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Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Foody Series - Sizzle of Sicily with the Assiniboine Park Conservancy and the MLCC

Last night, back by popular demand, I had the pleasure of presenting these Sicilian recipes as part of the programming for the Assiniboine Park Conservancy in partnership with the MLCC. Education Coordinator for the Assiniboine Park Conservancy was Bonnie Tulloch with beverage pairings by MLCC Product Consultant, Jason Lavack.

The evening started with a reception beverage of Bolla - Proseco ($18.99) which, also paired nicely with the first course:

1. Insalata all'Eoliana
(Aeolian summer salad)
Paired with Poggio al Tufo - Vermentinio ($17.09)

Ingredients (serves 4)
200g cherry tomatoes, halved
1 Tropea or other red onion
a small handful of capers
8 slices of lightly toasted bread
1 clove of garlic (crushed or chopped very finely)
8 anchovy fillets chopped into largish pieces
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

While toasting the bread (thick slices), halve the cherry tomatoes, crush or finely chop the garlic and chop the anchovy fillets into large pieces. Cut the onion into thin rings and then place all the ingredients together in a bowl. Add some olive oil, season with salt and pepper and mix well.
When the bread is toasted put onto 4 plates, dribble with olive oil, add a few spoonfuls of salad on top and serve.

2. Caponatina di Melanzane(A very popular dish for antipasto.)
Paired with Cusumano - Nero d'Avola ($16.99) and Rocca Delle Macie - Vernaccia ($14.13)

(Sicilian eggplant relish)

This is one of Sicily’s most popular and versatile eggplant dishes. You can eat it with bread, as part of an antipasto, or as a side dish with hot or cold meats or fish. This is the original recipe from Palermo. A caponatina is a “small” caponata.

Ingredients (Serves 4-6)
600g meaty eggplants
6-8 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, sliced
2 celery hearts (inner heads only), cut into little chunks
5 - 7 ripe tomatoes, chopped
1 cup pitted green olives
1/4 cup salted capers, rinsed
1/2 cup slivered almonds
2 ripe but firm pears, cored, peeled and sliced
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cloves
1-2 tbs white sugar
50ml white wine vinegar

Ideally you want the pale violet type of eggplant, without too many seeds. Cut the eggplants into cubes the size of a walnut. Immerse in salted water for 1 hour, then drain, squeezing the water out. Pat the eggplants cubes dry.

Heat about 6 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil in a sauté pan and fry the eggplant cubes until golden. Scoop them out with a slotted spoon and set aside. Adding more oil to the pan if necessary, fry the onion until soft, then fry all the other ingredients, apart from the sugar and vinegar. Simmer for about 20 minutes.

Add the eggplant to the mixture with the sugar and wine vinegar. Taste for salt and cook for another 10-15 minutes. Caponata can be eaten warm but it is also delicious cold.

3. Spaghetti con i piselli e mentuccia

(Spaghetti with peas and fresh mint)

Paired with Perone - an Italian beer ($2.14)
Ingredients (serves 4)
600g spaghetti, broken into 5cm-long pieces
400g fresh or frozen peas
2 cloves of garlic
1 small onion
1 glass of dry white wine
1 small chilli pepper
1 handful of fresh mint
2 tsps white wine vinegar
1 tsp sugar
Extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper

Finely chop the onion, the garlic and the chilli pepper. Soften the onions in some olive oil and add the garlic and chilli. Add the wine and let the alcohol evaporate. Then add the peas and mix well.

In the meantime, heat some water for the pasta. When boiling, add salt and break the spaghetti into it. Add some of the pasta water to the peas, just enough to cover them. Season with salt and pepper and leave them to cook slowly, making sure there is always a couple of cm of liquid.

Chop the mint finely and place in a glass. Add the vinegar and the sugar and mix well and then stir into the peas.

When the spaghetti is cooked, add to the peas and mix well, making sure there is still plenty of liquid. Serve with a little grated Parmesan cheese.

Finished with a very light and simple dessert;

Stuffed Grilled Figs
Beautifully paired with Masi - Recioto ($49.83)

1 lb fresh figs
parmesan reggiano
balsamic reduction

To make the Balsamic Reduction:

Heat a saucepan over high heat. Add a cup of balsamic vinegar to the pan and reduce liquid by half. Take pan off of heat immediately.

To make the stuffed figs:

While the balsamic is reducing, heat your broiler on high. Cut the figs in half lengthwise, (but do not cut all the way through). Stuff with Parmesan cheese, cheddar is also good (you can also then wrap the figs with prosciutto), place under the broiler for about 3-4 minutes or until cheese is browned. Serve with balsamic reduction drizzled over top.

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