It’s been over a month since I published anything, and I’m quite ashamed of that fact. Therefore I am making a promise to myself and to anyone who sees this to publish ten articles this month. There. I have to do it now…
Paccheri con pesce spada e melanzane from Sicily
I am a huge fan of swordfish. It’s meaty like tuna, but with a more delicate flavour which means it is perfect both as a steak and used as an ingredient in other recipes, such as this pasta recipe made by my friend Carlo at a recent dinner party
Just about everywhere in Sicily you will find lots of recipes with aubergines, tomatoes and seafood. For me, the aroma and flavour of this dish broght back the busy, bustling streets of Palermo and the hidden yet incredibly popular street trattoria where we squeezed in alongside the locals and sat eating fish and drinking wine until practically dawn. I remember that place so much more clearly than most of the posh restaurants that I have been to since, for its atmosphere, the genuine flavours of the food, the friendliness of the staff and the way it seemed not just to be a meal but a true expression of Sicilian life.
To recreate the taste of the Palermo street restaurants, you will need (serves 4)
2 generous fresh swordfish steaks
Some ripe tomatoes
One large (or two small) aubergines
350g of paccheri pasta (or penne if you can’t get paccheri)
half a glass of white wine
Salt and pepper to taste
A really important thing to remember with this dish (and all Italian dishes, to be honest) is that the quality of the ingredients is of the utmost importance. The flavours come from the ingredients, so please, fresh fish, good quality pasta and olive oil, and good, fresh, possibly organic veggies and you are half way there.
1. Chop the aubergines up into small chunks, crush the garlic, and gently fry until golden brown. Remove and blot the excess oil – aubergines are like sponges and can absorb far too much.
2. Remove the skin from the swordfish steaks, and cut into chunks. Seal these in the oil with the garlic. After one minute, throw in the wine and allow to evaporate on a low heat.
3. In the meantime, boil up the water for the pasta – you know this bit!
4. Once the wine has cooked off, add the tomatoes and the aubergines. Allow these to cook down into a sauce, adding salt to taste.
5. Once the pasta is cooked, drain and toss together with the aubergine and swordfish mix. Serve with freshly ground black pepper (optional) and a glass of white wine (practically obligatory).
Now just sit back, enjoy and imagine you are in Palermo…