Sicilians have perfected the art of food presentation, where even the simplest dish becomes a work of art. Sicilian vegetable dishes are usually elaborate preparations, often with many ingredients added to the main vegetable to create complex flavours.
A kaleidoscope for the senses
The sun and soil both contribute to the excellence of Sicilian food and wine through the vivid colours and tastes it gives to the fresh local vegetables such as tomatoes, aubergines, peppers, zucchini, olives, oranges and capers. Sicilian food melds an incredible variety of styles and historic ingredients while remaining uniquely Italian and ultimately fantastic.
Aubergines, tomatoes and Mozzarella are the classic ingredients of any classic Sicilian sauce for pasta, and roasting the tomatoes and aubergines to get them slightly charred adds an extra flavour dimension.
Here is a Sicilian recipe using aubergines and Mozzarella.
Siciliano di pasta con melanzane e pomodore torrefatto – Sicilian Pasta with Roasted Tomatoes and Aubergines
8 oz (225 g) spaghetti
12 large tomatoes (roughly 2 lb/900 g)
1 large aubergine, cut into 1 inch (2.5 cm) cubes
2 large cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
about 4 tablespoons olive oil
12 large basil leaves, torn in half, plus a few extra for garnish
5 oz (150 g) Mozzarella, cut into ½ inch (1 cm) cubes
salt and freshly milled black pepper
Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 6, 400°F (200°C).
o Put the aubergine cubes in a sieve and sprinkle them with salt and leave to stand for at least half an hour, weighed down with something heavy to squeeze out the excess juice.
o While waiting, pour boiling water over the tomatoes and leaving for 1 minute, then as soon as they are cool enough to handle, slip off the skins.
o Cut each tomato in half and place on one of the baking trays (cut side up), season with salt and pepper(preferabley freshly milled black).
o Sprinkle over the chopped garlic, distributing evenly, and follow with a few drops of olive oil in each tomato.
o Top each tomato half with half a basil leaf, turning each leaf over to give it a good coating of oil.
o Place the baking tray in the oven and roast the tomatoes for 50-60 minutes or until the edges are slightly blackened.
o While this is happening, drain the aubergines and squeeze out as much juice as possible, then dry them with a clean cloth and place them in the other baking tray.
o Drizzle 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over them and place them on the top shelf of the oven, above the tomatoes, giving them half an hour.
o In the last 15 minutes of the cooking time, cook the pasta.
o When the tomatoes and aubergines are ready, scrape them, along with all their cooking juices, into a pan and place it over a low heat, then add the cubed Mozzarella and stir gently.
o Drain the pasta, pile it into a warm bowl, spoon the tomato and aubergine mixture over the top and sprinkle over a few basil leaves
Sicilian Cooking – One of the Masterpieces of Italian Cuisine