredient, the anchovy under oil or under salt, then raisins, garlic or onion, and pine nuts (for their antibacterial function) and the "muddica atturrata" (toasted bread crumbs) .

The combination is truly unbeatable!

Ingredients: 400 gr pasta margherita, half onion, a clove of garlic, some anchovies in oil, 200 grams of tomato extract (you can also use the concentrate in cans), 100 grams of bread crumbs, a handful of raisins and pine nuts, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper.

Preparation: Chop finely the onion and sautè with oil. As soon as is ready join a garlic clove and the anchovy fillets (thornless and rinsed) and continue to sauté. Add the tomato extract and a bit of hot water (one or two cups), add the raisins and pine nuts. Cook for about fifteen minutes until the sauce is fairly thick.

Apart prepare the “muddica atturrata”: put in a small frying pan a little oil (someone adds anchovies, but it would be an exaggeration), breadcrumbs, salt and pepper. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon, until it reaches an amber color.

When everything is ready, it's already time to cook the pasta in water with salt, drain, put again in the pan with the sauce, divide the plates, sprinkle each plate of pasta with plenty of bread crumbs and finally re-add the sauce.
A small note, someone prepares this sauce without onion, only with the garlic, others only with onion. I prefer to use them both the ingredients and the result is excellent. Some people use anchovy paste, but is good only in times of emergency. For those who did not have extract of tomatos "homemade", can substitute it with tomato paste available in all supermarkets, taste is slightly different, less intense, but still pleasant.

"I pulpetti of Sardines cu Sucu" (balls of sardines in tomato sauce).

This is a typical recipe of the “Sicilian poor cuisine”, of which the sardines are often the main ingredient, given their cheap cost. The typical sweet and sour flavor is given by the combination of fish with raisins and mint. The pine nuts were used in the past mainly because of their antibacterial function, since it was sometimes cooked "pisci fitusu" (not really fresh fish).

500gr of sardines, 1 egg, 100gr of grated cheese, mint leaves, a handful of pine nuts and raisins, 500 gr of tomato sauce,onion, extra virgin olive oil.

Clean and flake the sardines, remove the head, get the fillets and chop. Bringing them together with cheese, egg, raisins and pine nuts and chopped mint. Mix everything together and get some balls. Fry in oil and put them in a dish.
Meanwhile prepare the tomato sauce, flavored with a sauteed chopped onions and some mint leaves. Put the balls in the sauce and cook them for about fifteen minutes. Whoever wants to can dress with this sauce a good plate of pasta.