Not many dishes can characterize traditional Sicilian cuisine as much as Caponata, a Sicilian sweet and sour version of ratatouille.  Caponata likely took its name from one of its leading ingredients: capers.  Similar to most Sicilian dishes, Caponata likely originated from Catalonia, Spain or in Sicily during the time of Arab rule.  Those that believe the dish came from Catalonia, believe that the dish derived from the Catalan word “caponada.”  Caponada is loosely translated to mean a relish-style dish.  Regardless of its origin, Caponata first appeared in Sicilian etymology in 1709 and has continued to be a staple dish for local Sicilians.

INGREDIENTS

*Organic ingredients recommended

  • 6 tablespoons Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 pound eggplant, cut into ½-inch cubes (unpeeled)
  • 1 sweet yellow onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 ounces of diced tomatoes with Italian seasonings (canned)
  • 2.5 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons capers (drained)
  • ½  cup fresh basil, chopped
  • ¼ cup toasted pine nuts

PREPARATIONS

  1. In a large pot, heat Extra-Virgin Olive Oil over medium heat.
  2. Once warmed, add chopped garlic, diced onion, and cubed eggplant.
  3. For about 12-15 minutes, sauté the added ingredients until the eggplant cubes become soft and brown.  
  4. Next, add the Italian seasoned tomatoes (including the juice) and lightly stir.
  5. Add the drained capers and the red wine vinegar and cover the pot.
  6. Stirring occasionally, let the mixture simmer on low heat until eggplant cubes and onion are very soft, about 10-12 minutes.
  7. Once eggplant and onion are tender, add the fresh basil, and salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Sprinkle toasted pine nuts prior to serving.  
  9. Caponata can be served cold, warm, or at room temperature.
  10. Enjoy!

A Sicilian variation to the Genoese pesto dish of the Trapani province, Pesto alla Trapanese is a must try!  Originally introduced to Sicily by Genoese ships stopping at the port of Trapani from the East, variations of this dish have been re-invented in many regions of Sicily.  A common inclusion in the Sicilian rendition of this dish is almonds.  Almonds symbolize good fortune in Sicilian culture and are celebrated annually at the Almond Blossom Festival.

INGREDIENTS

*Organic ingredients recommended

  • 60 grams shelled almonds
  • 1 ½ cups of fresh basil leaves
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 7 tomatoes (vine-ripened if possible)
  • 4 tablespoons finely grated pecorino cheese
  • 8 tablespoons Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
  • 500 grams Sicilian Busiati pasta (or Linguine if Busiati unavailable)

PREPARATIONS

  1. Place shelled almonds in a bowl and pour boiling water onto the almonds and allow to sit for 3 to 5 minutes or until cool enough to handle.  
  2. Once cooled, slide the skins off the almonds by hand.
  3. Once the skins are removed, place the bare almonds in a non-stick frying pan and toast for 3 to 5 minutes until they are golden.
  4. Turn heat off of almonds, and combine the garlic, basil, and a pinch of sea salt into a food processor.  Then pour into a bowl.
  5. Next, remove the toasted almonds from the frying pan and place them in the food processor with another pinch of sea salt.  Process the almonds until they are the size of sunflower seeds.  
  6. Peel and dice the tomatoes.
  7. Pour the diced tomatoes and processed almonds into the bowl with the basil and garlic mixture.  Mixing well,  add the grated cheese and olive oil to the bowl.  
  8. Add pepper to taste and a pinch of salt.  Set bowl aside.
  9. Boil the pasta (al dente).
  10. Once boiled, drain pasta, keeping 3 cups of pasta water on the side.  
  11. Add the drained pasta to the bowl of pesto, mix thoroughly.  Add some of the reserved pasta water if necessary.  
  12. Serve hot and enjoy your traditional Sicilian dish!

From the gastronomic traditions of Cambria and Sicily, swordfish is known as a noble, local ingredient.  Extremely versatile, swordfish is used in some of the most refined Sicilian recipes.  Sicilians see the value of swordfish in that it can be easily paired with other local Mediterranean cuisine.  Swordfish travel vast distances, only found in the waters surrounding Sicily temporarily. Traditionally seasonal, swordfish is a perfect match for Etna Rosso wines because of its meatiness.

INGREDIENTS

*Organic ingredients recommended

  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 3 teaspoons sea salt
  • 3 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano (or 1 teaspoon dried oregano)
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • ⅓  cup Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2.5 pounds swordfish steaks, cut to a thinness of ½ inch

PREPARATIONS

  1. Whisk lemon juice with sea salt until the salt is dissolved.
  2. Add in oregano.  
  3. Slowly, add the Extra-Virgin Olive Oil and freshly ground pepper.
  4. Set mixture aside.  
  5. Heating the grill to high heat, place swordfish steaks as close to the heat as possible.
  6. Flip once after 4 minutes and continue cooking until cooked through, about 4 minutes.
  7. Remove swordfish from grill and place onto a platter.  Prick the swordfish steaks multiple times with a fork.  
  8. Mix the set aside sauce and drizzle over fish steaks allowing the sauce to penetrate the holes created with the fork.
  9. Serve warm and enjoy!

A Sicilian recipe most often made for traditional Sicilian Easter celebrations, the “Agnello alla Messinese” features lamb, a symbolic animal in some religious traditions. In the old Testament, lamb meat is correlated with Passover.  But in the Christian tradition, lamb represents the sacrifice of Jesus.  As one of the most popular meats in Sicily due to this religious value, lamb is considered a valued alternative to beef or pork.

INGREDIENTS

*Organic ingredients recommended

  • 2.5 pounds lamb
  • 2 glasses of red wine
  • ½ cup Pecorino cheese, grated
  • 1 cup black olives
  • ¼ cup Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

PREPARATIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 325°F.
  2. Chop lamb meat into 1 inch thick cubes and season with sea salt, freshly ground pepper, and Extra-Virgin Olive Oil.  
  3. Place marinated lamb and remaining marinade into a baking pan.  
  4. Add the red wine and Pecorino cheese to the baking pan and bake for 1 hour.  
  5. Remove from oven and flip the lamb pieces over.  
  6. Add water to the pan to avoid the meat drying out or sticking.  
  7. Serve hot and enjoy!

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